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SUMMER 2006
Vol 40 No 4




PDF (1.3MB)


Editorial:
MISSIONARY CREATIVITY

Martin Wilson MSC
GSELL CENTENARY. MISSIOLOGICAL REFLECTIONS

Dawn Cordona
COMMENT ON THE GSELL LECTURE

Lorraine Erlandson
COMMENT ON THE GSELL LECTURE

Pat Mullins SJ
COMMENT ON THE GSELL LECTURE

Peter Hearn MSC
COMMENT ON THE GSELL LECTURE

John Wilcken SJ
THE ALICE SPRINGS ADDRESS AND THE CONCEPT OF NATION

Patrick McInerney
THE ADDRESS OF POPE BENEDICT ON FAITH AND REASON

Abe Ata
DEMONISING AUSTRALIA'S CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM ARABS IN CARTOONS

Anthony Gooley
WHAT'S IN A NAME? PART II: 'ORDAINED' AND 'LAY APOSTOLATE'

Kevin Mark
NEW RELIGIOUS BOOKS FROM AUSTRALASIAN AUTHORS

 



 

Comments on the Gsell lecture

DAWN CORDONA

WHEN READING the book Bishop Gsell and 150 Wives I came across the page where a white man on Melville Island managed to divert Father Gsell’s attention for a mission site in 1911from Melville to Bathurst Island.

That person was my great grandfather Robert Joel Cooper. So in giving comment today, my family had a part in the story of Gsell.

On completion of reading the paper that was presented today I had very mixed feelings. Sad, hurt and confused all at once. The past was haunting in my thinking towards indigenous culture and society. And yet if it was not for the past we would not be here today. I pondered the questions: Given today society recognizes the value of indigenous culture, would Bishop Gsell have done things differently? Would he have taken the time to find the similarities between indigenous culture and evangelism? Would he have used what already existed in indigenous culture—the things in indigenous culture that are close to christianity as a springboard for his evangelism? I ponder.

So much has been achieved over the years in missionary work with indigenous people and over time a close relationship has developed. Knowing that good things have occurred I put the past behind and look at all the wonderful things that are happening now and in the future.

Christian people have contributed immensely to indigenous society. In times of struggle with government policies in the past and present, Christians have given support to the indigenous people. If it were not for the Christians in the time of the assimilation policy, indigenous society would not exist today.

And it is today where the richness of this relationship exists. On Saturday the College staff participated in a ceremony held at Bathurst Island for the Centenary of Gsell and the graduation of our students.

The coming together of Christianity and Indigenous Society was clearly evident in the service. Two cultures coming together in Christ.

On completion of the service, the women of the choir came to me and said, This is all because of Nungalinya. I was deeply touched by this. So touched I feel the need to tell you the Nungalinya story. A story of Christians and
Indigenous people working and living together.

In 1965 training for indigenous lay ministry was being held around Darwin in houses. The UCA (MOM) and Anglican Churches came together and established Nungalinya. Nungalinya a Larrakia word meaning Old Man Rock.
Larrakia gave their permission for a theological college to be placed upon their land. Nungalinya has grown from this time to be a National Indigenous Ecumenical College supported by our churches.

It is a place where indigenous people from all over Australia can come and talk to God. It is their Mother. It is a place where the indigenous people come to learn the Bible and other skills and knowledge that help develop their communities. The College is a prime example of a strong relationship of Christian and Indigenous people and a place where reconciliation is at its best.

On 29 November 1986 in Alice Springs, Pope John Paul II delivered an address to Aboriginal People:

The Church invites you to express the living word of Jesus in ways that speak to your Aboriginal minds and hearts. All over the world people worship God and read his word in their own language, and colour the great signs and symbols of religion with touches of their own traditions. Why should you be different from them in this regard, why should you not be allowed the happiness of being with God and each other in Aboriginal fashion?

John Wilcken in his paper ‘Aboriginal Religious Traditions and the Sacramental life of the Church’ asks the question how Aboriginal religious ceremonies—sacramental life—how this tradition of sacramental life may make a contribution to the Australian church—a contribution which one hopes, may be joyfully received as addressed by Pope John Paul II.

I ask you all to deeply consider or reconsider the address of Pope John Paul II and in doing so, I ask you all to not walk in front of us in our spiritual journeys and spiritual development but to walk beside us as brothers and sisters in Christ. And in our journey of learning I ask our churches to further enrich our relationship, and ask are you prepared to allow us to develop and lead Christian Ministry our way? Thank you.

Dawn Cardona is the Principal of Nungalinya College.