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The mission of Catholic Social Services Victoria is to assist the Catholic Church in Victoria to fulfil the gospel imperatives to:
Stand with and serve the poor, disadvantaged and marginalised; andwork for a just, equitable and compassionate society.
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Aboriginal Catholic Ministry is a place of spirituality, gathering and challenge.
Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria
unveiled paintings of the 14 Stations of the Cross in its chapel on Sunday 19 November, inviting deeper reflection on the Passion and death of Jesus Christ. Aboriginal artist John Dunn wove his own life story into those transcendent themes, and on Sunday he shared that weaving with the many people who were privileged to be present for the unveiling. The Stations of the Cross deepen the Ministry's commitment to providing a place of contemplation and reflection for those who visit its chapel and office.
The following is a reflection written by Michelle Armstrong, Justice and Outreach Coordinator, Aquinas College, Ringwood.
I was honoured to attend the unveiling of the Stations of the Cross at the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Chapel in Thornbury on Sunday 19 November. It was one of the most moving celebrations I have ever experienced.
The artist, John Dunn, shared a story of his personal journey at each station as he unveiled them one by one. Each stage was punctuated with a prayer for reconciliation and some very moving music. John's story is one of dislocation and challenges, beginning with his discovery at 10 years of age, that he was one of the stolen generation. Archie Roache's song,
They Took the Children Away
, was included at that stage.
John paralleled his story with the steps Jesus took carrying the cross. People who helped him along the way included his friends and his mother and birth mother, just as Jesus had help carrying the cross. As Jesus fell, so did John. He described times in his life when relationships failed and he made mistakes. At the final station as Jesus was buried, John reflected on being nurtured and loved by his family and friends and a future of hope. His obvious pride in his creation of this timeless art work, gave me the sense that he has a new beginning.
It was a very emotional ceremony, with many people shedding tears. My final thoughts on the experience were that it’s important for us to remember the long-term, generational impact of our past treatment of our First Australians. The final song was
You’ve got a Friend
. I know our Aboriginal brothers and sisters do have friends in our society today. Many were there on Sunday. I’m sure John felt the empathy and respect in the room.
Aquinas College supports the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry through our involvement in their initiative, the FIRE Carrier program and our donations to their not-for-profit wing, the
Opening the Doors Foundation
. The foundation supports young aboriginal people in Victoria by assisting with the cost of their education. We can be proud that we are walking with them and being a friend.
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