Message Stick visits Taree, NSW
A Message Stick marking the 20th anniversary of John Paul II's meeting with Indigenous Australians has arrived in Taree in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle as it makes its journey around Australia in preparation for an Alice Springs conference in October.
In Aboriginal tradition, the Message Stick is a symbol of peace and goodwill presented to members of other tribes when Aborigines enter their country.
An initiative of the National Catholic Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Council, the Message Stick will arrive from Krambach for a ceremony this weekend when Pastor Russell Saunders will hand it over to a Biripi elder.
As it travels around the State, local groups will paint the Stick in a way that is unique to their tradition and area.
For Taree, this will occur this weekend before it is handed on to Fr Paul O'Neill, parish priest of the Catholic Parish of Taree, and then journeys around parish outlying churches.
When John Paul II visited Alice Springs twenty years ago, he spoke to a gathering of Aboriginal people, telling them to "teach (your songs) to your children. Your songs, your stories, your paintings, your dances, your languages, must never be lost."
He related to their spirituality: "Through your closeness to the land you touched the sacredness of man's relationship with God, for the land was proof of a power in life greater than yourselves."
This message stick is one of a number journeying throughout the Catholic Dioceses of Australia, inviting all people to revisit the challenge of reconciliation.
Message of reconciliation (Manning River Times 14/6/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council
Bishops' Committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Brisbane Archdiocese welcomes Message Stick (CathNews 27/2/06)
NATSICC chairperson urges churches to help with reunions (CathNews, 25/5/2001)
Catholic call for proper ATSIC replacement (1/6/04)
15 Jun 2006