Ah, the joys of Autumn, as Keats wrote, ‘seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness’. Whether it be the mists cradling Mt Langi Ghiran on the outskirts of Marian College, Ararat, the turning vines around St Joseph’s Echuca, or the hues of the leaves as they tumble from our oak trees, Autumn is a season for enjoying the beauty of our natural world. The recent gospel reading from John, provides us with the image of the vine and reminds us that we are interdependent on each other and the environment; we cannot survive alone. During this season, we prune the vines, the roses, the hydrangeas etc to ensure renewed growth in spring.
National Reconciliation Week
At this time of year, we have two commemorative days: ANZAC day and National Sorry day. As a nation we pause, remember and hopefully raise our awareness of what it means to not tend to the vineyard – our inhumanity, our intolerance and lack of recognition of basic human rights. National Reconciliation Week provides us the opportunity for listening and healing. National Sorry Day is held on 26 May each year to acknowledge and recognise members of the Stolen Generations. Charles Passi, a Dauareb tribesman from the Mer Island group in the Torres Straits, and Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation shares his thoughts on the importance of National Sorry Day.
‘National Sorry Day is important to us as an organisation, but also to us as Australia’s First Peoples because we use it to remember and recognise our Stolen Generations. Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people I know have been affected either directly or indirectly by this terrible part of our history since European colonisation. With no disrespect intended, I am a strong advocate for turning our hurt from the past into something positive for our community and for our future generations, as a sign of taking our destiny into our own hands. That’s why I was very happy to hear the recommendation from the Bringing Them Home report (tabled in Federal Parliament on 26 May 1997) that a National Sorry Day be celebrated each year. And that’s what we’ve been doing since 1998. I see this as a positive contribution to our healing journey, just as the national Apology was five years ago.
At the Healing Foundation, we are dedicated to supporting the healing of Stolen Generations and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia. We see healing as a process of returning to our physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural wellbeing. It’s a journey that can happen over a long time and that’s understandable given the profound and damaging effects that forced removal has had on peoples’ lives. As our brothers and sisters over at Reconciliation Australia know, recognition is a big part of healing.’
Transfer of Land
Schools have prepared special liturgies to mark the transfer of land from the Brigidine or Presentation sisters to Kildare Ministries. These moving occasions, enable us to celebrate the gifts and stewardship of those who have gone before us with gratitude. It is also a time to acknowledge the mixed emotions that accompany such significant moments in each school’s history. The gatherings that have occurred so far at St Joseph’s Echuca and Kilbreda College, Mentone have appropriately included Sisters with a long connection to the school, parents, staff and students – all with a deep love of their school. Our blessings and prayers will always be with those who continue the work of education in the spirit of Brigid of Kildare, Nano Nagle and Daniel Delany. In the words of Sr Anne Hill, ‘The disciples recognised Jesus in the breaking of the bread and their hearts were aflame with the calling of the Spirit.’
To conclude, I thought the following from Pope Francis latest apostolic exhortation, ‘Gaudete et Exsultate’ was fitting as a return to reflect on the simple joys of this season:
Hard times may come, when the cross casts its shadow, yet nothing can destroy the supernatural joy that “adapts and changes, but always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved”. That joy brings deep security, serene hope and a spiritual fulfilment that the world cannot understand or appreciate. (Gaudate et Exsultate, 2018 # 125)
Kildare Education Ministries