Sunday, 23 September 2007

The Nation’s Top Spot Welcome the WYD Cross and Icon.

There have been many adventures in the first 10 weeks of the JCI in Australia, but none more so than the past two and a half days bringing the sacred symbols of the Cross and Icon to the Torres Strait – the most northerly point of our vast land.

Only two of the JCI Traveling Team, accompanied by the WYD Icon, made the journey by plane, bus and ferry to Horn, Thursday and Hammond Islands. The WYD Cross proved just too difficult to transport to the Torres Strait, so the Diocese of Cairns had a special replica WYD Cross made for this region. The replica Cross was similar in dimensions and weight to the original Cross, and had been made from two pieces of wood salvaged from the Church in Innisfail after the damage done to it by Cyclone Larry. The symbolism was lost on no one, and while the original Cross was unable to make the journey, the replica Cross was carried, reverenced and inspired the locals in the same way as its sister Cross.

Sunday September 23rd

Day 1 - Horn Island and Thursday Island

We arrived at Horn Island airport from Cairns and were immediately greeted by a small group of Kaurareg Elders, the WYD Torres Strait Youth Coordinator, and a small group of young people representing some of the different local Churches. There was a brief moment at the airport where the elders welcomed the replica Cross and Icon to Torres Strait before we all rushed to get everything loaded on to utes to get down to the wharf for the ferry to Thursday Island (TI)

Waiting to welcome the Cross and Icon at TI were a big group of locals, led by Fr Mullins and the local TI Elders. The Cross and Icon were processed from the wharf to the Catholic Church grounds. The locals took turns carrying the symbols and we were soon at our destination. The Sacred Heart Catholic Church is the oldest building on the island – a clear reminder of the long history of the Church’s involvement in the Torres Strait.

For me, that first procession of the Cross and Icon on Thursday Island t
ook me on some new steps in my faith journey as one of the TI elders took the opportunity to walk with me and share something of what the symbol of the coming of the Cross meant to him and the Kaurareg People of Torres Strait. He spoke of the sensitive and sometimes painful history of the Church in this place for his people, but at the same time, was able to lead them in welcoming the Cross and Icon, recognizing the positive contribution the Church has also made. I was never more aware of the Cross as a sign of contradiction, both a symbol of pain and of love, of failure and of hope.

This same elder opened the afternoon’s proceedings and spoke passionately about the coming of the Cross and Icon as the right opportunity and occasion for furthering reconciliation and peace, by seeing the past in truth and living the present with integri

In front of the Church the late afternoon and evening was filled with a range of music (led by the Tribal Worship Band), prayers, reflections, testimony and dance. It was a very prayerful time where people from some of the local Christian Churches had came together, laying aside some of our differences in the unity of the Cross and common prayer.

In a new way I committed myself that evening before the WYD Cross and Icon to being part of a humble Church that is aware of and open to embracing the truth of its history and dedicated to not repeating the infidelities of the past.
Alice - JCI Team

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thankyou, Alice, for a small insight into the Journey of the Cross through the Torres Strait Islands. We are hearing so much about the worrying new interventions by the Australian Government in Indigenous communities. The Cross and Icon's journey in these areas,is a reminder that there is a power far greater than the Government working for justice, equality, dignity and peace. Natalie

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