Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Wadeye, Palumpa and Emu Point Show Love Before the Cross

Today the Cross, Icon of Our Lady and Message Stick were present in Wadeye.

Wadeye, where we began the day, is one of the communities that has been placed under an ‘emergency intervention plan’ by the federal government. Whether this will be of benefit to the people of Wadeye is not immediately apparent.

A Mass on the ground outdoors, just next to the church was the first event for the day. We have seen this concept in rural Queensland before, when the organisers of Mass are very aware that not everyone feels welcome inside of a church. So by holding the event in an outside open place, it sometimes creates a more comfortable gathering space in which to connect with the love associated with the meaning of the Cross.

Following mass, the Cross, Icon of Our Lady, Message Stick were due to attend Palumpa, a town an hour up the road. Our team, which had grown from our usual seven to include members of the Darwin Catholic community, were unfortunately running late, missed the turnoff to Palumpa, and the couple of hundred that had gathered on the main road in the heat to meet us, found themselves amidst further anticipation waiting for great items that mean so much to them to arrive.

Once present in their town, the community re-gathered to process these large symbols from the road next to the lily-pond filled billabong to a park in the centre of town. We sat in clusters, dictated by the shade provided by the strong gum trees as the liturgy was spoken in both the local language and in English. Finally after a long morning, Palumpa had its own special moment to venerate the Cross, pray before the Icon of Our Lady and spend time with the Message Stick.

Our final event for the day, set to a majestic sunset backdrop, was a ceremony very special to the people of Emu Point. They became the first community in Australia to have their children receive the sacrament of Confirmation before the Cross. Babies were also baptised, and others took of their First Communion. Significantly, it was also the first time newly appointed Bishop Hurley gathered for mass at Emu Point. As he sincerely told the youth being Confirmed, the evening marked the beginning of an important relationship between them, where he would like a friend be there to walk beside them and not in front, a promise was given to be available to the young people when they need him to be.

The graciousness shown by everyone who showed as welcome, shows me that moments with the Cross, Icon of Our Lady and Message Stick are more than just church ‘events’. It is an opportunity to share ones faith in solidarity with so many who have previously done so, but also a personal time to really share that love with God.

Jacs :)

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