Archives for the month of: June, 2012

Saturday the 23rd of June was day of Refugee Week when people from all around Australia united at 1pm to Walk Together. This was about bringing together all Australians: Aboriginal Australians, refugees, new and old migrants and asylum seekers. The photo shows some of us who carried this banner for our Walk Together in Port Augusta. We also walked with a number of refugees and an asylum seeker from the Port Augusta Immigration Residential Housing (detention centre), who have been 3 years in detention. Unfortunately, however, we were not allowed to take a photo of them with us.

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I’ve been unbloggable for a few months, while working as a chaplain at the Curtin Detention Centre. Today, as I shared with some people about the experience, I got a bit emotional – there were such stories of pain and trauma. Send me an email if you ever want more on this subject. I arrived back and there are 16 Sri Lankans in the Port Augusta Detention Centre – most who have been over 3 years behind the wire! God, have mercy, please. Anyway, that’s not what I will share about today. This is about 2 amazing groups of people I have met in the last couple of days. And they are at completely different ends of the age spectrum!

Firstly I had 2 hours to kill in the city of Adelaide, between travelling from my Mum’s house in the south of the state to my home in the north. I wandered past the Cathedral and thought I would just check in for a few minutes. Well, it turned out that I had arrived smack bang at the start of an African Mass – which I’d never attended before. So I gladly stayed for the singing, dancing, ululating celebration which was full of colour and children. I will mention children again, as another Sister there asked me to help her with the Children’s Liturgy of the Word, which involved taking the children out for about 20 minutes during the Mass. Well, they were really a lion’s pride full of life and energy, ready to run around at any opportunity. But they were very good at looking out for each other and singing a beautiful Alleluia. It was the Feast of the Trinity and one bright young girl was able to use ants (with 3 body sections) as an example of 3-and-1.

The second group were an aged Vicariate meeting of Catholic Women’s League. They met in Port Augusta to do the usual AGM business – minutes, reports, etc. However, this was preceded by Mass and a large and extended home-cooked meal. By the time it got to the meeting one woman quipped, “They say we’re getting old, but we can still cook!” They talked about the various projects they are supporting and new kinds of issues that they are trying to raise awareness and funds for. They were able to adapt projects to the different kinds of needs in the country and the types of people they are most able to access. I was quite inspired by the secretary’s challenge to them: for each group to try to work with a new group of need this year in some way. Her comment was similar, “They say that we’re going down in numbers, but we still continue to get the same work done by a smaller group of people.”

These two groups made me realise just how much we need each other – every age group. We need the young for fresh insight and energy, and we need the old for experience and faithfulness. I am starting a new role in youth ministry in this diocese (area of the church) and I look to Timothy’s injunction to the young: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (4:12) However, these women remind me that there is never a time when our work in this world is done. Each generation has its gifts. The Prophet Joel saw this clearly in his picture of the Spirit’s coming in the Reign of God, “your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” (2:28, Acts 2:17) I hope a bit of that Spirit appears in your life today, young or old, as we look together to a better world.