I write from the red heart of Australia here at Alice Springs.
I went for an early morning walk this morning. I climbed Anzac Hill just across from the Church. The Aboriginal name for the hill is ATNELKENTYARLIWEKE. This is the land of the Central Arrernte people, the larger area that we call Alice Springs is known as MPARNTWE.
There is a rugged beauty in the countryside stretching in various directions for great distances, a country rich with mountain ranges, waterholes, and gorges.
Every time I travel in this beautiful part of the world, I find it to be a spiritual experience.
People have lived here for many thousands of years. As well as the traditional owners of this area there are many other First Nations people living here.
I have met many Aboriginal elders in this part of the world. There is so much knowledge that these people carry. They value their culture, their traditions, their stories, and other Catholic Christian ways of life.
I have been impressed by the deep faith that these respected people have.
They are very keen for the young Aboriginal people to know their story, their culture and tradition.
They also want to ensure that our Christian Catholic faith is passed on to the young people.
Yesterday I was able to celebrate the Baptism and full initiation into the Catholic Church of an Aboriginal adult woman. I also celebrated the First Communion of a number of children.
The singing at the celebration was beautiful, a lot of it was in the local language.
After Mass I attended a meeting with the elders where we agreed to nominate local people to be appointed as Church leaders in various locations. They would be formed to pass on our Catholic faith within the context of local culture and customs. There was unanimous agreement for the project.
I was reminded of the richness of our Catholic faith which is indeed for all people and for all time.
I sat with the local priests and two seminarians for a meal last night. There were eight of us around the table, each born in a different county. The bond of Christ which united us was alive and well.