The journey of reconciliation

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3 March 2020

Photo courtesy of the Melbourne Catholic website.By Brendan Nicholls, FIRE Carrier and Religious Education and Liturgy Coordinator at St Ignatius College Geelong

Ash Wednesday was a very important day for the community at St Ignatius College Geelong, Drysdale, due to the celebration of two significant parallel beginnings. Students and staff received the ashes as Lent and the 40 days of preparation of growing closer to God and others began. The college also unveiled a significant symbol of the desire to further its journey of reconciliation and justice for our nation’s First Peoples in the form of an Indigenous Acknowledgment sign. Both of these events are beginnings of significant journeys of preparation, friendship and service.

St Ignatius College has a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) committee, which over a number of years has developed a vision of reconciliation and support for Indigenous students. A crucial aspect discussed throughout 2019 was a public statement of a commitment to reconciliation and the acknowledgment of the nation’s First Peoples. A sign of this effect was agreed to be a suitable illustration of this intent.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) simultaneously released a plaque that perfectly encapsulated this vision. The focal point of the plaque is an image designed by Murri Ministry (Brisbane) that depicts reconciliation as ‘black and white people coming together and growing in faith and respect for one another’.

The college was blessed to work with Craig Arthur (NATSICC National Administrator) and John Lochowiak (NATSICC Chairperson), who supported the vision of upscaling the plaque as designed so that it was equal in size to other significant signs at the college.

The unveiling of the sign on Ash Wednesday was supported by the presence of John Lochowiak, Rebecca Famlonga (Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation), Fr James Puppady (College Chaplin), and the college’s FIRE Carriers (staff and students).

For the college, the sign is significant, but in itself is only a symbol. Reconciliation is a journey and this beginning presents future opportunities. With the support of NATSICC, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Melbourne and the local Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation, the college will seek to further the journey of reconciliation. Through friendship, understanding and service, the community of St Ignatius College seeks justice for and affirms the dignity of our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

This article was originally published on the Melbourne Catholic website on Friday 28 February 2020.