The town is an ex-Govt. reserve with a sad history of injustice and racism, and a longer history in the memories of the people of trauma inflicted on themselves and their ancestors. Some whole families are now suffering trans-generational post-traumatic stress which has led to substance abuse and social dysfunction.
Our ministry here is basically a ministry of presence and of empowerment through compassion and non-judgmental acceptance of everyone, especially the women and children. Building relationships takes a long time here so each one is a cause for celebration!
I’d like to share a word picture of ministry in Woorabinda on a Sunday with you, especially with those of you who have not had the joy of a visit here. Our usual congregation on a Sunday is anywhere between 4 to 15, depending on the time of the year, and in this present heat wave, the weather as well. It’s only when we have a funeral that the little church is packed.
Love and blessings,
“Christmas was quiet but also a little sad. I guess Mary and Joseph felt that way in the stable too, so I was in good company. Our “good” Catholics let us down every big feast day as they all take off to the coast with the kids for the holiday season. However, we still had 14 adults at Mass on Christmas day and had a lovely celebration, but only four kids turned up the next Sunday...better than none I know. That hasn’t happened, yet!
That last Sunday the four kids and I pointed out each of the large, beautifully carved crib figures and had a little story about each one, and then they went home happily. So much for the hours of preparation, but I never know who if anyone is coming, or how many, so I still must prepare and invest a lot of time into having appropriate hymns that echo the Gospel message and of course in the homily. At least I can keep the homily for another time...
Last Sunday for the feast of the Epiphany, I started off with one of the Elders and myself and we looked forward to a time of sharing which she loves. We had just finished the entrance hymn when a local farmer from out of town drove up with his lovely Mum and 3-year-old grand-daughter, with her little box of biscuits in case she gets hungry... It took another five minutes for Grandma to get up the ramp with her wheelie walker and into a seat, and then another five minutes chatting and catching up... She’s a great lady to make the effort to come along despite her age.
I started again, with loud music from an all- night party across the road still in full swing at 10:00 AM by now, competing against me, and mother and son fell asleep during the homily- so encouraging!
I must add (just in case you think my homilies are that bad!) that the church gets quite warm despite the fans and neither of the pair have been too well lately. In fact, people tend to nod off the minute they sit down. I tell myself that researchers say we take in information even when we are unconscious so perhaps the homilies do some good after all!
The little one opened her biscuits and broke them all over the floor, then she ignored the stack of children’s picture books and grabbed a hand full of Mass booklets instead and played with them while Grand-dad fondly smiled at her. Both mother and son are a little deaf but sing with gusto. They haven’t quite learnt our beautiful new Aboriginal Mass yet so often get the two most beautiful parts wrong. By the end of the Mass or service I’m usually quite hoarse from the effort of trying to keep us all on the note and preserving the sacredness of it all. My mother would so enjoy this story, because she (and I) never considered myself a singer, let alone lead singer and choir mistress! And to think, that back in my novitiate days I would lie awake all night just because I had to do a reading at Mass the next morning! God certainly has a great sense of humour and great expectations!!!
After our usual morning tea, it took me another hour to restore order to the church and put away all the heavy wooden crib figures for another year. I had thoughts of going out to the bush with my camera for some R & R, but it was just too hot, so I stayed inside and sewed some new curtains I’ve had sitting near the sewing machine for months and was delighted to have them done at last. We won’t have Mass until at least the third Sunday in Feb., and then, hopefully, every third Sun. The Diocese is desperate for priests. High time we had the option of married priests and women priests for those who feel called to that. Right now, we are relying on our Indian priests who are carrying a heavy load and rarely get time off. There’s a limit to how long they can continue to do that without burning out.
Today is another 39C day and not a mouse stirring outside. The streets look deserted and even the crows are quiet. Only the warm wind is stirring and covering the extensive lawn with a carpet of leaves from the big Moreton Bay Ash tree...sigh! I spent almost three hours raking them all up just a week ago. A few of the White Cedar leaves are turning gold and dropping too, the earliest sign of Autumn slowly approaching, and so the year moves on once again. May it be a blessing for all of us.”