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Class discussion: The spirit of Indigenous Australia

 |  18 December 2012

In this edition of Australian Catholics, we recognise that Indigenous people are a gift to our Church and our society. Their traditions, history, and the way they are attuned to the world, give them a unique perspective on many issues. We can learn a great deal by listening to them.

In the article 'The Creator Spirit and me' (page 28), Evelyn Parkin writes about her faith. She grew up as a Catholic, experiencing God in her local church and the sacraments, and as an Indigenous person, learning to experience God in the gurgling of creeks and the feel of the sand beneath her feet.

She speaks of her need to find Jesus in a way that speaks strongly to her. The God she knows through the Catholic Church is the same as the Creator Spirit she encounters in the land around her. Having studied theology, she also finds traces of her people's traditions in biblical stories, and sees God at work in traditional stories of her own people.

Understanding how other cultures experience their faith can open new ways to experience God in our own lives. It shows us that God is present everywhere, and each person experiences that presence in different ways. It also helps us understand that spirituality is a fundamental part of our human experience.

Questions for reflection

  1. Evelyn Parkin speaks about the silence that engulfed her in the natural environment, a silence that showed her 'more than the physical eye could see'. Have you had a similar experience? How does nature connect us with something beyond ourselves?
  2. Do you feel that being a Catholic is a strong part of your identity? How is your experience of Catholic faith connected to other aspects of your life, such as family, or your cultural background? How is one shaped by the other?
  3. Evelyn believes Indigenous people were led to see God and sing their songs from their own place. As Catholics we seek God in our own ways too. What does this tell us about how we should approach people of different faiths?

For younger students
Read and illustrate Evelyn's story of the Emu who was a peacemaker.

Now draw a picture of a time that you were the peacemaker in a situation. How are you and the Emu like Jesus?

 

Topic tags: indigenousaustralians, religiousandculturaldiversity, spiritualityandtheenvironment, buildingpeace

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