Our commitment

In their 2023 Social Justice Statement, Australia’s Catholic bishops called on the nation to seek “a new engagement which involves a commitment to listen to our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sisters and brothers and learn from them”.

They said that listening, learning and the actions that flow from this must be grounded in a spirit of love if there is to be a change for the better.

Locally, the Diocese of Maitland- Newcastle has signalled its commitment to developing relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, through its Reconciliation Action Plan.

The Reconciliation Action Plan outlines various ways in which the diocese will take steps towards reconciliation, including, but not limited to; including and listening to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in decision making and leadership; recognising and promoting the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic heritage; promoting reconciliation across our Diocesan parishes, schools, and agencies; and, assisting Catholics in engagement with the truth and reconciliation process and its calls to action.​

Examples of these commitments transferring into action abound, and include the Moree ‘Makarrata’ Immersion, which is led by the Catholic Schools’ Religious Education and Spirituality team for staff across diocesan schools. Reflecting on the pilgrimage, which includes the exploration of the historical context of the massacres that occurred to the Aboriginal people in Myall Creek, co-ordinator Ryan Gato said that it was a deeply spiritual experience, “through their participation, pilgrims developed an appreciation of community engagement as a means of reconciliation, healing and truth-telling.”

Mr Gato emphasised that the diocese’s vision for reconciliation follows the principles of Catholic Social Justice Teaching; to promote a vision of a just society that is grounded in biblical revelations, and principles to end poverty, promote justice, uphold dignity, love of God, and love of neighbour.

“When we embrace and learn from the diversity around us and can acknowledge respectfully the first Australians and their traditions under whom this land flourished, we are truly blessed.”

“However, for us to fully embrace the gifts of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sisters and brothers, we must begin to understand and accept that in the past, wrongful policies and practices have contributed towards their discrimination and disadvantage. Learning, acknowledging and drawing from the culture, story and spirituality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, is one way in moving towards healing and reconciliation,” Mr Gato said.

To learn more visit shareourpride.org.au

For more information on the diocese’s commitment to reconciliation, you can access its Reconciliation Action Plan via www.mn.catholic.org.au/about/reports-and-plans/ ​

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Lizzie Watkin Image
Lizzie Watkin

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.