the Heart of Jesus
Beats within us all


The 2015 NATSICC National Assembly was held at Darwin’s Kormilda College from 2- 6 July this year. Over 300 registered delegates attended the event titled The Heart of Jesus beats within us all.


The NATSICC Assemblies are a unique event that brings together a wide range of people with a common thread – they have a strong passion for their Church and their culture. The council was very pleased to welcome a number of teachers and those working in the area of Indigenous Education and Faith Ministry who used the event as a cornerstone of their professional development and capacity building programs. “There is no other event or avenue in Australia that allows you to connect with such a vast range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in such a setting” said one delegate.


30 degree days and mild nights greeted people to the Top End and provided the opportunity to hold workshops and discussions outside in the especially designed Assembly hub. The Assembly hub area was the focal point of the week’s events and hosted open mic nights, music, storytelling and traditional dancing. Grassed areas punctuated by native trees and a view out towards the sea offered the perfect environment for sharing and listening. Market stalls with items handmade in communities all over Australia were continually busy and the dance area seldom empty!


The Youth Assembly attracted 50 young Indigenous Catholics from every State and Territory. It ran separately from the main Assembly with a specific program focused on faith formation, issues facing the youth on a day to day basis and sharing through the medium of music. There were times when the Youth and Main Assemblies came together so that young people can share with the Elders and Elders can listen to the hopes, concerns and visions for the future that only young people can provide. “We had two young people attend the youth assembly that were at a cross road in their lives. They were struck by the openness of the young people at the event and their willingness to discuss their faith and culture. They have returned from the Assembly with a renewed sense of faith and in their own words ‘a new clear direction in life’” said St Martin de Porres Chairperson Lorraine Tomlins.


Midway through the program the delegates took part in planned day trips. The Adults delegates boarded 5 red double decker buses for a tour of Darwin and its outskirts. A hop on hop off service, it gave people the opportunity to visit the Parap markets, museums and spectacular waterfront precinct at their own pace. The day included lunch and a tour of the beautiful St Mary’s Cathedral in Darwin. It was a perfect day in which the sun brightly illuminated the Cathedral’s Aboriginal Stain glass windows, bathing the pews in blues, ochres and reds.


We had the most wonderful time and you look after all of us so well. What a wonderful event!!” - Sr Kerry McDermott of the ACM in Minto NSW


For the first time, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from every State and Territory came together to celebrate Aboriginal and Islander Sunday as one people. Drawing from the 1973 Aboriginal Mass in Melbourne, all communities had an opportunity to participate and incorporate their own rituals and symbols into the Liturgy. It was a Mass right in music, culture and spirit and one that will not be soon forgotten.


NATSICC Assemblies also give the community to discuss matters that are important to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics. There were extended discussions on the topic of Inculturation and ways to bring more Culture and traditional symbolism into the Liturgy. The topic is extremely important to communities throughout Australia and this resulted in some very deep and challenging conversations. For the second time, a New Zealand Maori delegation was in attendance and led by Deacon Dayy Karratea-Goddard. Deacon Danny’s presentation provided an extended ‘world view’ to participants and assisted in the ongoing discussions. “Just a big thank you from the Aotearoa – New Zealand delegation, we returned inspired to New Zealand. The gathering gave us an opportunity to step back from our own reality and recognize a whole host of issues that we are still pondering.” Said Deacon Danny.


As a result, NATSICC feels that the fact that these conversations took place and with such passion means that we are closer to the Church becoming the Church Jesus wants her to be. Many Bishops, Priests and Religious were in attendance and we were able to share the time to learn from eachother and see the challenges we face from a different point of view.   NATSICC worked closely with the local communities in the territory who were our hosts for the week.


Keynote speakers included:


Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, a Wadeye Elder and respected artist who shared her experiences of Inculturation with the group. She explained how Catholic faith works in concert with Traditional beliefs and culture. Additionally, Miriam hosted a very popular workshop on the challenges and successes involved with Aboriginal education in remote areas.


Charlie King, respected Elder, Order of Australia award winner and respected national broadcaster enthralled the delegation with his passion and involving key note address. He spoke about the importance of self-determination and standing up for your culture and people. Charlie also spoke about his desire to eliminate Domestic Violence in Aboriginal families. The delegation stood arm in arm in support of Charlie and the need to stand together in facing the issue.


The council would like to thanks the following:


• Lorraine Tomlins and Fr Mauri Heading who were our conduit between the council and the local community

• Fr Dan Benedetti, Fr Joseph and the MGL’s for their tireless work during the week

• Catholic Church Insurances and Catholic Mission for their Sponsorship of the event

• All volunteers that helped pack bags, drive people around and a host of other tasks

• Benita De Vincentiis who assisted NATSICC Youth Councillor Sabrina Stevens in hosting the Youth Assembly

• All organisations that supported delegates that attended the events

• Sr Carmel Pilcher for assisting the Liturgy team in preparing Masses

• Jenny Collins White for recording the ‘Sounds of the Assembly’


Photos from the event are available here


Assembly Logo

Karntilmun Angela Ninnal of Yek Nangu clan and Yilimu Bernadine Kungul of Rak Dirringara clan worked on the logo with the theme: The Heart of Jesus beats within us all. Kandji Michael Parmbuk of Rak Wambu clan was then asked to undertake the work. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is central in the presentation and picks up an image in the spirituality that has been particularly prominent in the history of the Catholic Church at Wadeye and for that matter throughout the NT.


You might note though the lines surrounding the heart which indicate that, along with the theme, the heart beats and is a living heart; a blazing fire also rests upon the top of the heart. It is a strong image using the fire, the blood from a wounded heart, the crown, all symbols that have been strong symbols for the Catholic Community here.


The heart is surrounded by a band indicating the Aboriginal clans and family groups that have gathered together from the many different directions to know the love of God found in the heart of Jesus. Blue is very much the colour that people in these parts associate with Mary, the mother of Jesus, and who is closely associated with the Sacred Heart under the title of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and the name of the Wadeye Parish. Mary under this title is prominent in the prayer and devotions of the people of Wadeye. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is also the patroness of the Diocese of Darwin.



National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council

'The peak Indigenous advisory body to the Catholic Church'

80C Payneham Rd.

Stepney SA 5069   |   | 08 8363 2963


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