30th Anniversary of St John Paul II’s Visit to Alice Springs

Catholic Church to host a national day of celebration on Sunday 27 November.
Image: NATSICC.

Warning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – these websites may contain images, voices or references to those who have passed.

This month marks 30 years since (now Saint) Pope John Paul II issued his ground-breaking address to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Blatherskite Park, Alice Springs.

Pope John Paul II in Alice Springs, 29 November 1986. Photo: supplied.

Pope John Paul II in Alice Springs, 29 November 1986. Photo: supplied.

On 29 November 1986, the Holy Father told the Indigenous community: “Your culture, which shows the lasting genius and dignity of your race, must not be allowed to disappear. Do not think that your gifts are worth so little that you should no longer bother to maintain them. Share them with each other and teach them to your children. Your songs, your stories, your paintings, your dances, your languages, must never be lost”.

Pope Francis has sent a message of hope and blessing to Australia’s Indigenous peoples.  “This anniversary affords me the happy opportunity to express my deep esteem for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and for your ancient cultural heritage.”

Bishop Eugene Hurley, Chairman of the Bishops Commission for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, said: “It is appropriate that we celebrate and observe the thirtieth anniversary of the visit as we prepare for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in Advent. As with both, the theme is one of hope and rebirth.

“It is an opportune time to remind us of the important words of St John Paul II: ‘You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.’”

To commemorate the event, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC), in conjunction with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC), will host a national day of celebration on Sunday 27 November 2016. The theme of the commemorations is, ‘Walk Tall and Command Respect. The time for this rebirth is now’.

To assist in preparing for the day, NATSICC has produced a dedicated website and a resource book with different perspectives on St John Paul II’s speech, liturgy suggestions and reflections.

The ACBC, Bishops Commission for Relations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, has created a prayer card to mark the commemoration. You can download the prayer card from the ACBC website.

Source: ACBC.

For more information visit NATSICC.

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