Celebrating NAIDOC Week during Masses in your parish community

6 July 2021
Bishop Columba Macbeth-Green OSPPE, Bishop of Wilcannia Forbes, distributes communion during the during the Missa Terra Sancti Spiritu, the Mass of the Land of the Holy Spirit, during Day 2 of the 2019 Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Perth. Image: Mary Brazell/Diocese of Parramatta


As the Diocese of Parramatta and the Greater Sydney region remain in lockdown, it might be difficult to be able to celebrate NAIDOC Week in person. 

The following liturgical resources prepared by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) can be adapted for virtual Masses in order to celebrate alongside our Indigenous brothers and sisters. 

Liturgical Resources for Non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Congregations 

There are over 130,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics in Australia.  

The following suggestions may be useful in preparing to keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in your thoughts and prayers during NAIDOC Week or other significant times of year. 

Invite a traditional custodian to provide a Welcome to Country

Healing is made real when people come together. Make contact with your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community and invite them to provide a Welcome, or participate in ways outlined in this resource.  

Conduct an Acknowledgement of Country  

Use the Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome to Country guide available at http://www.natsicc.org.au/acknowledgement-and-welcome-to-country.html.  Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta has also created this Acknowledgement Video.

Connecting with your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community  

To enhance your Liturgy, and to avail your parishioners of the gifts of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, NATSICC suggests that you involve your local Aboriginal and Islander Catholic Ministry (AICM) in planning your celebration. 

Visit ‘About NATSICC’ at www.natsicc.org.au and click on your State or Territory to find your local AICM.  

These ministries work very hard to serve local Indigenous Catholics and do a lot of good in the Community. You may be able to work together in preparing the Liturgy, sourcing speakers or presenters or learning more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics in your area and ultimately build a relationship that will benefit the Parish.  

Gifts Procession 

Besides bread and water for the Eucharist, gifts of food or a special collection could be brought forward for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in need.  

Additionally, a coolamon (Aboriginal carrying vessel) could be placed in front of the altar as a symbol of the absence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters at the table. 

Audio and Visual 

  • Display a PowerPoint prepared by NATSICC before Mass (Available at www.natsicc.org.au) 
  • Ask local Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students to create artworks to celebrate the day and have them present their work in the Parish (or display) 
  • Display Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artwork in the Church during Mass and in the leadup to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. Maybe even create a slideshow before your virtual Mass.  
  • Use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander designed cloth on the Altar. This is a powerful symbol of the presence of First Nations people, both physically and Spiritually in Australia.  
  • The Priest could wear an Indigenous stole/or some other chasuble


Prior to Mass, during the arrival of the Priest or during the gifts procession, a recording of instrumental Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music (didgeridoo, clapsticks) might be played.  

Didgeridoo Music 

As a way of enhancing and enriching your celebrations, NATSICC has engaged with young Catholic, Kuku Yalanji and Yidinji man Luke Stevens to produce a series of Didgeridoo tracks. Luke has used his cultural gifts to explore the theme of this year’s celebration – Heal Country – through the lens of his Catholic Faith in order to produce these wonderfully reflective and inspirational tracks. 

The NATSICC Liturgy Resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday makes suggestions of hymns that could be used for the Entrance and Communion parts of the Mass replacing the Entrance and Communion Antiphons in the Roman Missal. Each Didgeridoo track has a suggested application – Welcome/Entrance, Preparation of Gifts/Communion reflection and Farewell/After Mass – however we encourage you to use them as per your needs within your Parish. 

An example for using this Didgeridoo music is to have a track playing as welcome music to set the scene when parishioners are arriving and being welcomed into Mass, prior to the entrance procession and Hymn. The Didgeridoo music serves to provide spiritual reflection for parishioners at the following points:  

 Torres Strait Islander Hymns

Written and performed by NATSICC Torres Strait Islands Councillor Dolly McGaughey, these beautiful hymns evoke the spirit of the Islands. 

The Roman Catholic Church began its ministries in the Torres Strait when Pope Leo XIII requested that the Sacred Heart Fathers establish a Mission in New Guinea. It was decided among the Fathers that the setting up and servicing of such a Mission would be better facilitated if a site was chosen in the Torres Strait. Parishes are now established at (Sacred Heart) Thursday Island, (Holy Family) Horn island, (St Joseph the Worker’s Church) Hammond Island and (St Stephen’s) Bamaga. 

 NAIDOC Week 2021 runs from 4 to 11 July. 

With thanks to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC). 


Read Daily
* indicates required