The wealth of wisdom of Indigenous Peoples for Reconciliation

By Sue Martin, 15 June 2024
The Baabayn Aunties Jenny, Daisy, Elaine & Lynette launching the Young Mum’s book at Holy Family Parish, Mt Druitt, on 16 April 2024. Image: Sue Martin/Supplied


In the Jesuit parish of Holy Family Mt Druitt, NSW Australia, the Baabayn Aboriginal Corporation has its home. It has become a place for reconciliation in action in Western Sydney, a place I love to go and just be with the Aunties. To me, the Aunties are reconciliation in action, they know what their community needs and it is healing. Healing comes as part of the reconciliation process which is two-way. I am welcomed into the Baabayn family and that is very special to me, healing my soul and helping me better connect with God in all things, making our place special. The Aunties want to see Baabayn contributing to a future that is confident and vibrant, sharing culture and connection to Country with all.

On April 16th, the Young Mum’s launched their book called ‘Why are our Children Proud to be Aboriginal” It is full of paintings crafted by the young mums and is so beautiful and an amazing achievement. The book launch was a day of celebrating, lots of food, activities for the kurungs (kids) including boomerang painting and traditional weaving with Ann Marie, all in the community were invited.

Reconciliation in Action is practised across the Jesuit parish in Mt Druitt, giving witness to reconciliation with God, ourselves, others, and nature. Recently, the parish undertook a tree planting exercise with the local Landcare group to bring back Cumberland Plain Woodland on the church site. Jesuit Social Services runs services for those in the community who are food insecure, the Ignite Store, and many other organisations are based on site like Baabayn is. Holy Family Parish, Mt Druitt, is creating faith in action to show us all what reconciliation in action looks like. The Jesuits are creating a parish village in Mt Druitt. Thank you Fr Cao.

In Australia, the contemplative practice of Dadirri assists with our connection to place and each other, building a culture of reconciliation in action. The Dadirri practice as outlined by Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann AM Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu Northern Territory and a renowned artist, activist and writer:

‘To breathe with me, to listen deeply, to listen deeply, is to connect to the sound of deep calling to deep. The deep inner spring inside us, we call on it, and it calls on us.’

In the spirit of deep listening, we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land of where we live, work and worship. This is a call from the Aunties to deeply listen, hearing the creator spirit in all of creation, in myself and in those around me, sharing the journey growing a sense of place in Western Sydney filling it full of love. Think global, act local is a great motto and there are some exciting endeavours happening across the world to help us act locally.

Ann Marie Melito shared her basket weaving skills with Sue Martin’s granddaughter Adelaide at the Baabayn Young Mum’s book launch at Holy Family Parish, Mt Druitt on 16 April 2024. Image: Sue Martin/Supplied

In our region, RAOEN (Rivers Above Asia and Oceania Ecclesial Network) – the Church network for the bishops Conferences in Asia and the Pacific – give a voice in the Conferences to local people, oceans and forests.

Recently, on March 14 & 15th, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences held a conference in the Vatican “Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledge and the Sciences: combining traditional knowledge and sciences for resilience to address climate change, biodiversity loss, food security, health.” A statement from Pope Francis given in 2023 opened the conference:

Therefore, I ask governments to recognise the Indigenous Peoples of the whole world, with their cultures, languages, traditions and spirituality, and to respect their dignity and their rights, in the knowledge that the richness of our great human family consists precisely in its diversity.” (Pope Francis to participants in the indigenous people’s forum, 10 February 2023.)

In Campion Hall, Oxford, UK, the Laudato Si’ Institute will be holding a webinar later in the year titled, “Indigenous approaches to ‘Nature’: Insights at a time of Planetary Crisis.” The wisdom of Dr Vijay D’Souza SJ, Integral Ecology Visiting Fellow at the Laudato Si’ Institute, will be shared.

The Amazonia Synod and the post-Synod Exhortation Querida Amazonia still holds so much inspiration for me for what Reconciliation in Action could look like, we all need to dream big!!! We need to seek out the Aunties who can teach us to weave and breathe deeply. Our world depends on it. Truly, the wisdom of Indigenous communities contributes to reconciliation with God, ourselves, others, and nature. Thank you, Aunties.

Sue Martin is a parishioner of St Madeleine Sophie Barat Parish, Kenthurst, a member of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat (SJES) Advisory committee for the Jesuits and Project Office for the Australian Jesuit Province’s Care for our Common Home Committee.

This article was originally published in the Jesuit Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat’s newsletter “Headlines”, May edition 2024. Reproduced with permission.


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