During the Season of Creation, young people across Western Sydney have reflected on finding God in nature and the spirituality of being connected to creation.
On Friday 16 September, Sabrina Stevens, Caritas Australia Youth Participation Coordinator, spoke on ‘God, Creator of All Things’, during the final Theology Hour gathering for 2022 at the Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Josephine Bakhita Campus in Blacktown.
Sabrina, a Kuku Yalanji and Yidinji woman from Cairns, shared about her faith and how she experiences God through nature and by connecting with country.
“Where I feel most connected to God is through creation around me and the wonder and awe that everything has its place and how it perfectly fits there.
“My relationship with God is nurtured also through my Aboriginal culture, having a connection to country and how that holistically encompasses all elements of myself.
“My faith and my Aboriginal spirituality go hand-in-hand. It cannot be separated.
“As an Australian Aboriginal woman, I was raised with knowledge that we maintain our culture by nurturing our relationship with Country, and in turn, we are looking after one another, and the cycle goes on to repeat itself.
“This belief is naturally affirmed throughout my faith journey when giving thanks to God the Creator for the providence we receive from His sacred gift of creation and in the love we share.
“When I’m feeling discontent, unease and loss of direction, I am drawn to the outside, emersed in nature, to be still and to feel God’s love for us.
“Being in nature is where I feel closest to God and is the greatest strength connection to my faith. I feel passionately obliged to care for God’s gift of creation, which nurtures the connection to my Aboriginal culture and spirituality.”
Sabrina led the group in ‘Dadirri’, a deep listening reflection created by 2021 Senior Australian of the Year Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann. Participants were encouraged to share where they felt most at peace and at home in nature and why they feel connected to this place.
Sabrina shared that she felt God in nature by freshwater creeks in the rainforests near her home in Far North Queensland and when she cannot be in those spaces, she tries to find green spaces in the city to reflect and reconnect.
One person shared that they feel connected to God in the Blue Mountains and another said that they enjoy interacting with their animals at home and the simplicity and joy in their lives.
ACU Blacktown Campus Pastoral Associate Madeline Forde has been grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Catholic Youth Parramatta through the Theology Hour initiative this year.
“We’ve been so honoured to welcome so many and create a space for young people to come as they are and ask questions, learn and grow beyond what we thought was possible,” she told Catholic Outlook.
“Our young people are our future and our now and in collaboration with CYP, we’ve given young people a platform where they are able to shine, and share in each other’s wisdom and goodness.
“Listening to Sabrina’s words imploring us to create a place of welcome so that people could look into a space from the street and know they are welcomed and love, resonates with how we’ve endeavoured to set up the Theology Hour space for young people this year.”
Qwayne Guevara, Manager – Catholic Youth Parramatta, added, “By providing safe spaces for those post high school to gather, receive formation and ask questions, Catholic Youth Parramatta seeks to align its work to that of Pope Francis’ call to accompaniment.
“It’s formation that is communicated through spaces of encounter that leads to a ministry of presence and, in turn, a community of pilgrims walking together towards God.
“In 2023, we hope Theology Hour connects with more students within the campus and beyond and in this way, be able to deliver formation that meets their needs at this stage of their lives.
“Catholic Youth Parramatta looks forward to working collaboratively with ACU Blacktown Campus Ministry in 2023 and into the future.”