ATSI Bishops’ Committee

Correspondence with Bishops’ Committee for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

14 March 2004

The Secretary of the Bishops’ Committee for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, Bishop Brian Heenan,
P.O. Box 611,
Rockhampton. 4700

Dear Bishop Brian,

Re: Guidelines for Priests in Ministry with Indigenous People in Australia

The community (both indigenous and non-indigenous) of St. Vincent de Paul’s Catholic Church at Redfern, Sydney, has been working with peace and goodwill for more than thirty years to facilitate reconciliation with the Indigenous people of this land. We note the recent eruption of tensions (with accompanying national publicity) in Redfern and we are very concerned about the whole set of circumstances surrounding this issue.

We further note that, while the Guidelines from the Australian Catholic Leaders of Religious Institutes [enclosed] provide a process for those Religious who contemplate future work in Ministry with Indigenous people in Australia, there does not seem to be a parallel document for the clergy.

Therefore, it would seem most opportune for the Bishops to advance similar Guidelines for Priests in Ministry with Indigenous peoples, especially given the current new situation where many Priests are beginning to arrive from overseas’ countries to work, sometimes for long periods, in Australia.

The latter actuality has recently brought tensions to the long-term parish community of St. Vincent’s. We, therefore, respectfully ask that you place the substance of this request as one Item on the formal Agenda of your next Meeting, which we believe will take place in May this year.

Thank you for your kind attention to this request.

Yours sincerely,

per Clare Maguire

Signed by the folowing members of the St Vincent’s community:
Alan Hockey, Anne Hudson, Anne Webb, Anthony Bell, Barbara Fingleton, Barbara Fingleton, Beatrice Haines, Bernadette Hawthorne, Cecilie Scarf, Christopher Lyons, Clare Maguire, Clare Oldfield, Danny Gilbert, David Nolan, Deborah Ruiz Wall OA, Di Carr, Diane Coe, Eileen Burke, Elisabeth Burke, Elizabeth Rice, Eric Snowball, Esmey Herscovitch, Frank Vavasour, Gabrielle Nolan, Gabrielle Smith, Gladys Haines, Glen Jamieson, Helen Regan, Hilary Bone, Jack Callaghan, Joelle Battestini, John Ford, John Gavan, John Hill, John Wong, Kate Gavan, Kathleen Gilbert, Len De Lorenzo, Leonie Martin, Linda Kemp, Lucy-Anne Riley, Maggie Galley, Maria Henry, Marnie Kennedy , Mary Cawood, Mary McGowan, Mary McMahon, Maureen Flood, May Wong, Michael Gravener, Michael McIntyre, Pat Ormesher, Patricia Kennedy, Peter Griffen, Peter Manning, Pierre Thibaudeau, Ralph Townsend, Rhonda Ansiewicz, Sheila Quonoey, Stephen Darmody, Trevor Davies, Trudy Williams, Victoria Nolan,

The following helpful response was received 7 months later –

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