The Australian Jesuits’ engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples stretches back to the early Aboriginal Missions at Daly River in the late 1800s.
In recent years, the Province has had a number of Jesuits engaged in ministry among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including our current Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ, who has been particularly involved with communities in the Kutjungka region of the Kimberley. Other Jesuits who work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people include Fr Pat Mullins SJ, who works in Western Sydney, and Fr Frank Brennan SJ, who has a long history of advocacy on Indigenous issues.
A number of the Province’s ministries also have a focus on working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Jesuit Social Services partners with Arrente communities in the Northern Territory, and works with various young Indigenous people in its other programs in Melbourne and Sydney. Meanwhile, a number of Jesuit schools have partnerships and run immersion programs with Aboriginal communities.
The Province’s Bookends Project aims to raise awareness and prompt action right across the Province in support of First Nations peoples. The Project is calling on staff in all Province’s ministries to ask themselves, ‘How can I open my heart and contribute to better relations with our First Nations peoples?’
The Bookends project consists of three overlapping stages:
Step 1: Get to know
The objective of this stage is personal engagement. We shall create opportunities for all members to meet and engage with First Nation peoples, asylum seekers and refugees. We hope that you will accept at least one of these invitations to listen and engage with these people as fellow travellers in life’s journey towards God.
Step 2: Come to understand
The objective of this stage is to engage minds as well as hearts. We shall circulate information which will help you deepen your understanding of the issues and policy challenges that are critically important to First Nations peoples, asylum seekers and refugee communities.
Step 3: Get to Work
The objective of this stage is local action. After you have engaged with First Nations and asylum seeker and refugee communities, what steps can you take to support them? What can your ministry do to advance the interests of First Nations peoples, asylum seekers and refugees?
Information is being sent around to the Province periodically with the intention of raising awareness on topic issues, and offering opportunities for people to get involved in events both internally and externally to the Province. Please keep an eye on the electronic Bookends Project Calendar to see what is coming up.