Responding to environmental issues and engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are areas that require more than a single ministry’s focus, but demand attention across the Province.
Ministry among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
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.
Reconciliation with Creation
Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si’ has challenged all Catholic communities to do more to care for the environment on which we all depend for life.
In June 2017, the Australian Jesuit Provincial Fr Brian McCoy SJ announced that the Province would begin to move towards divestment in fossil fuels, and to commit to offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from air travel. The carbon offset scheme we are contributing to is Flights for Forests, a Jesuit-run initiative which supports forestry programs across the Asia-Pacific region.
The Asia Pacific Jesuit Conference has made ‘Reconciliation with Creation’ one of the key elements of its mission, calling on Jesuit ministries to develop concrete programs and initiatives to address environmental issues. More about these programs can be found at EcoJesuit.
Schools, social ministries, parishes and other ministries across the Province are engaging in reconciliation in a number of ways, including participating in the Season of Creation from 1 September to 4 October 2017. Beyond that, communities can encourage prayer and reflection on our relationship with creation using this ecological examen tool.