Protection of the environment challenges the modern world to guarantee a harmonious form of development, respectful of the design of God the Creator
and therefore capable of safeguarding the planet - Pope Benedict XVI
The NATSICC Youth Gathering 2010 was held in Brisbane from May 13-16. The gathering brought together Aboriginal youth from every state and territory of the country. The forum provided an opportunity to explore matters of faith and spirituality in the context of being a young Indigenous Catholic person today. Apart from listening to a range of speakers, the gathering also provided the space for these young people to express their hopes and fears. It was an amazing privilege to witness such thinking and insight.
In making a presentation to the youth gathering about the work and mandate of Catholic Earthcare Australia, I reflected on the voices of the Indigenous young people and become more acutely aware that any hope of authentic reconciliation as a nation of peoples and more deeply with Earth, must flow from a deep ecological conversion that is uniquely Australian. A conversion that honours and is inspired by the ancient and mystical Aboriginal culture and spirituality and in doing so, move ever closer to a ‘New Dreaming’ and a ‘New Creation’.
Presenting to the gathering also provided an opportunity to outline the planning that is taking place to develop some new Earthcare initiatives, namely an ASSISI Youth Program and ‘Creation and Reconciliation’ Programs for school leavers and adults in unique locations across Australia.
Of greatest significance however, is that upon leaving the gathering, some key relationships were established that will prove to be the lifeblood of the journey towards holistic reconciliation.
Catholic Earthcare Australia
The Franciscans are currently working with Catholic Earthcare in developing a formation programme for the Friars to deepen their understanding of environmental issues and to experience this ecological conversion. They are also working with CarbonSystems Australia to develop the tool for gathering information/data and in order to calculate the energy used by the Province and to evaluate our practices. A long and slow process of education but one that each member of the Province is committed too.