The annual SVD Mission Day, to take place on Saturday, October 2, is moving online this year and inviting participants to explore Australian Indigenous Culture. Mission and Spiritualties in an ecumenical context.
Fr Albano Da Costa SVD, who is Dean of Studies at the SVD formation house, Dorish Maru College in Melbourne and a missiological theologian teaching at the University of Divinity, says the Mission Day program will invite responses to the book ‘Unbreakable Rock: Exploring the Mystery of Altyerre’ by Michael Bowden.
“The Divine Word Missionaries and the Australian Association for Mission Studies are partnering to hold a three-hour Mission Day online formative event,” Fr Albano says. “This year the event is an ecumenical one.”
Fr Albano says the focus on Michael Bowden’s book and his work with the indigenous communities of Central Australia will provide a springboard for theological and missionary reflection.
“Michael, who passed away before his book was published, was a talented sportsman, footballer, teacher and bridge-builder, who embraced the Arrernte culture at all levels – as a teacher, community worker and student of the culture itself,” he says.
“He learned the language and grammar and increasingly began to merge his Catholic background with the Altyerre – the ancient and enduring Arrernte way of seeing the world.”
In his book, Michael wrote: “My aim in writing this book is to assist the reader in gaining an appreciation of the complex religious and social world view of many Mparntwe Arrernte people who live in the Centre of Australia, in and around Mparntwe. More particularly, the book seeks to introduce readers to Altyerre spirituality and its relationship to the Catholic tradition”.
Also on the agenda will be consideration of one of the questions being posed at the Australian Plenary Council Assembly: How might the Church in Australia open in new ways to indigenous ways of being Christian in spirituality, theology, liturgy and missionary discipleship? How might we learn from the First Nations people?
Speakers at the Mission Day forum will include Majella Bowden from Charles Darwin University; Michel Andraos from St Paul’s University, Canada; Auntie Denise Champion, Adelaide College; Lawrence Moloney, La Trobe University; John Stuart, Living Well Spirituality Centre; Ross MacKinnon, AAMS; and Darrell Jackson, Whitley College. The day will be facilitated by Therese D’Orsa from BBI-TAITE.