Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    The Journey Of Reconcilliation

    Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

    The Journey of Reconciliation

    Ash Wednesday was a very important day for the community at Saint Ignatius College Geelong due to the celebration of two significant parallel beginnings. As a Catholic community, staff and students received the ashes as Lent began and the start of forty days of preparation of growing closer to God and others. The College also unveiled a significant symbol of the desire to further the College’s journey of reconciliation and justice for our nation’s First Peoples in the form of an Indigenous Acknowledgement sign. Both of these events are beginnings of significant journeys of preparation, friendship and service.

    Saint Ignatius College has a dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Committee (ATSI) that over a number of years has developed a vision of reconciliation and support for our Indigenous students. A crucial aspect that had been discussed throughout 2019 was a public statement of a commitment to reconciliation and the acknowledgement of the nation’s First Peoples. A sign to this effect was agreed to be a suitable illustration of this intent. 

     Fortuitously, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) simultaneously released a plaque that perfectly encapsulated this vision. The focal point of the plaque is an image designed by Murri Ministry (Brisbane, Queensland) that depicts reconciliation as “black and white people coming together and growing in faith and respect for one another”.

    The College was blessed to work with Craig Arthur (NATSICC National Administrator) and John Lochowiak (NATSICC Chairperson) who supported the vision of upscaling the plaque as designed so that it was equal in size to other significant signs at the College. 

    The unveiling of the sign on Ash Wednesday was supported by the presence and support of John Lochowiak (NATSICC), Rebecca Famlonga (Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation), Fr James Puppady (College Chaplin and President of the Canonical Administrators) along with the College’s FIRE Carriers (staff and students). In particular John’s message of encounter, friendship and understanding strongly aligned with that of Saint Ignatius’ ATSI Committee and inspirational to those in attendance. 

    After the unveiling ceremony and liturgy, a mission of reconciliation was presented to the attendees. The knowledge passed on by John and the vision of justice prompted reflection, conversation and response. 

    For the College, the sign is significant, but in itself is only a symbol. Reconciliation is a journey, and this beginning presents future opportunities. With the support of NATSICC, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Melbourne (ACM) and the local Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation, the College will seek to further the journey of reconciliation. Through friendship, understanding and service, the community of Saint Ignatius College seeks justice for and affirms the dignity of our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

    Brendan Nicholls  FIRE Carrier, Religious Education and Liturgy Coordinator


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