Posted on: Wednesday 24 July 2019
Posted in: Religious Education
Last Wednesday, we had the induction of the Senior Prefects and Prefects for 2020 and next Wednesday we will hold our observance of NAIDOC Week.
We are always a little out of kilter with NAIDOC Week as it usually falls in the June/July holidays. It might also seem a bit out of kilter that we induct our student leaders in Term 3, but this is due to the change from the OP system to the ATAR system of external assessment. It does, however, allow the Prefects of 2019 to mentor our Prefects of 2020 and it is this passing on of knowledge which links these two occasions.
The passing on of knowledge is so very important in any society as it gives not only a sense of stability but a sense of belonging from one generation to the next. I remember thinking, as I stood in York Minster and read the names of all the clergy who have held office there for over a thousand years, what a continuity that list represented. I recognised the names of famous people who had been only names but now they were real. They had stood there in the Minster, just as I had. They saw the soaring columns and the light streaming through the stain glass windows just as I did. They had marvelled at the beauty of the huge rose windows. Their hands had touched the cold stone of the walls and low benches as mine did.
Yes, I felt a sense of continuity and of belonging which all came from knowledge of the past. I had read books of history and even used Google to gather more facts, but to be there in that spot gave it a reality and substance that was previously lacking. Just imagine what it must be like to have that knowledge stripped away and lost! That, of course, is what happened to our own indigenous people. Their loss was not only of their land, but their “country”, their culture and in many cases their language. A break in continuity and a destabilising of their sense of belonging. No wonder the themes of this year’s NAIDOC Week were “Voice, Treaty and Truth”. A voice to tell their story, a story 70,000 years in the making. A treaty to recognise not just their existence as First Nation People but their triumph over the adversity of dispossession and marginalisation. However, such a voice and such a treaty can only come into existence when the truth of the last two centuries is fully heard and acknowledged by us all.
Fr. Patrick Duckworth