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Attendees of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral in Broome on July 3 (Broome Diocese)

Recent celebrations in the Kimberley in Western Australia have shown that the Catholic faith and Indigenous culture in the region are alive and thriving. Source: Broome Diocese.

On the feast of the nativity of John the Baptist on June 24, Mass was celebrated in six languages in the Kimberley community of Bidyadanga. Members of Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral Parish in Broome travelled for two hours to join the celebrations.

Aunty Shirley Quaresmin of Broome said the Bidyadanga “community were so grateful that we could join them on this special occasion”. 

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander liturgy, the Missa Terra Spiritus Sancti (formerly Missa Kimberley).

When asked about the 50-year anniversary of the liturgy, Bidyadanga church leader Madeleine Jadai said, “I feel very emotional. Bidyadanga is one of the places where the Missa Kimberley started when we were kids. Our old people have been celebrating in this way for so long. It brings us together,” Ms Jadai said.

“Our way, our culture and our languages with the liturgy – they come together. Our Aboriginal spirituality comes together in the Mass and it’s very meaningful. This is how we get in touch with God and our old people. This Mass helps us to grow strong in our faith. It helps us connect deep in our hearts.”

It was standing room only in Broome’s Cathedral on Sunday, July 3, marking the liturgy’s golden jubilee, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday and the beginning of NAIDOC Week.

The Mass concluded with an acknowledgement of parishioner Liz Davie receiving the 2023 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council Service to Community Award, as well as the blessing song for all elders.

One of the visitors who joined everybody for morning tea was Pallottine Fr Kevin McKelson’s niece, Mary Malone. Fr McKelson (1926-2011), along with the people of Bidyadanga, co-wrote the wording of the Missa Kimberley Mass.


Faith and Culture Alive and Thriving in the Kimberley (Broome Diocese)