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Sherry Balcombe presents the new message stick to Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne (Melbourne Catholic)

Victoria’s Aboriginal Catholic community has gifted a new message stick to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, representing Aboriginal people’s contribution to the Church in Australia. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

The message stick was presented to Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli during a Mass to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday on July 2.

“I am honoured to be here to represent the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria and recognise that we are on the sacred land of the Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin Nations,” said Sherry Balcombe of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria.

“The Creator chose Aboriginal people to take care of this land; our lore was to sustain and nurture all that had been created. My ancestors have forever danced and sang the creation stories proclaiming the sacredness of the gift given by the Creator Spirit.

“We are proud to gift our beautiful Cathedral this special message stick.

“By accepting this message stick, you commit yourselves to respecting the ancient Dreaming, which has been part of the spirituality of Australia since the incarnation of Christ, and it is the Aboriginal way of touching the mystery of God.”

Ms Balcombe said there were more than 600 message sticks in parishes and schools in Victoria, and that they existed as “a testament to the wonderful resource that we offer in reconciliation with the wider community. This message stick represents Aboriginal people’s contribution to the Catholic Church in Australia”.

Traditionally, message sticks were used as a form of communication between tribal groups, with the solid piece of wood etched with a particular motif.

“Today, it carries an invitation to the wider Church to accept our contribution,” Ms Balcombe said.

The artwork on the new message stick was designed by Melissa Brickell, a long-time supporter of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Victoria. It includes an image of the Eucharist, a flame representing Christ, and dots and circles to represent Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people coming together.

It is envisaged that the message stick will be displayed near the entrance of the Cathedral in the coming months.


New message stick presented to St Patrick’s Cathedral at start of NAIDOC Week (Melbourne Catholic)