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Bishop Michael Morrissey, left, Maureen Yanawana, Madeleine Jadai and Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB with a copy of the Mass of the Land of the Holy Spirit (ACBC)

Australia’s Catholic bishops have approved a liturgy that incorporates elements of Aboriginal language and culture. Source: ACBC Media Blog. 

A motion was passed at the plenary meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference in Sydney yesterday approving the Mass of the Land of the Holy Spirit (Missa Terra Spiritus Sancti) for use in the Diocese of Broome in Western Australia. 

The Mass will now be submitted to the Dicastery for Divine Worship for what is known as recognitio, or official recognition by the Vatican. 

“We have to walk with Aboriginal people. I am so pleased that after such a long period of use the Missa Terra Spiritus Sancti has been given official recognition by the bishops of Australia,” the Bishop Administrator of Broome, Michael Morrissey, said. 

Two elders from the Bidyadanga (La Grange) parish – Maureen Yanawana and Madeleine Jadai – came to Sydney to present a printed copy of the Mass to bishops and talk about their experience with it. 

Ms Yanawana said of the sung Mass: “Singing at the top of our voices brings us peace.” 

“We would like to see you, all our bishops, stepping in our shoes, be invited to sit around our people, have that patience and just listen,” she told bishops at the presentation event at Mary MacKillop Place. 

The Mass was given official permission for use by the Bishop of Broome in May 1973 as a culturally adapted liturgy to be used ad experimentum

Since that time, the Mass has been known as Missa Bidyadanga/Indigena/Kimberley and has been celebrated weekly in remote communities. 

It originated at Bidyadanga, in the West Kimberley region of Western Australia. 

The late Fr Kevin McKelson SAC, together with the late Tommy Dodds and other Aboriginal elders from five local indigenous communities, carefully translated the English version of the Mass of the Roman Rite into each of the five language groups spoken in the community – Garadyari, Nyangumada, Yulbaridya, Dyuwaliny and Mangala. With the support of the then bishop, John Jobst, Fr McKelson refined and developed the texts of the Mass to the needs of the community. 

The current Mass of the Land of the Holy Spirit was published by Liturgy Brisbane in 2018. 

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council described it as a “distinctive Mass that beautifully amalgamates Catholic tradition with Aboriginal culture, thereby creating a unique celebration of faith that has served the diocese for over five decades”. 


 Bishops approve Mass of the Land of the Holy Spirit (ACBC Media Blog)