The Divine Word Missionaries have answered a call from the Bishop of Darwin to live, work and minister with the communities of Central Australia. This includes in a special way the indigenous peoples of Central Australia, as well as the people of many different cultures and backgrounds who have settled in Alice Springs and surrounds.
For more than a decade now, the SVD have enjoyed the pastoral care of the communities of Our Lady of Sacred Heart Parish Alice Springs and the Santa Teresa Parish, about 90km outside Alice Springs. We also play a role in the pastoral care of Catholic school teachers and other employees of the Darwin Diocese.
We currently have seven members working in the Central Australia District and our vision for the district is that:
“As an international community living in remote parts of Central Australia, we strive to become a sacramental unity for all those to whom we minister. We witness to the coming kingdom through our evangelizing, prophetic dialogue, respect for and study of culture and pursuit of justice and peace for all. We take our inspiration and guidance from the Word of God.
We commit to incarnate ourselves into the social, spiritual and cultural realities of Central Australia in imitation of Jesus, the Word made flesh. We do this to help the local church become a true Sacrament of Unity to the wider community of Central Australia.”
The Society of the Divine Word sees its mission in Central Australia as having the following dimensions:
- Being bridge builders between different communities of the local Church;
- Ministering to specific needs of each community;
- Working ecumenically with our brothers and sisters of other Christian traditions and followers of other religions;
- Taking a preferential option for the physical, social, cultural and spiritual well-being of Aboriginal Catholics of Central Australia.
Our activities in Central Australia include:
- Providing sacramental and other spiritual opportunities;
- Conducting faith formation and catechesis;
- Bible study and sharing group in the parish;
- Supporting Catholic schools in their ministries;
- Working closely with Catholic institutions such as St Vincent de Paul Society and CatholicCare, particularly in attending to the needs of poor and marginalized people;
- Supporting and participating in common activities with other religious groups in Central Australia;
- Working closely with the Diocese of Darwin in producing and living out the Diocesan Pastoral Plan;
- Working with The Broken Bay Institute in providing theological courses for lay people in Central Australia;
- Supporting the ongoing development of a youth/young adult group;
- Giving special attention to the spiritual needs of multicultural groups in the parish, including the Malayalam/Indian, Filipino, South Pacific, American and African groups;
- Visiting the local hospital, clinic and nursing homes;
- Attending to the specific needs of the Aboriginal people through regular visits to their homes, town camps and remote communities;
- Visiting and conducting prayer services in Alice Springs Prison;
- Working with Nungalinya College Darwin in promoting biblical studies programs for indigenous people;
- Helping our young SVD confreres in the Cross-Cultural Training Programs or their Overseas Training Programs.
Fr Bosco Son SVD is the parish priest of Santa Teresa and Fr Asaeli Raass SVD is parish priest of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Alice Springs. Fr Jan Szweda SVD is parish priest at Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land.