• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

Wednesday, 28 April 2021 12:09

Easter reminds us to choose life amidst our losses

 

Fr Asaeli Raass profile pic 150Dear Friends,

It was 32 degrees on Palm Island and close to 10am on Holy Saturday. Standing on a molten rock a few metres from the sea with my fishing line tugged firmly in my hand, I waited. No bites for almost two hours. Still, I enjoyed the stunning vastness and beauty of the Pacific Ocean. It is awe-inspiring. From biologists and scientists to divers and sailors and indigenous peoples, the ocean and its entire ecosystem is the subject of fascination, curiosity, and joy for millions of people all around the world.

Recently, I attended a virtual workshop in Melbourne marking the sixth anniversary of Pope Francis’ apostolic letter Laudato Si’ calling all Christians to live into a new paradigm of Integral Ecology. It was organised by the Sisters of Mercy in partnership with the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at ACU. Presenters were Professor Celia Deane-Drummond – Director Laudato Si’ Research Institute, Campion Hall, Oxford, Rev Dr Peter Loy Chong - President of the Federation of Bishops’ Conferences of Oceania and Archbishop of Suva, Fiji and the famous Catholic Professor Brian Swimme from the US- Director of the Centre for the Story of the Universe and professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. The three-day conference was framed around contemplating the signs of the times and contributing towards imaginative outcomes for oceans, rivers and creeks, and explored the effects of climate change in the Pacific islands, advocacy, project planning and ways Australia can help.

Palm Island, which lies off Townsville, Queensland, is a spectacular paradise with a population of about 4,000 people, comprising approximately 40-42 Aboriginal skin groups from across Australia. The SVD has recently taken over the care of the parish there. There is a history of the Bwgcolman People that no one wants to talk about. It is sad and heartbreaking. Driving around the island and meeting locals, I started to wonder how the SVDs and the Holy Spirit Sisters (SSpS) could help facilitate change on the island. How to even begin to touch and understand the messiness of the island history of dispossession since the 1920s? How could the missionaries accompany God’s children on Palm Island in the face of fewer jobs and strong reliance on social welfare? The invitation to live fully in God who offers endless forgiveness and mercy rings true for this tropical paradise.

On Easter Sunday, Fr Manh Le SVD offered a challenge to the islanders based on the Book of Genesis, “We know it is paradise lost through your many losses but Easter means paradise regained through Jesus’ Resurrection”. What I gathered from his Easter homily was that through the faithfulness of Christ — paradise was beginning to be regained. And in time, all things will be restored (Acts 3:17–21). Until then, being in Christ means that we too have been called to take part in God’s regaining of paradise (see John 15) hence the reason why we are on Palm island. Perhaps the challenge for the islanders is for all to choose life over what they have lost in culture and language and family connections. A very good reflection by a resilient Vietnamese-Australian confrere who just completed many years along the Amazon river, Brazil.

On Holy Thursday I was fortunate to also break bread with Frs Joseph Reddy SVD and Clement Baffoe SVD in Townsville. Preaching away was our newly ordained Clement, who explored with his parishioners the word ‘freedom’ in the context of Israel’s liberation from Egypt and how elusive it is even at a personal level. Listening to Fr Clement’s reflections on liberation, and choosing life over that which is not life-giving, I was reminded of Jesus who attended to the real needs of his contemporaries. He believed and trusted his Father and yet became one of us in our complexity.

My time in regional Australia showed me once again that the good things still far outweigh the bad and it pays to remain positive about God’s mission - Jesus is alive and well, Alleluia! From time to time, I feel how blessed we are to have 80 per cent of our confreres energetic and willing and able to be part of this missionary work of liberating love in Myanmar, Thailand, New Zealand and Australia. It is always tricky to start a new mission, still, we are there in response to the call of the Holy Spirit, the needs of the First Peoples and regional Australia. Who knows what God has in mind for the Arnoldus family these days? We can only trust the Divine Word to reveal it to us in due time. Let’s  allow that trust to bear fruit by the workings of the Holy Spirit.

Yours in the Word,

Fr Asaeli Rass SVD,

Provincial.