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 six members working in the Central Australia District and our vision for the district is that:
We, Divine Word Missionaries, commit to incarnate ourselves into the social, spiritual and cultural realities of Northern Territory 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 Australia.
The Society of the Divine Word sees its mission in Central Australia as having the following dimensions:
• We are bridge builders between different ethnic communities of the local church.
• We have preferential option for the physical, social, cultural, environmental and spiritual well-being of Aboriginal Catholics of Northern Territory.
• We work ecumenically with our brothers and sisters of other Christian traditions and followers of other religions.
• All of the above will stand or fall on our ability to develop our personal and communal SVD spiritual growth.
• We will work towards creating an SVD Centre / house in Northern Territory SVD District for the promotion of our SVD Characteristic Dimensions and spiritual formation keeping our indigenous people as the focus point of our ministry.
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;
• 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 as well as media studies programs for indigenous people;
• Helping our young SVD confreres in the Cross-Cultural Training Programs or their Overseas Training Programs.
Fr Prakash Menezes SVD (Parish Priest) and Fr Van Bang Nguyen SVD are ministering at Our Lady of the Sacred H eart Parish, Alice Springs. Fr Elmer Ibarra SVD is ministering at Santa Teresa Parish Community. Fr Olivier Noclam SVD is appointed Chaplain and Fr Alfonsus Nahak, Assistant Chaplain for the Arrernte Catholics and are actively ministering to their sacramental needs in and around Central Australia.
Recently the SVD’s purchased a property in Central Australia, about 10 km from Alice Springs, to further our mission here. At the moment we are slowly settling down in the new place and planning our next project to use it for the spiritual development of our local people.