St Joseph’s Merewether open and bless new Aboriginal sacred space

As part of their NAIDOC Week events, St Joseph’s Primary School, Merewether officially opened and blessed their Aboriginal sacred space.

The opening was attended by Louise Campbell, Aboriginal Education Officer at the Catholic Schools Office (CSO), Suzanne Fern, Head of Teaching and Learning at the CSO, Catherine Murray, former Assistant Principal of St Joseph’s and Virginia Milliken, Education Officer from the CSO.

Unveiled by Louise Campbell, the artwork for the space was created by internationally renowned Aboriginal artist, Richard Campbell and local sculptural artist and school parent, Julie Squires. The artworks represent the Stations of the Cross and also include a bronze brolga sculpture depicting the resurrection. 

The morning began with a smoking ceremony, as students walked along the Stations of the Cross with the smoking coolamon. The smoking incense represented the spiritual cleansing of the space, connecting Aboriginal culture with Christian culture, and prepared the space for meeting – meeting with others, both familiar and new, and meeting with Christ.

A Prayer for the Aboriginal People was followed by the blessing of the space by Father Peter Street.

“We believe this space is one where we can come to be guided to live the truth, so, in keeping with our school motto we would like to name this scared space, Tokooliba, meaning ‘place of truth’,” said Karen McGinlay, Principal of St Joseph’s.

“I would like to acknowledge that the vision for this Aboriginal sacred space at St Joseph’s came from the former leadership team here at St Joseph’s, with Mr Peter Treloar and Ms Di Murphy.

“This space is intended to be one of calmness and stillness in the busy life of the school. A quiet place of rest and reflection, where those in our community can come to pray, think, meditate and connect with those spirit.

“It is a place for both individual and group contemplation and we hope that all those who choose to come to this sacred place will feel Christ’s presence and guidance.”

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