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1986 Meeting of St John Paul II with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in Alice Springs

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3 November All day

‘You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.’

St John Paul II, Alice Springs, 1986.

Thirty years later, John Lochowiak, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, reflected on the importance of St John Paul II’s visit.

‘As Saint John Paul II spoke, a wind storm picked up the red soil from the Earth and swirled it amongst our people. The dust seemed to intertwine with the words of love, hope and empathy. The message touched our souls and it touched our skin. Never before had we felt so welcome in the house of Jesus. The impact of this day on our lives cannot be measured. It provided the encouragement for the establishment of Aboriginal and Islander Catholic Ministries all over Australia and it lit the fire our hearts which still provides the warmth, energy and strength for us to continue. We now have over 120,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics in Australia and the support of our Australian Catholic Bishops on our journey of faith.’

John Lochowiak, NATSICC Chairperson, 2016