National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Resources

Keep the Fire Burning - Strong in Faith

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Resources

7 July 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,


Welcome to this special celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. On this day, we gather as one community to honour and celebrate the rich cultural heritage and contributions of our First Nations Peoples to our Australian Catholic Church.

This liturgy resource has been thoughtfully compiled to enrich your worship experience on this significant day.


The Gospel Reading for 7 July, from Mark 6:1-6, tells the story of Jesus returning to His hometown, only to be met with scepticism and disbelief. Despite His teachings and miracles, those who knew Him best failed to recognise His divine wisdom and power.

This passage resonates deeply with our own experiences as First Australians, as we can often find that our voices go unheard and our contributions not embraced.


The recent Voice referendum highlighted the ongoing journey toward recognition and reconciliation. While the outcome was not what many hoped for, it has strengthened our resolve and commitment to working together for a better Australia for everyone. Like Jesus, who persevered in His mission despite the obstacles, we too remain committed to our Culture, our Land, our Church, and our communities with unwavering hope and determination.


As we gather on this sacred land, we acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and honour our Elders past and present, and our young people. Our connection to the land, waters, and skies is deeply rooted in our identity and spirituality. We invite you to join us in respecting and cherishing this connection, as it is vital to our shared journey of faith.


Our prayer is that this resource will deepen your understanding and appreciation of the diverse cultures and histories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Through the prayers, reflections, and hymns included in this Liturgy, may we all be inspired to walk together in reconciliation, respect, and unity.


As Pope Francis reminds us, we are called to be a Church that goes forth, embracing all cultures and peoples. Let us open our hearts to the wisdom and spirituality of our First Nations Peoples, recognizing the presence of Christ in our stories and traditions. May this celebration be a moment of grace, healing, and transformation for all of us.


Thank you for joining us in this celebration. May the Holy Spirit guide and bless each of us as we journey together in faith, hope, and love.



Pentecost painting by Magda Lee, Gracie Mosquito and Imelda Gugamen (Balgo Community)


The four circles in the corners of painting represent the four communities: Wirrimanu, Mulan, Kurrurungku and Ringer Soak. The leaders are represented through the horse shoes located around the circle. The different colours represent different people.


The stars represent the different flowers in our area. The dots represent people all over the world and the people coming together for Church. People are also represented through the horse shoes on the right of the painting.

Wirrimanu is located in the top left hand corner, Mulan in the top right hand corner, Ringer Soak in

the bottom right hand corner and Kurrurungku in the bottom left hand corner.


The Holy Spirit is located in the centre of the painting. It is the Spirit working in all of our communities.


Creating this painting helped to make us strong in the Spirit.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Resource Booklet

The 24 page, full colour booklet for 2024 has been designed to help Schools, Parishes and organisations celebrate the gifts of First Australian Catholics.


The NATSICC Liturgy team has compiled prayers, Liturgy suggestions, homily notes and statistics that will enhance and enrich your celebration.


Additionally, there is a practical activity that calls for Catholics around Australia to knit / crochet blankets for the NATSICC Palliative Care package program.


Booklet download   - Web Version Print Ready





Click on the image (left) to download a high resolution version of the 2024 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Poster.








Youth Activities



Activity 1: Keep the Fire Burning! Fires need three things to burn: heat, fuel and oxygen.


1. What three things help to keep your faith alive?

E.g. prayer, acts of service, forgiveness, music etc. Share with a partner or the whole class/ group.


2. After hearing what helps others keep their faith alive, what are two things you can do to help others stay strong in their faith?


3. How can you fuel the work for truth-telling, justice and reconciliation?


Activity 2: Stand Up!


First Reading: Ezekiel 2:2-5

The Spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me. He said, ‘Son of Man, I am sending you up to the Israelites, To the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’


In the first reading, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Ezekiel and Ezekiel receives his commission as prophet. But it was challenging for Ezekiel To share God’s message to a set of rebels who perhaps weren’t willing or able to listen. However, God reminds Ezekiel that whether people listen or not, they will know there is a prophet among them.


It is important to stand up for what we believe in, even if at times it feels like others won’t listen, and to remember that God is always with us. Who are the prophets among us? How are they calling us to act? What message do you want to share with your community?


Activity 3 - We are all connected!


Set-up: You need a ball of string. Everyone stands in a circle.


One group member starts by wrapping the string around their wrist. They then share something such as a place they like to visit. If others in the circle also like to visit this place then they put their hand up. The first student throws/rolls the string to someone in the circle with their hand up, aiming for the ball of string to cross the circle as much as possible. Group members continue to pass the string to others with their hand up creating the web.


Continue with ideas or activities such as sharing something they do to care for creation. If others have also completed this action pass the string to them and so on.


Make sure every person has a chance to hold and pass the string.




Let’s think of the web we have created to be like roots below the ground that helps hold soil together and provides the nutrients to the plants, keeping them strong and enabling them to grow. All of us are grounded in the particulars of our own lives, but all of us have roots that intertwine with the roots of others. These interconnected roots give us strength, support and a sense of belonging that empowers us to act in the world.


Written in collaboration with Caritas Australia

Multimedia Resources


Virtual Acknowledgment


This Acknowledgment of Country and presentation for use in Parishes and Schools will set the scene for your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday Celebrations is currently being prepared. It is suited for Parishes, Schools and Organisations who have been unable to invite a Traditional Custodian to provide a Welcome to Country. You  can either stream the video using the link below, or download to your local machine in readiness for you celebration by clicking here. The file size is 111mb.

Didgeridoo Music


As a way of enhancing and enriching your celebrations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday, NATSICC has engaged with young Catholic, Kuku Yalanji and Yidinji man Luke Stevens to produce a series of Didgeridoo tracks.


The NATSICC Liturgy Resource for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday makes suggestions of hymns that could be used for the Entrance and Communion parts of the Mass replacing the Entrance and Communion Antiphons in the Roman Missal. Each Didgeridoo track has a suggested application – Welcome/Entrance, Preparation of Gifts/Communion reflection and Farewell/After Mass – however we encourage you to use them as per your needs during Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday within your Parish.


An example for using this Didgeridoo music is to have a track playing as welcome music to set the scene when parishioners are arriving and being welcomed into Mass, prior to the entrance procession and Hymn. The Didgeridoo music serves to provide spiritual reflection for parishioners on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday at the following points:


Welcome/before Mass: Entrance Track (2:33mins)

Preparation of Gifts / Communion Reflection: Communion Track #1 (2:45mins) or Communion Track #2 (2:24mins)

Farewell/After Mass (as people are packing up & leaving): Recessional Track (4:43mins)

Extra tracks: Spare #1 (4:06mins) & Spare #2 (4:46mins)


About the Artist

"My name is Luke Stevens and I am a proud Kuku Yalanji and Yidinji man from Cairns, Far North Queensland. As a young Indigenous Catholic man, my faith has taken me on a journey where I have enjoyed finding unique ways to sharing faith with others.


Through using my culturally traditional gifts I have been able to express myself and I love that I have been blessed to share my faith with others"







Torres Strait Islander Hymns


Written and performed by our very own Torres Strait Islands Councillor Dolly McGaughey,  these beautiful hymns evoke the spirit of the Islands.


The Roman Catholic Church began its ministries in the Torres Strait when Pope Leo XIII requested that the Sacred Heart Fathers establish a Mission in New Guinea. It was decided among the Fathers that the setting up and servicing of such a Mission would be better facilitated if a site was chosen in the Torres Strait. Parishes are now established at (Sacred Heart) Thursday Island, (Holy Family) Horn island, (St Joseph the Worker's Church) Hammond Island and (St Stephen's) Bamaga.




Homily Notes

Bishop Danny Meagher (Auxiliary Bishop Archdiocese of Sydney, member of the Bishops Commission for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples)has provided the Homily Notes for this year's celebration:


You would think that, God being all powerful and eternal, those on the side of God would have things go their way.  However, here on Earth, this has not been the experience of God’s prophets and saints.  The readings today deal with this painful reality.


St Paul had a profound conversion experience on the road to Damascus and gave his life thereafter to preaching the Risen Christ.  However, as St Paul recounts in the second reading this only led to insult, hardships, persecution and agony.  In every way, Paul says he feels weak.  Yet Paul realised that God wanted him to know his weakness, because this allowed Paul in his humility to be filled with the power of Christ.  So Paul carried on, in his weakness, powerfully witnessing to Christ, right up to his martyrdom in Rome.


In the first reading, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Ezekiel and Ezekiel receives his commission as prophet.  But it was not anything humanly glorious, but rather to the same insult and persecution that Paul experienced as he was called on to prophesise to a defiant and obstinate people – set of rebels.

These readings set the scene for the Gospel.  Jesus returned to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and preached in the synagogue.  Despite the brilliance of his teaching, Jesus’ own people did not accept him.  They thought they knew him and could not seem to accept that Jesus might be so much more than the carpenter’s son.  On his part, Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith and could work no miracles there.  Jesus could raise the dead.  He could walk on water.  He could feed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread.  But, if people had no faith, He could do nothing for them.

And, of course, we know that Jesus would continue to be rejected by his own people despite all the good that he did.  After three years of public ministry, Jesus would be handed over by his own people to be crucified.


Many felt crushed by the loss of the Referendum last year.  It seemed a just cause in the process of Reconciliation, yet was rejected by the Australian people.  We need to acknowledge the feelings of rejection and disappointment – much like the insults and agony St Paul spoke about – that many First Nations people experience.


However, the time will come when all Australians must continue the journey of Reconciliation.  Our deepest identity is that we are sisters and brothers in Christ.  We are created, loved and redeemed by God.  Our homeland is together with our Father in Heaven.  Even now we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  Reconciliation is right.  It is what God wants.  This is our faith and our faith keeps us strong.  It gives us direction.  And it gives us the knowledge that, one day, God’s Kingdom will come.


We are called to be strong in faith, as Ezekiel, St Paul and Jesus were.  Each of them suffered terrible rejection, yet their faith gave them the strength and confidence to keep going.  Because faith attaches us to God and God’s power can be manifest in people of faith.


The themes for today – “Keep the fires burning” and “Strong in faith” are very much related and so necessary for those working for Reconciliation.  Being strong in faith is to keep the fire deep within our hearts burning.  For it is to retain hope that God’s ways, whatever the rejections and insults and agonies, will in the end win out.  And faith attaches us to God, so we can continue to know God’s love deep within our hearts, which gives us the capacity to love and to forgive even in the darkest of times.


Elsewhere in the New Testament, St Paul writes that we must endure many difficulties before we enter the Kingdom of God.  So it was for Ezekiel, St Paul and Jesus Himself.  So, it is for us.  But God is greater than everything.  For those who stay close to God, all things turn out for the good.



Our voices on.........

A page that shares NATSICC's points of view on various important topics, including the Environment, the Indigenous Voice to Parliament and more.


Link to page


National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council

'The peak Indigenous advisory body to the Catholic Church'

80C Payneham Rd.

Stepney SA 5069   |   | 08 8363 2963


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