Missa Kimberley 50 years

Faith and Culture Alive and Thriving in the Kimberley

By Dr Mark Copland, Diocesan Director of Pastoral Projects

It is always special to celebrate mass as a community in one language.  It is wonderful when we do this with two – but on the feast of the nativity of John the Baptist mass was celebrated in six languages in the Kimberley community of Bidyadanga. Members of Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral Parish in Broome travelled two hours to join the celebrations. The little church came alive with prayer and praise. The community were so grateful that we could join them on this special occasion, said Aunty Shirley Quaresmin. When asked about the 50 year anniversary (of Missa Kimberley in Bidyadanga) Church leader Madeleine Jadai stated, Ï feel very emotional. Bidyadanga is one of the places where the Missa Kimberley started when we were kids. Our old people have been celebrating in this way for so long.  It brings us together. Our way, our culture and our languages with the liturgy – they come together. Our Aboriginal spirituality comes together in the mass and it’s very meaningful. This is how we get in touch with God and our old people. This mass helps us to grow strong in our faith.  It helps us connect deep in our hearts.

Auntie Shirley Quaresimin and Madeleine Jadai at feastday celebrations in Bidyadanga. -- Mary Malone (niece of Fr Kevin McKelson) and Madeleine Jadai at Aboriginal Sunday celebration in Broome

The theme for this year’s NAIDOC Week is ‘For Our Elders’. Nothing could be more fitting than that the Diocese of Broome celebrate 50 years since the Missa Terra Spiritus Sancti (formerly Missa Kimberley) first became part of the Australian Church. It was standing room only in Broome’s Cathedral as a special Aboriginal Sunday marking both the 50th anniversary of the Mass of the Land of the Holy Spirit and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday was celebrated.

Young and old, visitors and parishioners all came together to celebrate the mass in a special Kimberley way. This was the best celebration we have had for a long time. Everybody was filled with a spirit of unity and hope, Aunty Shirley Quaresmin noted. Aunty Shirley is a member of the Cathedral Parish Council and is Deputy Chair of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC). The mass concluded with an acknowledgement of parishioner Liz Davie receiving the 2023 NATSICC Service to Community Award, as well as the blessing song for all elders present - Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous. One of the visitors who joined everybody for morning tea was Fr Kevin McKelson’s niece Mary Malone. Fr McKelson, along with the people of Bidyadanga, co-wrote the wording of the Missa Kimberley mass. Other locations across the Diocese, such as Halls Creek parish, similarly celebrated Aboriginal Sunday. This has been a great celebration of faith, culture and language throughout the Kimberley. The Holy Spirit in this land!!

See Item in CathNews

Some of those who attended the '50 Years of Missa Kimberley' Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral, July 2, 2023
Some of those who attended the '50 Years of Missa Kimberley' Mass at Our Lady Queen of Peace Cathedral, July 2, 2023

Caption for Banner: Cover of Mass Booklet- Bidyadanga -- Bidyadanga Church of St John the Baptist where the 'Missa Kimberley' was developed by Fr Kevin McKelson, sac -- Celebration at the Broome Cathedral.  Shirley Quaresimin, Fr Patricio Carrera Morales, Liz Davie, Fr Liam Ryan.

Broome Diocese acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners and Elders, both past and present, of the lands on which Broome Diocese offices and operations are located.