Aboriginal Catholic Ministry
Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle fosters the spiritual, cultural and social development of Aboriginal Australians. Aboriginal Catholic Ministry functions as a collaborative group to:
- bring together the Catholic rituals and Aboriginal spiritual ways of ceremony, by being a voice for the correct rituals for Aboriginal ways
- advise and promote cultural protocols for Aboriginal/Catholic ceremonies
- be an advocacy group for Aboriginal issues
- recognise and promote the history of Aboriginal Catholic heritage
- link Aboriginal students to identify with their heritage and be proud that they are part of a Catholic school system and identify with Aboriginal Catholic spirituality
- outreach to parents of Aboriginal students to let them know about Aboriginal Catholic spirituality.
In 1997, the Catholic Church officially designated the first Sunday in July as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. The aim of this day is to encourage Catholics locally, to focus their worship on Aboriginal and Torres Islander people and their culture and the issues of social justice they represent.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) was formed in 1989 at the first national conference of the Aboriginal and Islander Catholic Councils. In 1992 the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference officially recognised and welcomed it as the national representative and consultative body to the Church on issues concerning indigenous Catholics.
NATSICC plans a National Assembly every three years, to which the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle sends a representative.
The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle also regularly participates in NAIDOC Week and National Reconciliation Week and has connections with Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTaR).