Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Catholic Ministry (ATSICM)

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Ministry of the Diocese of Broken Bay was established to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples a voice in the Diocese of Broken Bay. 

 The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Ministry of the Diocese of Broken Bay was established in 2010 with the vision to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples a voice in the Diocese of Broken Bay.

This vision has led to the formation of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Ministry  (ATSICM).


It aims to:

  • develop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic communities with local leadership and ministries
  • encourage and guide the work of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team
  • educate the wider Australian society, especially the Catholic community to understand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their culture and history
  • provide culturally appropriate faith expressions and liturgical celebrations
  • promote and celebrate the Catholic identity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by assisting in developing a personal commitment to their faith, cultures and lifestyle
  • promote reconciliation among our parishioners and the wider communities, and to provide a place of belonging and welcome for the wider community.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday 1 July 2018

The Australian Church celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday on 1 July 2018. This year's theme is "Because of Her, we Can". 

Resources have been produced for this occasion by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC).

Access resources at http://www.natsicc.org.au/2018-aboriginal-and-islander-sunday.html 

Resources Archive

30th Anniversary of Visit of St John Paul II

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of St John Paul II's visit to Alice Springs in November 1986, Pope Francis has issued a letter to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


Since the inception of this Ministry in June 2010, the ATSICM has continuously focused its efforts towards building and supporting a stronger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic community within the Diocese.

This has been achieved through various events and activities organised by its members, who come from different parishes within the Diocese of Broken Bay. The committee meets regularly in the Central Coast.

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) National Assembly

‘The Heart of Jesus beats within us all’ (2-6 July 2015, Darwin)

The NATSICC National Assembly attracts participants from a diverse range of backgrounds. The gathering is an opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (and those working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) to come together and discuss faith, culture and spirituality in contemporary Australia. This year’s theme is ‘The Heart of Jesus beats within us all’, which calls for us to look within ourselves and work together as a strong, faith based people.

Julieann Coombes, Chair of DBB’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Ministry Committee, attended the Assembly and reported that the event ran smoothly, with a larger than expected number of attendees.

Charlie King (OAM), Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann (AM) and Vicki Clark were the keynote speakers. They shared their personal stories of growth in the Catholic Church and spoke on the importance of enculturation and the need for a culturally appropriate liturgy.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from St Martin de Porres Church gathered with delegates to celebrate Sunday Mass. Everyone joined together as the smoking ceremony welcomed participants and singing echoed through the building, accompanied by music from members of the local community.
The Broken Bay Diocese proudly displayed a newly acquired banner in amongst the many from around Australia.

Aboriginal Catholic students were invited to come along and share the unique aspects of their faith, culture and spirituality. DBB was well represented by three students from Central Coast Catholic Schools, Kiesha Bovill, Shana Leonard and Tiarna Baker; the girls were accompanied by Dave Ella, Aboriginal Education Consultant for DBB, and Donna Sutton, Aboriginal Education Worker for DBB.

The students attended the youth workshop and other presentations with the main Assembly, and were able to share with Elders and role models from all over Australia. In their free time they took in the beauty of the Northern Territory. All in all, Julieann found the Assembly enlightening and extremely motivating and feels that Committee members are ready to start the next chapter of the Diocese’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Ministry.


Singing Up Country - Frenchs Forest  Parish

“Congratulations! It was deadly! What a great night! Joyous and solemn all at the same time! Wonderfully organized. What talent!”
These are some of the comments about the first ever Singing Up Country Concert held at St Anthony in the Field, Terrey Hills on Sunday evening, 31 May 2015.

Frenchs Forest parishioners and visitors from all over were treated to a truly inspirational evening of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal voices celebrating Aboriginal languages. The Smoking Ceremony prepared us as we entered the church with the sun setting in the west. The campfire pointed us to our gathering. Neil Evers (descendant of Bungaree) welcomed us to Country.

“Singing Up Country” was a community event aimed at building on the long-held “Sharing the Story, Sharing the Land” relationship with the parish community. The concert program was put together by Michael Birk, with Graham Merrit as MC. As well as Michael there were singer/guitarist Corey Kirk and Bangali, singer Haley McAulie, the Gerard McMinn dance group, singer/pianist Nick Paton and singer/guitarist Johnny Nicol.

Well known jazz pianist Kevin Hunt came to watch and ended up playing.

Interval was a time for keeping warm on the delicious soups prepared by members of the Social Justice Group and for visiting the community resource table. This included information about “RECOGNISE” on the need and desire for recognition of Aboriginal peoples in the Australian Constitution. (www.recognise.org.au)

The performances highlighted the importance of identity and knowing our shared history. Theypaidspecial attention and respect to local and surrounding Aboriginal Languages, land andcommunity. There were so many highlights but probably the greatest was “Ngaya Wugal” (We are Australian) sung in Dharug.

The local Indigenous Australian community on the Northern Beaches is a diverse group and includes descendants of the original inhabitants of the area as well as from all over Australia. The connection between them and our church community is important from a spiritual perspective. The Holy Spirit is present among us in a special way when we connect with the deep spiritual connection to Country with which our Aboriginal brothers and sisters gift us and for which we are all searching in our own way. We look forward to more “Singing up Country” performances.

Thanks to all those who were part of this amazing evening, especially to the wonderful Social Justice team and to the Yeagl family, Michael, Jessica and Lois Birk who made it happen.

Anne Lanyon
ATSICM Committee Member

Social Justice Dinner at St Ives with Guest Speaker David Ella

Mr David Ella, Aboriginal Education Consultant for the Diocese of Broken Bay, was guest speaker at a dinner held at St Ives on 11th November 2014, organised by the St Ives Social Justice group. Over fifty parishioners and friends gathered for the dinner, which was also supported by Ms Anne Lanyon from the Columban Mission Institute.

Following an Acknowledgement of Country by Juliann Coombes (Chair, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Catholic Ministry, Diocese of Broken Bay), guests listened to a presentation by David Ella, who over the past 30 years has worked to help improve education outcomes for Aboriginal students. Participants were saddened to learn that only one out of every 100 Aboriginal children completes Year 12, so whilst good progress has been made, much more still needs to be done. One local goal which was discussed was to assist bringing children into primary Catholic education and helping them continue into secondary school. There was a genuine interest in wanting to learn more, and offer support towards this goal in coming years.

David Ella also spoke about life issues growing up as an indigenous person; and of refusal of service even in recent years to local indigenous people. Whilst David’s response was conciliatory, participants did feel some anger and frustration in learning about this issue.

David’s contribution was very much appreciated by all, and he received a standing ovation. The evening was an opportunity to look at positive action, with some donations reserved to assist the development of leadership amongst young Aborigines; and new contacts made with the Biala Hostel for Aboriginal secondary school-aged girls.

Coming Together as One Family (October 2013 BBN) [PDF/300kb]


For further information, please contact:

Ken Ralph
Chairperson, ATSICM Steering Committee
Ph: 4341 9686
Mobile: 0439 419 641
Email: ken.ralph@bigpond.com 


Catholic Diocese of
Broken Bay

Building 2, 423 Pennant Hills Road
Pennant Hills NSW 2120

PO Box 340
Pennant Hills NSW 1715

Phone 02 9847 0000
Fax 02 9847 0001

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