Missionary light shines in the Tiwi Islands


Bottom Left: Fr Niran Veigas SVD (back right) and Fr Hung Nguyen SVD with students from the local school.

The SVDs has accomplished one year in the Tiwi Islands in Australia. The Tiwi Islands is a remote and culturally significant region in Australia's Northern Territory. Among the prominent communities on the islands, Wurrumiyanga stands out as a place where Catholicism has deep influence in the lives of the local Tiwi people.

In the early 1900s, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) established a mission station on Bathurst Island, which later became known as Wurrumiyanga. The MSC missionaries worked tirelessly to build a strong bond with the Tiwi community, learning the local language and customs to better connect with the islanders. The long-time legacy of the MSCs came to an end last year, and they handed over the mission to the Divine Word Missionaries who are completing a year with their presence at Tiwi Islands.

“During this year, it has been a time of reflection, understanding, walking along, appreciating the culture, being with the people in sorrow, and, above all, making the Tiwi people know that we are with them.”, they say.

The theme of the upcoming General Chapter has made them more aware of their mission in that corner of the world.

“True to our Chapter’s theme, we are trying to become the ‘Light of Christ’ to our people on this island. Many funerals and sorrowful events have made us aware that these people are emotional, mourning the death of their loved ones. It is not only the family that becomes sad, but the whole community comes together to express sorrow. The challenges we face as missionaries teach us how to be the 'Light of Christ’ amidst the darkness.”, they affirm.

They are one with the local people, and they feel fully part of the community. They love the people and feel loved by them as well. “These little positive moments have made us realize that people love us, and they have deeper respect for the missionaries. As we reflect on the 19th General Chapter and being with the First Nations people, we feel that we must be able to share the light of compassion, sympathy, appreciation, and, above all, a deep respect for the local culture and tradition. We are being called to become that light, the light of Christ in our mission”, they say.

Source: From the text of Fr. Fr Niran Veigas SVD.

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 Right: Bishop Charles Gauci and parishioners at Mass at Wurrumiyanga - Bathurst Island.