SPONSORED BY CATHOLIC FOUNDATION FOR THE ARCHDIOCESE OF BRISBANE
JOSEPHITE Sister Kay McPadden has walked with local Aboriginal people for most of her religious life.
Recounting one unforgettable story, Sr Kay can sum up the joy of working for Murri Ministry – a Centacare Pastoral Ministry that services about 7000 Murri people in the Archdiocese of Brisbane.
“Two sisters came to the Murri Ministry Centre one day. I’d known them since they were little girls. They were poor as church mice,” she said.
“They came looking for some help to bury an in-law – it was a young relative that they needed to bring back from Sydney – not even their own blood.
“Nonetheless, these two young women who had nothing to give felt it was their duty to take responsibility and give that person a proper burial.
“I was really proud of them, proud that they had grown up poor but they knew the right thing to do, and they’d come here looking for help to do this Godly thing.
“And I felt so happy to be able to share our Catholic resources with them, and assist them with the simple things – filling out forms, making calls, pointing them in the direction of possible sources of funding, and sending emails on their behalf.”
While Murri Ministry caters for Aboriginal people and seeks to strengthen Aboriginal culture in many ways, such as tours and school excursions to Cherbourg Barambah Aboriginal Community, workshops in schools, assisting Aboriginal students with their identity, and participating in cross-cultural service days, the major work of the ministry is funerals.
The driving force behind Murri Ministry is Ravina Waldren who says that they are now doing up to eight funerals a week.
“We do a lot of funerals here. Our services go all the way out to Cherbourg, Murgon, down to the Gold Coast, across to Stradbroke and here in Brisbane,” she said.
Ravina says that it was not unusual to have 300 people come to pay respects to the deceased.
More than 1000 people have attended the funerals of well-respected Elders.
“It’s a lot of grief for our families, because they are not just dealing with one funeral, some of our mob are burying three family members in a month. Our mob doesn’t have time to heal before there’s another funeral,” she said.
Murri Ministry assists families with the simple tasks that can seem overwhelming during a time of grief.
They print the booklets, provide tea, coffee, foam cups, sugar and milk for the hundreds that attend the wake, help families to arrange a Church or a community hall for the service, and finalise the funeral arrangements, but Ravina’s commitment doesn’t stop there.
With the help of others in the community sometimes she will cook meals for the family.
“We’re called to serve, and if we can help our mob out then we do that,” Ravina said.
Like all of Centacare’s Pastoral Ministries, Murri Ministry relies on donations. Gifts given to the Annual Catholic Campaign, held September 10-11 in parishes across the Archdiocese of Brisbane, will make a significant difference to the people and families who benefit from Centacare’s Pastoral Ministries, the Holy Spirit Seminary, the Priests Foundation and the Mary MacKillop Brisbane Catholic School Access Fund.