Society Matters | Volume 34 No. 1 | Autumn 2024

Volume 34 No. 1 | Autumn 2024 6 Society Matters SVD takes up ministry in Daly River and Balgo The Divine Word Missionaries have taken up the pastoral care of communities in Daly River in the Northern Territory and Balgo in Western Australia’s remote Kimberley region, in a move which further demonstrates the SVD’s commitment to ministry with indigenous peoples. Two SVD priests were installed by Darwin Bishop Charles Gauci in December at Daly River, while another arrived at Balgo. He will be joined by a second priest in the New Year. Daly River, or Nauiyu, is situated 230km south of Darwin and 250km north-west of Katherine. Provincial, Fr Asaeli Rass SVD, said that despite the challenges of working in remote communities, he is excited about the new ministries. “The great thing is that we are not starting from scratch,” he said. “In Daly River, we are building on the legacies of the Jesuits who were there since 1882, as well as the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Malak Malak people themselves. “We know it’s not going to be easy, and there are ongoing social issues in the community, but we will be working together with the people and with Bishop Charles and the Diocese of Darwin, the Catholic school principal and civil leaders of the community. “We are going in hoping to work synodally, using that way of co-responsibility, out of respect for what has taken place there already and working with the people to effect change in their own lives.” The two priests appointed to Daly River are both from Indonesia. Fr Daniel Polla SVD and Fr Rius Baku Salu SVD have prepared for their new assignment by undertaking interculturality programs both with the SVD and the Diocese of Darwin. Fr Rass said part of their job would be not just to concentrate on the spiritual sphere, but also to work on the social and material aspects of their lives. “I have asked them simply to get to know the people, respect them and love the people, whatever is happening,” he said. “You just have to open your eyes to see the many blessings of this community. The elders know all about their cultural history and spirituality and our job is to listen and learn. “I’m excited about it. I’ve got a strong feeling that this is where the Holy Spirit is calling us to assist at this time.” Fr Daniel was installed as parish priest at St Francis Xavier Parish Daly River on December 10, along with assistant priest Rius Baku Salu in a Mass celebrated by Bishop Charles. Fr Daniel comes from West Timor, Indonesia, and spent many years of mission in Paraguay. “I believe that in Daly River, l will do my best, in consideration of Bishop Charles’ words to try, bit by bit, to gain the trust of the people, be patient with them and work with them,” he said. “Working with Aboriginal people is a first experience for me, so l can’t have high expectations, except to say that l believe in this mission that Jesus has begun for me, so I can invite more people to know His way.” Fr Rius, who was ordained in his home country of Indonesia three years ago, said he and Fr Daniel have received a warm welcome from the Daly River community and he is looking forward to what lies ahead. Fr Paulo Vatunitu SVD is welcomed to Balgo with a smoking ceremony Fr Daniel Polla and Fr R