Society Matters | Volume 34 No. 1 | Autumn 2024

7 Volume 34 No. 1 | Autumn 2024 Society Matters “There are two things that adorn my heart and mind about this new mission and first assignment, namely the trust I have gained and the responsibilities that need to be fulfilled,” he said. “From these things, two human feelings were born, which are of course closely linked to this mission journey – happiness and anxiety. However, we always have hope, and, I hope that with God’s presence, something good will be born in this new mission journey.” In a Facebook post announcing the installation of the two SVD priests at Daly River, Bishop Charles thanked them for their “generosity in accepting this call”. “God bless you! Let’s keep them in our prayers,” he said. Meanwhile, in Balgo, in the Broome Diocese, Fr Paulo Vanuitu SVD has arrived to take up the pastoral care of the parish and he will soon by joined by Fr Ronaldo Rodriguez SVD. Following a recent visit to Balgo, Fr Rass said the community has long captured the interest and imagination of both missionaries and tourists because of the beauty of the land. “It’s almost a spiritual exercise just to be there in the desert, with a sky full of bright stars. It’s a different world and a wonderful experience,” he said. “But there is also a harshness and of course, the remoteness.” The Balgo mission was started by the Pallotine German missionaries in 1939 and has, over the years, been home to the Jesuits, St John of God Sisters, Sisters of Mercy and Lasallian Brothers. Along with the parish, there is a Catholic bilingual school. Linked with both the Great Sandy Desert and the Tanami Desert, the 2021 census recorded Balgo’s population as 430. Balgo is a multicultural community of Aboriginal peoples, with seven other language groups besides the main language Kukatja represented. There are: Ngardi, Djaru, Warlpiri, Walmajarri, Wangkajunga, Pintupi and Ngaatjatjarra residents. Fr Rass said that when he arrived with Fr Paulo and an SVD seminarian, the welcome was memorable. “It was one of the warmest welcomes we’ve ever received,” he said. “There was a smoking ceremony and big smiles. It was really heartwarming.” Fr Paulo said he has been busy since his arrival getting out to the meet the people in the various parts of the wide-spread parish. “I’ve just come back from one of the out-stations which is 300km away,” he said. There are six outstations, all with schools. Fr Paulo, who hails from Fiji and has previously served the SVD in the Philippines, said he is looking forward to getting to know the people. “I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s been an interesting experience from Day One. I’ve enjoyed meeting the elders, seeing the school and some of the important parts of the cultural landscape. I’ve certainly received a warm welcome. It’s been good.” Parishioners entering St Theresa’s church in Balgo Photo: Diocese of Darwin Rius Salu with Bp Charles Gauci and Daly River parishioners