The Divine Word Missionaries, a Catholic missionary religious congregation need help to purchase a small campervan that would allow missionaries in Central Australia to minister to and stay with outlying Aboriginal communities for longer periods. This fundraising page has been created by the Lay Partners of the Divine Word for the purposes stated.

At the moment, the missionaries drive hundreds of kilometres to be with the people in those communities, but often, after celebrating Mass or other sacraments, they have to turn around and make the long drive back to Alice Springs.

“It is really important to be with the people and spend time with them, getting to know them and their culture and their way of life. Even for things like the sacramental program, we need to spend time and prepare them for the sacraments. We have about 12 Aboriginal communities outside of Alice Springs and they don’t have a place for us to stay, so having the campervan means we could go and really spend time with the people, instead of just coming and going,” says Fr Olivier Noclam SVD, of the Aboriginal Catholic Chaplaincy in Central Australia.

We also find that the main time the people pray together in the community is when the priest is there and so we want to provide those opportunities for them to come together and pray.

The campervan proposal will also assist a new initiative for Central Australia, a collaboration with Catholic Mission, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council, the Divine Word Missionaries, and Darwin Diocese, to have a lay prayer leader or catechist in these outlying communities, as authorised recently by Pope Francis. Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Alice Springs, Fr Prakash Menezes SVD says the campervan would provide a new way of being with the people in the far reaches of the vast parish.

“Our parish covers about 600km in diameter. In the north, we are almost bordering Tennant Creek; to the south, we go to Uluru; almost to the Queensland border in the east, and the WA border in the west. The community of Yuendumu is about 300km away and Harts Range is 250km away in the other direction. While the SVD has so far been based around Central Australia, the Bishop (of Darwin) is asking us to slowly move further north because there are more and more Catholics in the communities up there who we now visit, together with the Missionaries of Charity Sisters. Ideally, the priest will be able to stay a week or two in the communities, whereas the most we can do at the moment is to stay overnight and then come back. It means a lot of driving.”

Fr Prakash is hopeful that the campervan will allow them to extend their remote outreach even further.

The Divine Word Missionaries wish to thank you all for your generosity.

 A humble reminder that this will be a non-tax deductible donation due to government regulations towards pastoral works.