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Monday, 04 December 2017 16:40

New SVD centre in 'Alice' a commitment to the future

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Alice House blessing 150The Divine Word Missionaries have confirmed their deep commitment to mission in Central Australia by purchasing a property in Alice Springs which will not only be a dwelling for confreres and visitors, but a house of spirituality and Indigenous theology for the whole community.

The house, named the Logos Spirituality Centre, was blessed by the SVD Superior General, Fr Heinz Kuluke, during his visit to the red centre last month in the presence of local community members and other Religious working in Alice Springs.

Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish in Alice Springs, Fr Asaeli Raass SVD, says the name Logos, a Greek word, is meaningful for the Divine Word Missionaries, being taken from the Prologue of St John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God”.

“Our local Aboriginal elders are also working on suitable words from the Arrernte language which we can incorporate into a description of the Centre,” Fr Raass says.
The blessing of the house began with a welcome from the Arrernte elders, which was included in a traditional smoking ceremony.

“They smoked the whole house, which was a sign of strengthening and healing for the people who will dwell there and visit there,” he says.

“That was followed by a small liturgy, during which Fr Heinz blessed the house, and then there was a celebration and dinner.

“During that celebration, Fr Heinz made a speech about our mission in Central Australia and he thanked the local people for their support of our missionaries.”

Fr Raass says the decision by the Province to invest in the house is a commitment to the future.

“We see the Logos Spirituality Centre as a sign to the local community that we’re here for the long haul,” he says.

“This also acknowledges that this is not an easy mission for anyone, lay or clergy, and that the local people, especially the Aboriginal people, do suffer and they carry a lot.

“So we’re just saying, we’re here and we’re holding these things gently and we’ll see where God leads us.”

Fr Raass says that during the blessing of the Centre, he spoke of how the SVDs are building on the wisdom and strength of previous missionaries to the region, in particular the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.

He also acknowledged Fr Jim Knight SVD who has been a wonderful presence in Central Australia for many years and has a special interest in promoting Indigenous Theology.

“Fr Jim has very much been part of the dreaming for this place, so that it would be not just a place, but a place for mission,” he says.

Provincial, Fr Henry Adler SVD, says the opening and blessing of the Centre is a significant event in the life of the Province.

He says that apart from being a place for spirituality, for gathering, for rest and retreats, the Logos Spirituality Centre will also have a library specialising in Indigenous Theology.

“It signals our commitment to the mission in Central Australia, and our desire to go deeper into a relationship with the local people and to engage with them in a conversation and a spiritual and theological experience that will hopefully deepen the understanding of God as the indigenous people understand God,” he says.

This story was first published in the Divine Word Missionaries' eNews, In the Word.

Photo by: Patricia Radeker