Pilgrimage to Wontulp-Bi-Buya (WBB) College

Reflections

As part of our anglican focus series on Reconciliation Action Plan implementation, The Rev’d Jazz Dow reflects on how St Francis College is strengthening relationship with Wontulp-Bi-Buya (WBB) College in Cairns, including the rich benefits of St Francis College students making a pilgrimage to WBB and experiencing what Torres Strait Islanders call ‘Good Pasin’

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“One of the things that has become an important part of our culture in the Torres Strait Islands is the notion of ‘Good Pasin’*. Good Pasin is about welcoming someone into our community. It is to open up our community to a person who is a stranger to us. Good Pasin extends to more than just a welcoming, it is to invite the person to come into our homes, invite the person into our community and culture. To invite the person to come and sit at the table where we eat…to be a part of our cultural celebrations…showing that despite the injustice, that despite the trauma of not having ownership of land, or the island that we come from, the trauma of seeing our seas being polluted, we’re still welcoming the stranger to our communities…still showing compassion.” (The Rev’d Victor Joseph, Principal, Wontulp-Bi-Buya College at the Abundant Justice Conference 2018)

At the Abundant Justice Conference in July 2018, The Rev’d Victor Joseph, Principal of Wontulp-Bi-Buya College, said Indigenous communities don’t need colonial missionaries sent from the church – the church in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is growing and it is these churches that will be missionaries to the Anglican Church of Australia. The Anglican Church has a lot to learn from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander churches, cultures, practices, wisdom and customs, and the above quote from Victor Joseph makes this abundantly clear.

St Francis College is committed to listening to and learning from the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly through theological education partnerships. With the assistance of the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM), St Francis College is strengthening a partnership with Wontulp-Bi-Buya College (WBB).

The mission of Wontulp-Bi-Buya College is to support the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander church and community leaders through study programs leading to awards in theology, suicide prevention, addictions management and community development. Students travel to Cairns from communities around Australia for two-week intensive blocks throughout the year.

In 2017, one of our theology students, Juliana Bate, attended an ABM pilgrimage to WBB in order to:

This pilgrimage, as part of St Francis’ ongoing relationship building with Wontulp-Bi-Buya College, helps to uphold the Diocese Reconciliation Action Plan’s goals to partner with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations for a specific initiative and to foster understanding and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories.

This pilgrimage will be taking place again in 2019 and it is our intention at St Francis College to send more students. We are also hoping to develop an opportunity for students from Wontulp-Bi-Buya College to visit St Francis College. These opportunities allow for increased cultural awareness, cross-cultural theological collaboration, relationship building, and the breaking down of generalisations and stereotypes that are often used to label and exclude.

The pilgrimage to Wontulp-Bi-Buya College is open to all young church leaders, both present and emerging. Please email The Rev’d Jazz Dow, Mission Chaplain, St Francis College for more information.

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