The ACM premises at 77 Buckland Street, Alexandria has been associated with an Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in various forms since 1974 when Fr A. Mithen, a Pallotine Priest was appointed the first full time chaplain to the Aboriginal People of Sydney, by Cardinal Freeman. Fr. Mithen established an office and Hospitality Centre at Buckland Street. In 1980, Fr Eugene Stockton succeeded Fr. Mithen. During the nineteen eighties, this house evolved into a hostel, called Dundara, which provided accommodation to Aboriginal People from the country who came to Sydney for medical treatment. In 1988, the ACM moved to a small room in the presbytery at St Mary’s Parish Erskineville under the guidance of Fr. Frank Fletcher MSC. Fr. Frank was soon joined by Barbra Asplet and Elsie Heiss, who went on to play significant roles within the ACM. Over time, the ACM received funding from the diocese and the MSC Order. Following the move to 56 Swanson Street Erskineville, assistance from the Archdiocese increased substantially. In 2001, the ACM moved back into the house at 77 Buckland Street with Brenda McDonnell as Coordinator. For the next ten years under Brenda’s guidance, the ACM at Alexandria developed programs which particularly addressed welfare needs as well as pastoral needs of Aboriginal people.
In 2010, the Archdiocese of Sydney commenced a restructure of the Aboriginal Catholic Ministry to ensure a long-term and sustainable future. The restructure was in response to Aboriginal people’s developing needs and was undertaken to ensure greater support for the ministry. Graeme Mundine was appointed Executive Officer of the new structure and took up his position in 2011 and is based at Buckland Street.
The ACM is now developing new programs to meet the needs of Aboriginal Catholics in the Sydney Archdiocese. The Alexandria office is the base for both ministry and resource development. We provide pastoral services such as the Sacramental program, as well as being a point of contact for schools, parishes and other groups to engage Aboriginal speakers and obtain advice on issues pertaining to Aboriginal peoples, cultures and issues.
The ACM also produces relevant resources which help promote greater understanding and respect for the cultures and spiritualities of Aboriginal peoples, including prayer material. We produce resources which help educate people about Indigenous social justice issues and provide the community with the information needed to take effective action on these issues.
There is a meeting room at Buckland Street which we use for workshops, meetings and other purposes. We can make this available to relevant community groups or for educational purposes.
It is important to let people around the world know that there was a religion of spirituality in Australia before we were colonised by white people.
Richard Campbell, Artist