Pilgrims on the first Top End Encounters pilgrimage, August 2022
For Grace deZilva from Narrabundah in the ACT, the Top End Encounters journey through Darwin, Kakadu and the Tiwi Islands was enlightening and enriching. Read here her refreshing account and view her album of photos…
This pilgrimage is a true 360-degree encounter with the history and power of the Catholic faith in the Top End. I was visually and spiritually touched each day by the sites we visited. It was an absolute privilege being able to witness the joy, resilience, hope and growth the Catholic faith has brought to the local communities. The great ministries different religious orders (MSC, MGL, Sisters of Mother Teresa, Sr Anne Gardiner on the Tiwi Islands) administer to the locals, especially to remote and isolated indigenous communities, are so inspiring and uplifting. Thanks to the wonderful local knowledge of our chaplain, Fr Dan Benedetti, I was able to appreciate more fully the historical, cultural and spiritual significance of some of the sites. To have daily Masses celebrated with the local communities and missionaries was a rare and blessed experience to see their faith in context and in action.
Fr Dan was well versed in the local indigenous culture and faith history, and also well connected with different religious orders in the NT. He organised ‘cameo’ appearances of missionaries/sisters at our daily masses enabling us to interact with them and gain a deep appreciation of their ministries and challenges in remote communities. Fr Dan also introduced to us significant elders in indigenous communities along the way. One pilgrim commented that she would go on the Top End Encounters Pilgrimage just for a mass at the St Martin de Porres Community.
Our coach driver and guide with a great personality and remarkable knowledge of the indigenous rock art and way of life and many other things along the pilgrimage route.
The short flight from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands was such a unique and surprisingly enjoyable experience, complemented by the ferry back.
The Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel is an absolute delight, architecturally, culturally and gastronomically, with the bonus of a nice outdoor pool. I think it’s the best hotel we stayed at on this pilgrimage.
This pilgrimage left me in great awe and admiration of the goodness of our God towards all His creation in every corner of His land.