Compassionate Hearts Ignited in Santa Teresa

Mt Maria students with Sister Liz Wiemers from the Santa Teresa Parish (L-R) Sister Liz Wiemers, Bella Rose, Zara Grlj, Will Bryant, Lily Moffat, Mrs Alia White, Sara Cree, Xander Hodgkins, Rafferty Turrell and Julia Heinemann. 

Senior students from Mt Maria College at Mitchelton recently ventured to Santa Teresa, a community situated about a ninety-minute drive southeast of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory, to participate in an Indigenous immersion program.

The students were educated and mentored by Sister Liz Wiemers, a member of the Santa Teresa Parish who has lived in the community for many years and is trusted and respected by the local Indigenous people. Sister Liz inspired the students as she passionately articulated the issues facing Indigenous people and expressed the hope that young people who experience immersion could become advocates for them.

The students volunteered their time in Santa Teresa to assist a range of organisations serving to support the local community. The students worked together to construct a carport with the ‘Men’s Shed’ and volunteered in a range of local contexts, including the Creche, the Community Centre, and the Spirituality Centre.

Year 12 student Rafferty Turrell said that the immersion was a once in a lifetime opportunity for her, with experiences you could never pay for as a tourist.

“A highlight of mine was the night under the stars as we got to climb up a big rock formation with amazing views, eat kangaroo, be in the bush surrounded by red dirt, eat damper, sit in front of the stars and be immersed in the sacred land,” she said.

Year 11 student, Sara Cree, agreed that the trip was an experience that she would never forget.

“I fully encourage any students that are looking to find meaning and more to life to go on this immersion,” Sara said.

Mt Maria Acting Principal, Mr Frank McCullagh, who accompanied the students on the immersion, said that while the trip had many memorable moments a highpoint occurred while gathered around an outback campfire.

“Under a star sparkling clear sky, Sister Liz gave the most wonderful affirmations to our students, words which they will never forget,” Mr McCullagh said.

“Her concluding statement, ‘It is very clear that wonderful things are happening at Mt Maria’ resonated with us all.’’