On 17 April 1816, there was a massacre of Dharawal people near Appin. For over a decade now, the Winga Myamly (sit down and talk - Wiradjuri language) Reconciliation Group, which works towards Reconciliation by raising awareness of issues and promoting a partnership to bring about change for Indigenous people, has organised this Memorial Ceremony held on the Sunday afternoon closest to 17 April.
The Ceremony commenced with Traditional Performers Glen and Matthew Doyle. Present were 200 people including Dharawal descendants, Aboriginal Elders, young Aboriginal people from Coomaditchie Mission, Clr Colin Mitchell (Mayor of Wollondilly Shire); Hon Brian Doyle (MLA Campbelltown); Clr Greg Warren (Camden Council); Clr George Greiss (Deputy Mayor Campbelltown City); NSW Regional Ambassador for Reconciliation Colin Markham; Fr Tony Daly (Chaplain to the Aboriginal Ministry); Sr Kerry Macdermott OLN and Sr Patricia Murphy OLN; and Bishop Peter Ingham. The gathering took place at Cataract Dam where a Memorial Plaque has been erected. The Welcome to Country was given by Glenda Chalker, Dharawal descendant, and Uncle Ivan Wellington was Master of Ceremonies and also performed a Smoking Ceremony.
Each of the Official Guests delivered a message. Below is Bishop Ingham’s message on the occasion:
"I acknowledge the Dharawal people and ancestors past and present.
The Catholic Church has been and is celebrating a Year of Grace and a Year of Faith.
Grace is a gift of God that should enable us to be gracious to each other because God has first been gracious to us in sending his Son as our Saviour. Jesus Christ taught us to respect the dignity of each and every person, because all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). Jesus taught us “to treat each other as we ourselves would like to be treated” (Matthew 7:12). We know how we like to be treated – so that’s the way we are to treat each other.
We gather here today in sorrow, because of a most serious breach of that basic Christian teaching of respect for the dignity of every human being of any race or culture by the massacre of Indigenous people near Appin NSW. We come in reparation for the injustice done, but aware of how Jesus on the Cross prayed for his executioners, “Father forgive them they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24). We commend to God the victims of this Appin Massacre and we pray for forgiveness for the perpetrators and we pray for a change of heart among all people – a change of heart that will lead to recognition of our Indigenous brothers and sisters with whom we all share the same humanity and a change of heart that will lead to deeper reconciliation for the common good of all Australians.
As regards the Year of Faith, I would simply say, faith is a bit like electricity – you can’t see it, but you can see the light that faith produces in the lives of people who believe!
We gather here today enlightened so as to be able to be agents of recognition and of reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters.
I thank you for being here. I thank the organisers and all participants as we show our respect and solidarity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters.”
At the end of the Ceremony, participants were invited to afternoon tea.