By Theresia Titus
Kopel Gibuma has become the first Torres Strait Islander to be ordained to the Diaconate in the Catholic Church.
The ordination was celebrated by Cairns Bishop James Foley, together with Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of our Lady of the Southern Cross, Monsignor Harry Entwistle and took place at St Francis Xavier Church, West Cairns Parish on 9 June.
It has been a monumental occasion for the now, Deacon Gibuma.
“I was really glad and it was a historical moment for me, and maybe for the people of Torres Strait Islander,” Deacon Gibuma said.
“It was a spiritual moment for me, going back to the main root of faith, becoming one with the Catholic and Apostolic Church,” he said.
At the commencement of the celebration, Deacon Gibuma was brought to the entrance of the Church by fellow Islanders, accompanied by singing, guitars and the sound of traditional drums to follow Torres Strait Island tradition.
The Gospel was proclaimed by Deacon Ralph Madigan, the first permanent deacon of Aboriginal descent ordained in the Diocese of Cairns.
Following the service, the newly ordained deacon was greeted by traditional singing and dancing from Torres Strait Islander singers and musicians.
Born into an Anglican family, Deacon Gibuma joined the Melanesian Brotherhood – an Anglican Mission Society based in the Solomon Islands.
He was then based on an Aboriginal settlement for two years before he permanmently settled on Torres Strait Island.
Deacon Gibuma said his family were very pleased for him.
“They were very happy for me to join, it’s historical for my family to have me become the forerunner for the people of Torres Strait Island,” he said.