By Matthew Lau
A WA-based Josephite Sister ran an introductory healing workshop during NATSICC Assembly Week to help participants re-engage in the fullness of life after dealing with grief and loss.
Sister Alma Cabassi RSJ belongs to the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart order in Halls Creek, Diocese of Broome.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Council (NATSICC) is the peak advisory body to the Australian Catholic Bishops on issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholics.
She conducted her “Seasons for Healing” workshop on the second day of the assembly week at the Technology Park Function Centre in Perth on Tuesday 2 October, with the help of Sr Tina Kapelli RSJ.
Sr Alma holds the role of Diocesan Family Support and Pastoral Care worker and is a Regional Councillor for the CentreWest Region of the Congregation.
Seasons for Healing is a culturally appropriate small group education programme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults who are managing experiences of change, loss, and grief.
In an exclusive interview with The eRecord, Sr Alma said she appreciates the cultural way Aboriginal people handle loss.
“There’s something about sharing their stories, and there’s something about learning and understanding that allows people to learn and reflect on their own life experiences in a safe and familiar context,” she added.
“I know with the Aboriginal culture, there are many more seasons than four. But because of the principles behind the grief process, there are four key areas.”
Collaborative support is used to gauge the impact of intergenerational loss, which, Sr Alma said, fits in well with the Stolen Generations.
“Autumn is the ‘letting go’, acknowledgment that there has been a loss.
“Winter is the actual attending to the grief, sharing your story and listening to others’ story – wintertime is the internal time where you sit and be within.
“Springtime is where you start to learn some skills to move forward, it doesn’t happen as easy as that, but you still learn the four seasons.
“Summer is when the grief is less in your life and you can live more fully.”
Just like any season in a year, some can be longer than others and some can be shorter.
“It is an education program, not a therapy. In knowing and learning, there is some release and relief in that.
“And so it’s really that any change, it doesn’t even have to be a loss, brings good things. Grief comes with the loss.”
Sr Alma said the workshop is provided for people from all walks of life, regardless of their religion or culture.
“Forgiveness is part of it. To heal any grief, there needs to be a forgiveness component to it. It’s not forgiving and forgetting, but it’s being able to forgive the person or the situation that’s created the pain for you, and then it’s easier to move on.
“So that fits in very closely with the Catholic teaching of Jesus to forgive,” she concluded.