Rev Angie Griffin is one of the Panel Members of the Being a Multicultural Circle. We asked Angie to tell us about herself.
My full name is Rev Angelina Carmela ‘Angie’ Griffin
I am currently in full time placement as Minister for the Grange Cluster congregations in the Henty Region of the Presbytery of Western Victoria. Congregations are Hamilton, Cavendish, Penshurst, Dunkeld, Glenthompson and communities of Panyyabyr and Mirranatwa
I preach at 2 sometimes 3 sites most Sundays, with 5th Sundays being an ‘off duty’ day. I am grateful for the Lay Preacher lead and Ecumenical services that are held especially in the smaller congregations.
Rural Australians for Refugees have very active groups based in Hamilton and Dunkeld.
The Hamilton group meets in the Uniting Church.
The groups consist of Church members from different denominations and community based people, all who share a common desire to create ‘welcoming communities for refugees and asylum seekers’.
Hamilton has 4-5 families from Burundi and Congolese backgrounds.
There are also residents who have lived in Hamilton for a year and longer from Philippines, Iran, Thailand, Indian and Japan.
Although not initiatives of the Church, some congregation members and I are part of a regular ‘Language Café’ initiative which enables people of non-English-speaking background to socialise with English speaking locals in ‘conversational’ English and to build relationships.
There is a group which holds English classes for Migrants.
The local Hamilton and Alexandra College have just begun an after school ‘homework mentoring’ program where senior students assist non-English speaking primary school age students.
I was born in Mt Lawley Western Australia and raised in Albany WA to an Italian father from a village Bianzone outside of Milan and a Sicilian mother from a village Sinagra in the province of Messina.
My father came to Australia in 1943, assisted by an older brother and settled down to work in Mullewa, WA.
My mother arrived 1950 with her mother and two brothers and settled into Wanneroo, Perth WA where there were others from their extended family and region of Sicily.
Why I am passionate about this Circle:
My first language is Italian as this was the native tongue of my parents at home.
Whilst my father worked out of home, my mother was a homemaker and knew very little English.
When I started at the local Catholic School run by Josephite nuns, I had to learn English.
My mother eventually worked out of home as a ‘domestic’ in the local Hospital, together with many other post war migrant European women who also knew only a little English. By this time I was about nine years old.
Both parents were working class people with low incomes. With limited English but a passion for a ‘bargain’ I was often recruited as the ‘interpreter’ when my mother had to attend to shopping for goods and ‘bargaining’ for the best price.
I saw how hard they worked and struggled so that their only child could have a chance in life that they never had.
This was at a time when migrants such as my parents had to fend for themselves in a strange land – no welfare benefits, no English classes.
As a ‘red headed’ Italian (my father being a northerner) I escaped the racist taunts that my school friend received as she looked more Italian than me.
With these experiences I feel I have some sense of what it is like for migrants in this land. I know the wondrous diversity that has added so much to the life we live here in Australia. I have learned so much and had my own life enhanced by knowing people from other lands and hearing their stories and working alongside them – let alone how such diversity enhances the life of worship in a faith community and adds to the overall ‘expansive’ knowledge of the God we worship.
One hope I have for the Circle is to share stories and therefore examples of how the Church is indeed a ‘multicultural/cross cultural Church’ and is therefore being enhanced and changed by the cross-fertilisation with different ideas and ways of being ‘church/community’.