The land is full of the words of the sacred.
This simple yet profound sentence sums up much of the driving force in the creative growth and direction taken by the life of Augustinian and poet, Rod Cameron O.S.A., during the fifty five years before his death in 2009.
To be successful writer of books of poetry in Australia is uncommon, to have sold over 6,000 copies of books of poetry is more rare again, and to have done so with poems on Aboriginal themes is quite unique.
Rod Cameron O.S.A. has achieved all of these distinctions.
Born in Australia and a member of the Australian Province, Rod was professed in 1942. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1950 in the United States. It was there that he was sent to study philosophy and theology, and also obtained two postgraduate degrees (Master of Arts and Master of Science).
Rod died on 29th May 2009. As one of his last assignments, in 2005 he accepted an invitation from the Bishop of Townsville, Queensland, Australia, and took care of the parish of Palm Island off the Queensland coast. This permitted the local priest to be away for six weeks.
The parish on Palm Island has predominantly an Aboriginal population. Rod has ministered there previously, and has lifelong friends there among the Aboriginal community.
During those weeks, Rod also travelled to Paluma, which is in rainforest on the Australian mainland near Ingham, to deliver a talk on the Aboriginal spiritual tradition to members of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Catholic Commission.
His life-changing contact with some of the tribal Aborigines of Australia happened in 1960.
He had been invited to the Aboriginal missions at Kimberley, Western Australia to promote the Legion of Mary.
As Rod recalls it, "One evening I was sitting alone on the beach at La Grange, a sacred meeting place of Aboriginal tribes for many centuries."
"About twenty metres away at a campsite were members of the Karajari tribe, who were in 1960 still essentially following their traditional culture."
"As I watched the sunset, I felt a stranger to these people and to the land. And then a girl aged maybe eight or nine years left their campsite, ran up to me, and threw her arms around me."
"She could speak no English, but smiled at me and laughed in a way that expressed welcome and happiness."
"Her gesture touched my soul. At that moment I began to feel at one with the land, and felt that somehow I belonged to these people. They accepted me, and have accepted me ever since."
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