Tjurunga is a publication of the Benedictine Union of Australia and New Zealand. Michael Casey ocso, describes the original focus of this periodical in his last editorial as follows:
Initially Tjurunga conceived itself to be a channel of ongoing education whereby readers could catch up with some of the recent studies concerning Benedictine history and spirituality and associated topics. The phrase used was haute vulgarisation; the content would aim at a middle-brow audience among those attached to the Benedictine tradition, with a view to bring them up to speed on what was happening in the world of scholarship. In addition, it was hoped that having a periodical of its own would give the Benedictine Union of Australia and New Zealand a greater sense of identity and common patrimony.
The first issue of Tjurunga came off the press in 1971 and its circulation has grown worldwide ever since. Since 2013, Carmel Posa sgs and Katharine Massam have been editors of the journal.
Tjurunga has a history that shows the riches of monastic tradition; it is itself testament to the monastic discipline of reading carefully and writing well, and to the generous sharing of ideas. We hope that you can find much in its pages to prompt good conversation and the deepening of spirituality.
An Explanation of the Name
The following is based on the article that appeared in Tjurunga 50, celebrating 25 years of publication. It includes sections of an piece written by Mother M Xavier McMonagle, from the then, Tyburn Priory, Manly, NSW, Australia, which appeared in Tjurunga 1 (1971), 5-7. Mother Xavier also designed the special tjurunga which has, from the beginning, served as the logo of the journal.
In Central Australia, the Aranda group of Aborigines give the name tjurunga to the sacred stones used in their religious rites. Tjurunga are extremely sacred objects. They are slabs of stone or sometimes wood. They are oval, or pointed oval, flatted or slightly convex in shape Their size varies from several inches to almost two meters in length. Most tjurunga, have intricate patterns incised on them. These have meaning and the tjurunga themselves have a religious significance that links them with the spirit-life of the people.
The incised designs on the tjurunga are composed of the following elements: concentric circles or portions thereof, such as U-within-U figurations. The concentric circles are said to represent the central component of religious belief; the U-within-U figures represent the members of the group – people sitting round a fire, as it were.
In giving our periodical the name Tjurunga we have taken an element deeply embedded in our Aboriginal religious traditions and transposed it to a Benedictine setting. The early history of Benedictinism in Australia – New Norcia, Beagle Bay and work of Archbishop Polding – was marked by a strong desire to build harmonious relationship with the Aboriginal people. This tradition continues today throughout Australia. So, the name and design are Aboriginal in inspiration, as are so many of our place names in modern Australia including Tarrawarra and Jamberoo. Followers of Saint Benedict have always cared deeply about the land and its peoples. We hope that we may continue this tradition so that we also may be recognised – in the twelfth-century phrase – as “lovers of the place”. It seems that, ultimately, it will be our location here in Australia that will determine our distinctive identity as Benedictines.
After 25 years of publication in 1996, and in celebration of the 50th anniversary edition of Tjurunga, and in light of suggestions made by several persons, the then Editorial Board sought to ensure that our use of the name Tjurunga was not in any way offensive to the Aboriginal community. They received the following response to their inquires.
From Vicki Walker
(Now Vicki Clark - was Coordinator of Aboriginal Catholic Ministry for 25 years up until 2015)
I see the use of Aboriginal words in today’s vocabulary as a form of recognition of Australia’s first people. Respect for the meaning of the Aboriginal words must always be upheld, and one must never lose the true meaning of those words.
I support the use of the Aranda word Tjurunga, as I believe that the members of the Benedictine Union of Australia and New Zealand would keep the highest respect for all that embraces Aboriginal culture.