From ‘A Celebrant’s Notebook:
“The civil marriage celebrant programme was unlike any other to emerge from our political heart. Ambitious and simple, with a great vision, we have a countrywide mandate and freedom with consequences in need of realising. I believe that Murphy intended that we, as a people, experience and enact fully our entitlement to make a secular sacrament of marriage and other rites of passage and dedicate ourselves to learning the mysteries of ceremony making. That is, a ceremony imparting spiritual grace, as we honour our people and renew our culture in tune with our contemporary world, amidst the messiness of the everyday and the often fractured and contentious realities of contemporary life and history.”
I wrote A Celebrant’s Notebook (published in 2018), to document and share what I have learned through my work as a celebrant, and in homage to Lionel Murphy who founded the programme.
Murphy envisioned celebrants as catalysts of culture, readers of moral values, expressers of what people see as morally important and artistically beautiful. He had a life-long commitment to human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the preservation of the common heritage of humanity. He created a programme which is unique in the world, giving Authorised Civil Celebrants the authority to solemnise marriages in Law and now, from December 2017, to include solemnising marriages between LGBTIQ couples.
Lionel Murphy’s dream gives my work wings to create authentic Australian ceremonies in tune with our own purpose and transition, honouring our many cultures, drawing from our origins, grounded in this land with its complex heritage. It is an act of continual discovery and learning.
We are free to co-create civil ceremonies for weddings, funerals, naming ceremonies, recommitments, other life transitions. We are also free to co-create community ceremonies for larger groups with all the artistry at our disposal. In other words, regarding any matter that deeply engages us, in joy and sorrow, loss and gain, focusing on the specific qualities, experiences and circumstances of those at the centre.
Our ceremonies may include hymns and prayers and religious or secular practices and artistic expression and performance from any tradition. They may include ancient or recent ceremonial rites and rituals and bring forward newly created ones.