For the first few years of my coming to Redfern to Mass, St Vincent‘s meant chiefly the value I placed on the friendship and support of Ted Kennedy.
I had been closely associated with Ted during his time as Chaplain at Sydney University and had come to appreciate the genuineness, the generosity, the breadth of mind, the commitment to freedom and justice that marked his Catholicism.
As I was gathering my thoughts to compose an introduction to my reflection on Fr Ted and St Vincent‘s Redfern, two things struck me in regard to the simple title of this piece that I had just written.
1. "Fr Ted Kennedy" – How often do we mention Ted’s surname, or even his title "Father"? Our traditional way of addressing him is "Ted" or "Fr Ted". I would think that this is a very natural instinct and indication of the intimacy of our relationship with him, of his attitude for a “fair go” for … Continue reading
My dad may have been a truck driver and a laundryman but he ran his service as a business and he kept his Bondi family in creature comforts. Good sheets and pyjamas were de rigueur. When I got to university, Ted as chaplain was a shock not just intellectually, but physically. As we became close friends we slept in the same room several times – in huts, at Newman Society camps, at Araluen, and so on. Ted seemed to have no concern for pyjamas. He dossed down in shorts, shirts, old coats, pants (still with … Continue reading
Here’s a winter bush
that blazons white
and blooms five petals
from pink cups.
It’s pods are hard
clusters of seed
that seem round
basket of loaves.
Its leaf looks a knife
but like a pine’s
Here’s a winter bush
Where does one find God: within or without? Where does one find a gathering of the “people of God”? I found such a gathering (my idea of what “church” is) at St Vincent‘s Church in Redfern, Sydney. Catholic, it is, in terms of its representation: people of varying social class and background, some Aboriginal, Anglo-Celtic and other ethnic background, one or two who have some form of mental illness, and very young children occasionally running around, oblivious of the liturgy.
My earliest memories of St Vincent’s concern the church itself.
By late ‘71 I was back in Sydney after having done the rounds of “training” by the then policy of Conscription which took some of my peers off to their deaths or reduced them to a traumatised state in Vietnam. Others, like myself who were considered poor military material were given softer options. I mention this personal historical detail because I think that St Vincent’s offers a challenge in real life terms to anyone who is prepared to come to … Continue reading
The death of an Aboriginal man, Ocky, at the back of the Church.
Ocky’s Camp: the dim back corner of the Church. A little row of medicine bottles for his chest complaint, a little carrier bag, a few papers, the plate of his last meal, and some tattered blankets on the floor. Beside his head, a pair of thick-lensed glasses.
To me, Redfern is a place where the Church is truly alive.
As you walk in, there is a feeling of the church belonging to all the people who go there; and as you attend the Eucharist, there is a feeling of involvement in the local church and in all the major spiritual and justice issues of the day in the wider Church and world.