I have an image of an arc floating on a vast sea with sails set to the horizon. There are people on board from diverse cultures and backgrounds, rescued from a sunken vessel. This image slowly emerged during my 10 years as a parishioner of St Vincent’s Catholic Church in Redfern, Sydney.
Today, from my home in New Zealand that image remains a powerful symbol of hope as I live and work among mostly young people who are starving for the real bread – a church that can taste the … Continue reading
When I was at school, the Mercy nuns and the Christian Brothers used to make much of how Jesus came to save us by suffering and dying on the Cross and, in this way, repaying to a seemingly insatiable God the Father, the debt of Original sin. I wondered even then about this, after all I had nothing to do with Adam and Eve disobeying God in the Garden of Eden and I certainly didn’t ask Jesus to die a horrible death for me to somehow make it all okay.
In the middle of the 1970’s Mark Raper S.J., then Director of the Jesuit “Asian Bureau”, asked me to write an article on the links between contemplation and social awareness/action. Mark could have supposed that I might know something about contemplation, though that would have been a somewhat doubtful assumption. It is true that I had, been living a completely enclosed `contemplative” life for twelve years, before the changes f Vatican II brought our contemplative, Eucharistic life back to earth and back to an earthed theology of Eucharist. I wanted to write the article. I … Continue reading
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.