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.
I was in Redfern from about late eighties until 1993. People from about 167 Parishes in Sydney were attracted to the Redfern church Community headed by Father Ted Kennedy. His preaching of the Gospel, reading and sharing theology was refreshing. It challenged us to practical works of peace and justice. Mum Shirl Smith was a powerful model for us all. I recall wonderful celebrations of Easter where Parishioners were involved in creating touching authentic ways of celebrating; Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The Gospel imperative called us to join peace ventures, attend court … Continue reading
But alas for you Pharisees! You pay your tithes of mint and rue and all sorts
of garden herbs and overlook justice and the love of God. (Luke 41/42)
Many years ago, my husband, Ted Burke, and I became very tired of listening to sermons about Money – Children Crying – causing us to leave Mass on Sunday in a very angry frame of mind. We needed a depth to our Faith. Two of our daughters had made Redfern THEIR Church. Just a case of parents following their daughters.
I have been connected to St Vincent‘s Redfern since the late 70’s.
It was through St Vincent‘s that I have become friends with many Aboriginal people over the years including “Mum Shirl’
It was at St Vincent‘s that my marriage to Peter Griffin was publicly declared with friends, family and strangers.
I first came to Redfern on Trinity Sunday. I think the year was 1981. We had recently moved to Sydney, were living in West Ryde, a fair way from Redfern, and had attended Mass at various parishes near where we lived.
On this particular Sunday, having heard of Ted Kennedy and Redfern, we decided to go there. I saw a man who was older than I expected but whose voice was strong enough to fill the church. When it was time for the sermon, I sat back and remember thinking … Continue reading