Redfern & Ted Kennedy

The Man and the Philosophy

As is often the case, the philosophy comes before the philosopher. If the thoughts and words and actions of the person are such that they touch the very essence of our conscience and spirit, then we are led to seek the source of the wisdom. If we see around us people living the philosophy and sharing the great gifts of God’s presence in their lives, then we are drawn closer by their example to the source of the inspiration.

 

When we are seeking answers to questions that disturb us about our own and the human condition and we cannot release ourselves from prejudice or pride or self, we look for inspiration from the Spirit. With His guidance we are led to people and communities that hold the key to interpreting the gospels and their relevance in a world advanced two thousand years from their inspiration.

Such was my experience with Redfern. I was seeking answers to the problem of Aboriginal reconciliation and my part in the process. I was seeking answers on how to be a working Christian without the trappings of the conventions that bound me and confronted me and sometimes offended me. I had a need to celebrate God’s love and sacrifice as a personal and ongoing experience in my life. Through the auspices of good friends, I was led to St Vincent‘s, Redfern, the source of a great, living and liveable conscience that surrounded me and lifted and inspired me.

At that time, Ted Kennedy was only “doing” mass once a month. I missed him the first time around but I was becoming aware of him and what the Redfern community was all about. I could not believe the love and compassion that resonated within the walls of that old church. The Spirit moved freely amongst the congregation and everyone seemed to be touched by a special caring for others. I wanted to be part of this community and share the special intimacy that I have with Christ.

When I first met Ted, it was somewhat of an anticlimax – shorts, slippers, a worn stole and a fragile body. Could this be the man of the legend? He greeted me, seated on an old vinyl chair with a makeshift altar in front of him and a decidedly dishevelled look about him. He offered his hand to me and I felt the warmth and strength of the man. It was then that I realised that he was the simple man behind the philosophy – that we should treat others with kindness, love, understanding and compassion. Not judging but loving each other as we want to be loved and most of all, sharing and giving of what we have above and often beyond our means.

The love and caring of our special catholic community is a tribute to Ted Kennedy – a contemporary of Mum Shirl, the author of mind the opening book, Who is Worthy?, a good and inclusive pastor to his parish for thirty or so years and an inspiration for the future.

I salute Ted Kennedy – a man of conviction and action. He has lived his life as he has interpreted the scriptures and we are all much the better for it. His philosophies will keep us strong, long after he leaves us.

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