Sunday 25 Feb 2007

One rule for the community, another for the Neocats.

The pews were filled for last Sunday’s 10am Mass with people who had come for the launch of poet Noel Davis’ latest work, "The Heart Waking – and breaking into dance". Back in October 2003, gathered here to launch an earlier publication, "From the Wilds of the Heart…Comes the Singing of the Quiet".

They came to share the 10am Eucharist with us before hearing Marist Br Charles Howard launch the book, and then be treated to the poet’s own words as part of the community’s "Sharing the Journey" programme.

They were also treated to a fine display of Neocat divisiveness and disdain for the community when assistant pp Clesio Mendes invited "John" to make an announcement before the end of Mass – despite the fact that community announcements with the priest still at the altar have been strictly verboten by pp Prindiville ever since the Neocat shadow fell upon Redfern.

No one could remember having seen "John" at St Vincent’s before, but he had that Neocatechumenal demeanour, and he was clearly known to Mendes. He came up to the lectern and started talking about something he called the "Chain of Mary".


Neocatechumenal demeanour.
Only one of these Redfern Neocats is not a seminarian.

This was too much for some members of the community. Catherine, so appalled at the double standards, stood up and loudly protested "This is outrageous! One rule for you lot, and another for us!" and left the church. Others spoke out as well.

"John" returned to his seat, unable to complete his spiel and probably oblivious to the hornet’s nest he had disturbed.

Mendes grinned.

Michael took the microphone to assure "John" that he was not the target of the outburst, and to explain to the many members of the congregation who were not St Vincent’s regulars how, after futile attempts to discuss the ban with Prindiville all those years ago, the community acquiesced in the interests of maintaining the peace, even though it had been the custom for decades to have announcements after Communion as a kind of extension of the Eucharist into the world beyond the walls of the Church.

Kate tried to tackled Mendes in the sacristy after Mass, saying something like: "Why the special treatment for the Neocats in the community?", only to have him assure her that he was not a member of her community. (Kate is one of the founders and principal drivers of the Sharing the Meal initiative.)

So it goes.

PS: A note from Peter:

Just to add that after Clesio had de-vested and was exiting the church I asked him whether he was going to establish "one rule for all". Initially he said "pardon?" which gave me the opportunity to verify that he clearly understood the question , so I was happy to repeat it for him. In reponse to the second asking, he quickly and clearly responded "no".

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