knew of Fr Ted Kennedy from the early 1970’s, but did
not become a participant at Redfern until the early
and I were part of the loose Christian Community living
in shared houses around the Uni of NSW. We were also
early members of the St Vincent de Paul Night Patrol
and often ventured into Redfern on our fortnightly rounds
to talk to those sleeping out, to offer a cuppa and
sandwich and conversation, and a bed if desired, and
we’d called into de Porres house sometimes. We were
moved by the Catholic Worker Movement initiated by Dorothy
Day and made our shared house in Reservoir St Surry
Hills a bit of an open house for Night Patrollers and
passers by if we were home.
began attending Redfern
in 1981, and continued to attend even when we moved
to Earlwood and later Petersham. Our son Luke was baptised
at Redfern Catholic Church by his uncle, a Uniting
minister, with Ted looking on and registering the event.
This was a continuation of our ecumenical marriage consecrated
at another church years earlier.
1982 and 83 my memories are strong of Ted’s reflections
and openness to people and their participation in the
Mass, Mum Shirl’s call to action, her grannies proudly
helping with alter serving, the sisters on the organ
and controlling the hymn choice and pace, Harold gracing
us with his brisk stride through the aisles, Joe who
didn’t have much English, but who always smiled in welcome,
Patty Newman, and others who spoke up strongly or tiptoed
in quietly. Networks of friends grew from the congregation:
Peter and Maggie, Fay and Chris, Tom and Jan, Bronwyn
and Michael Crosby, Tric Darvel, Jeanette George, Sister
Dom, Rhonda and Hilary, May and John Wong, Anna and
John (the couple visiting from the “States) Elizabeth
and Ken and Katherine, and many many more faces and
mislaid names. As well there were the extended family
of Peter and Madge Kearney, Anne and Chris Donaldson
and Claire Parkhill who visited from the Highlands,
and occasionally Karin Donaldson or Peter Williams from
Redfern we were told of Black Deaths in Custody watch
committees, jail visits and conditions, anti-racism
action, peace rallies, AWD plans, activities on “The
Block, ” police raids and who was unwell in the community,
needing support or advocacy. Denis Doherty and Hannah
urged us to act against the American bases, and I later
joined a protest bus going to Pine Gap with other Redfernites.
We provided occasional transport to Shirley in her advocacy.
We welcomed Carmel
and Mick Skinner from the Wagga House of Welcome when
they came to Sydney.
1985, Linds and I decided to move out of Sydney.
Our destination was finally decided by the knowledge
that some Redfern links existed in the Southern
Soon after moving to Mittagong, Linds and I joined the
Donaldsons, Kearneys and Hammertons in regular reflection,
ritual and action around Aboriginal and other justice
issues and peace activities. Even today, we maintain
strong connections with each other and with Redfern
and our caring for Ted now he spends more time at Burrawang.
Our close links developed through shared reflection,
rituals and traditions we built together which shared
with others. These rituals were important in our children’s
formation into social justice and caring. And all of
us link back to Ted and to Redfern as often as we can.
It is still our community.
by Sally Waterford