gospel message that was lived in the community of Redfern
was shared with the world beyond. I first met Ted Kennedy
in 1970 when he came to Queensland
to give a pre-ordination retreat. That encounter changed
living in Redfern Ted had begun to view the world from
the perspective of the excluded. When he shared the
gospel from that perspective old beliefs were destroyed
and new ones were born. After seven years of study,
during those few days, the gospel lived in a way I had
never before imagined and I began to know a Jesus who
was previously obscured.
vivid memory of that retreat was Ted speaking of Jesus’
meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. I had
previously seen her as the “beneficiary” of Jesus’ kindness,
lucky to be recognized, forever to be grateful. Yet
Ted spoke of that meeting as dangerous for Jesus because
he was making it clear that his message was for women,
for all races, for those considered immoral, for the
non-accepted. By including the excluded Jesus challenged
the powerful hypocrites and would pay the ultimate price.
Yet there was no other way, then or now.
remained through the years a mentor, teacher and friend.
I visited Redfern occasionally and met people like Mum
Shirl who invited constant conversion to the Jesus of
the poor. My journey eventually led to Chile
to Christian communities like Redfern that had opted
for the poor. There I met many other living saints,
courageous men and women, who lost their lives because
they believed and were dangerous for other powerful
twenty years I left the priesthood. The “ex” tag moved
me to new margins but while I felt the silence of many
former colleagues Ted and Redfern welcomed me.
upside down vision continues to live in many places
as those, like me, who have glimpsed it have gone on
their different ways. Once it has been received it can
never be taken away.
reminds me of a Chilean woman who was speaking publicly
of her memories of the three years when Salvador Allende
was President of Chile. She said, “It was a time when
we were recognized and respected. We were treated as
people then. The military dictators have brutally taken
that away but they can never destroy the truth I felt
and knew. That time was the little summertime of the
poor and it lives today in my heart.”
happens in the future the truth of Ted and the Redfern
community will live in many hearts and I for one will
be forever grateful.
by Brian McMahon