funeral was my last visit to Redfern. That ceremony,
simple yet splendid in its aboriginal rituals, chants
and symbolism was an acknowledgment of the dignity and
rights of our indigenous people far different from my
earliest memories of St
a home visit from our community in Melbourne, in the
early 70s, Jo Dirks took me up to St Vincent's where
I met John Butcher, known to our family from my brother's
days at Waverley, Fergus, who had officiated at this
same brother's wedding, and, of course, Ted.
vastly different world from our monastic enclosure!
in 1977 or so, Maureen (Flood) and I came up to stay
at the Presbytery for a week or more, to be part of
the life and ministry at St
In 1979 I brought our then Congregational Leader, who
was visiting Australia,
to meet Ted, and, finally I came to our community, established
in 1979, and lived there from 1983-1991.
and daily liturgies at St
were dominated, firstly, by Ted's homilies and the reflection
and discussion they provoked, and, secondly, the people
whom I gradually came to know and admire. Clearly, this
congregation is an intentional community of people passionate
about issues of justice and the rights of our aboriginal
brothers and sisters. A special delight for me was watching
the children growing up, Matthew Cleary and James and
Sarah Gilbert and the Bourke twins’ babies and others.
what happened at the church was only a smidgen of what
happened in our little community at Forbes
I was out of my depth here ... the door always open,
the space filled daily with our Aboriginal friends seeking
hospitality. My memories embrace Harold and Leo, Patty
Newman and Dicko and Denis and...
coming back to the house at 9.30 pin on Christmas Eve
to walk me to the Midnight Mass because I was alone;
at the door at
on Boxing Day to introduce to me his “new de facto';
with her new little baby, tenderly cradled as we walked
to the "early opener"; And Mum Shirl.
my most precious memory is of Mum Shirl. It was the
Sunday in July after we had buried my mother. My heart
was crying out for public recognition of the wonder
and richness of her life, but no one knew of her death.
But Mum Shirl recognised my need. She came to me in
the church and embraced me, and then she returned with
us to Forbes
and, in an unobtrusive and wholly acceptable way, stayed
around simply to be with us/me. I will never forget
means for me an opportunity to know aboriginal men and
women as friends. It means the chance to come to know
and admire people like Mick Asher and Danny and Rhonda.
It is also, for me, a learning about my own limitations.
I am no Mother Teresa. The community at St
represents an alternative way of being church, the Body
of Christ. Ted is prophet, priest and servant, animator
of prophets, priests and servants whose gifts are laid
out for our nourishment and for the challenging and
nurturing of the Church of Sydney.