Father Ted Kennedy
St Vincent's Redfern 1971 - 2002
A compilation of reflections by Community members presented to Ted Kennedy on his retirement as parish priest of the St Vincent's Catholic Church in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern.
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Fr Ted Kennedy

Reflections 1
Reflections 2
Reflections 3
Reflections 4
Reflections 5
Who is Worthy?
Letters from Ted

Mum Shirl

Her story

Recent Parish Priests

Pell's appointments
The Neocats
Our pastors

Interesting reading

Points of view

Visitors since 12 April 2004
  Church Mouse

We came to 5t Vincent's Church in Redfern about 17 years ago, from the comfort zone, offered to us by the North Shore Catholic Church. We were wandering around looking for a challenge, when our friends, Marnie and Pat, moved into Caroline Street. We often visited them there and were happy to accept their invitation to come to Redfern and “try it out”. Ted reinforced the welcome and we were hooked. We certainly found a challenge - we've felt challenged and unsettled ever since.

Our first surprise was the distance people were prepared to travel for Mass on Sunday. No one was there because of obligation. We must have passed ten churches to reach Redfern from home and there were others in the community who travelled far greater distances. There were two attractions - Father Ted Kennedy and a community committed to justice for Aboriginal people and human rights for all. It is a community of great diversity - a haven for marginalised and oppressed people, for scholars, sculptors, poets and others craving the truth.

It is rare to find someone who can be involved in “the big picture” yet devoted to “the small picture” as well. Ted's consuming passion for rights for the Aboriginal community and marginalised people does not separate him from our more everyday needs. He was there at David's hospital bedside before 7am to give him Communion, a memory David treasures. He was there for Belinda, who with her partner was making a documentary about Aboriginal Spirituality - generous with his time and long experience. He was there to marry Victoria and Damian. He was there to welcome Gabrielle's elderly mother and make her feel the most important person in the church, when she visited Redfern. We have been enriched by his knowledge and love of poetry. David is ever grateful for the introduction to John Shaw Neilson. Ted has been there to share our joys and sorrows as he has shared his own with us.

In joining the Redfern community, a new world and way of “church” was opened up to us. All the unnecessary trappings of ritual and rules had been stripped away. People mattered most We were bowled over by Ted's knowledge and care for each one of the Aboriginal community. He knows everyone by name, they are his family and their genealogy, their “country” are as important to him as his own beloved Araluen and Ireland. It's not just because he has a fantastic memory, he has that, he genuinely loves each and every one. With the struggle have come joy and great suffering for Ted. He has watched so many die, he has buried so many friends.

The greatest loss of all was Mum Shirl's death in 1998. We see her still outside the church, wielding her black handbag - the greatest theologian of all. One of our proudest moments was when she cradled our first grandchild, Atticus, in her experienced arms and gave him her approval. He needed no further imprimatur. Ted's love is bountiful. Each one of our community is treasured by him. He has always endowed us with such trust, sharing any plans, asking for advice, never seeing himself as having power over but empowering us all to share decisions and to be guided by truth. Ted has broken open the Gospel for us. For the first time we heard that the Woman at the Well had not sinned but had been sinned against. It makes so much sense. The Widow's Mite spoke not about her generosity in the face of poverty, but about the extortion of the poor by the hierarchy. Faith isn't as strong as steel but as weak and fragile as a mustard seed. Ted's “flip-side” of each Gospel story “has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the humble”. In the middle of a minutely researched and erudite homily, we have seen Ted welcome one of the Aboriginal community to take the microphone and bring his or her perspective to the subject - or not. We have seen him carry on in the midst of “Redfern chaos” with children and dogs whooping to and fro and nary a missed beat. He has thanked each one of us most graciously for our contributions to the liturgy - whether it be doing the readings on ordinary Sundays (if such a Sunday ever existed at Redfern) - or preparing the Easter Ceremonies with solemnity or all the bells and whistles! We cannot ever remember Ted's asking to see the planned programme beforehand - he has always trusted us. As Ted takes his leave of us we know we will be ever in each others’ hearts. He has left us with the finest legacy of respect for truth and with the conviction that it is the poor who are with the God of Jesus.

Mum Shirl said:

'Every day is part of a miracle and I have found that to be the truth all my life. “

Ted is our miracle. May he always know our love and gratitude for all he is to us.

by Gabrielle and David Nolan


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