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

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Visitors since 12 April 2004
  Church Mouse

My experience of being at St Vincent's, Redfern, my friendship with Fr Ted Kennedy, Shirley Perry Smith, and so many wonderful aboriginal people and others who formed a caring, prayerful community, have been the happiest time of my life. I feel privileged to have shared in so many occasions of happiness and those of sorrow, in so many liturgies, and to have gained much from the wisdom of Fr Ted. The community here, together, have tried to find ways and to avert and repair injustices, in particular to our indigenous people, but also to the people in need in our midst.

When I first met Father Ted, he had taken many aboriginal people into the Presbytery and was caring for them. He had friends who came to help with cooking meals - great numbers were coming every night. When the school was closed, the Mercy Convent was made available in 1974, and the first Sisters to have the happy task of looking after increasing numbers of aboriginal people were Sr Ignatius, Sr Ellen Reid, and myself, (Sr John.) Tom Hammerton, (then a De la Salle brother) came a little later, and later again, Sr Joan Hamilton, Sr Christine Smith, Sr Miriam Gibbons, Sr Rhonda Bourke, Sr Germaine Hurst, and Karen Donaldson. Many Mercy Sisters were always there to support us. The priests I remember who were involved were Allan Mithen, Graham Carter, Michael Mahoney, John Harte, Kevin McCarthy and Maurie Crittenden. Others who came were Geoff George, Tom Stephens, Anne Laffan, Prue Powell, Christine O'Loughlin, Brian Hancock, John Hatherly and Paul Wonnocot. The Little Sisters of Jesus, and the Charles de Foucald Brothers lived nearby. Shirley had many friends who assisted her in many ways, and there would be names of some I have forgotten or did not know. We were happy to help Father Ted and Shirley in so many various ways, with housing and cooking, taking food to needy people, going to gaols, often driving long distances for meetings of importance with other aboriginal communities or for funerals. I often escorted ill or traumatized people to the Rachel Forster Hospital before the School building at the back of the Church was offered to the Aboriginal Medical Services by Father Ted. This was when they needed bigger quarters.

My deepest memory will always be the many aboriginal people I came to know and love very much, the very vulnerable ones, so many who belonged to the stolen generation, and sadly have died. These we farewelled in the Church and took them to their burial places. The list of names is so long and Father Ted remembers them by name at Mass, but finds it hard to say their names, remembering the times of happiness together and the inevitability of their not being able to `make it'. So many of these would not have found their families since being taken away in their childhood

The Church here has been the home of the "Churchies", as they called themselves. Led by Normie West, they `lined up” in their best clothes for the Eucharist. Johnny Dixon, many would remember serving at the Altar. Pattie Newman could not be forgotten if ever you had met her. Gladdie Haines you all know and love. In fact, everyone had their own beautiful ways and gave us their love'. Shirley's presence would have drawn them to here too.

Today, the Church is still a place of coming together. We find inspiration in one another and are fortunate to have good leadership among us - priests, sisters and faith-filled community members who are conscious of serious issues. This is, I believe, the heritage and ongoing commitment of care and love at St Vincent's in Redfern, and something we want to continue.

by Sr John (Pat) Durnan


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