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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
in Redfern, and something we want to continue.
by Sr John (Pat) Durnan