many non-indigenous Australians, I had never known any
Aboriginal people before I started coming to Redfern.
So this is probably the most significant change that
Redfern has made to my life. Ted and the St
community gave me the opportunity to begin to get to
know many different Aboriginal people, and to witness
the generosity of spirit of those who are among the
most dispossessed people on earth. Through Ted, and
of course Mum Shirl, I came to see what it should mean
to be a Christian in Australia
Ė how Australian Christianity is inextricably bound
to the struggle for justice for Indigenous people. In
the years that have followed this introduction Iíve
had the opportunity to become involved in this struggle
in different ways and to meet many more people Ė both
black and white Ė who are looking for ways to help bring
about a better future. I thank you Ted for that.
rather like the birds of the air and the flowers of
the field, Tedís focus is always more on the present
than the future. I have never known anyone to carry
less baggage or to worry less about what or how things
will happen. I experienced a literal example of this
liberation of Tedís a few years ago when Danny and I
spent a memorable two weeks travelling around Ireland
with him. Tedís luggage consisted of a suitcase the
size of a school bag, and as far as I could tell, there
were only books in it! Ted, with his enthusiasm for
all things Irish, and his knowledge and love of Irish
literature and history, was a wonderful travelling companion.
Even now when his mobility is so restricted, Ted likes
nothing more than to jump in any available car and go
tearing around the state visiting his many friends.
a personal level Ted has always, without any fuss, made
himself available. When my sister Joanne was very ill
in hospital, Ted was a constant visitor. Ted also travelled
all the way to Howlong to concelebrate at my fatherís
requiem mass, which meant a lot to my whole family.
at Redfern was always an experience. Although the trappings
were missing, and there were often competing small dramas
involving dogs or small children, Ted always brought
a reverence to the Mass that I have rarely experienced
in more resplendent surroundings. The familiar words
of the liturgy always came alive as if he were saying
them for the first time, as if it was always the first
time we had heard them.
homilies have always been inspirational. His insistence
on bringing the human presence of the historical Jesus
into the here and now was always central. He always
reminded us that the gospels are political in the real
sense of the word Ė that they are about the location
and use of power, and that the kingdom
is a revolutionary one.
loves the Catholic Church, even though he is its harshest
critic. He is relentlessly engaged in the war against
clericalism, and in his championing of all those who
are marginalised by the institutional church Ė the poor,
Aboriginal people, the gay community, and women Ė Ted
offered us a vision of a church built on humanity in
all its forms, rather than a network of rules more at
home in the committee room of a bowling club. In a radical
departure from the Catholicism that people of my generation
were taught as children, Ted took out the fear and replaced
it with fearlessness.
very sure that I never heard Ted tell anyone what to
do or what not to do, but his words were always full
of hope Ė of the possibility that we can be better than
we are and that we can make our world a better place.
Tedís faith in human potential is breathtaking in its
scope yet always rooted in the particularities of the
here and now. Ted had a way of showing us the big picture,
of putting the right perspective on things. I often
had the experience of going to St
weighed down by concerns that seemed important, only
to experience a kind of expansion of vision, a lessening
of constriction, that left me with a sense of hopefulness
and of possibility.
the words of Tedís beautiful Eucharistic prayer, we
all thank God for Ted who came into our lives and challenged
us to grow.
by Kathleen Gilbert