REFLECTIONS
Father Ted Kennedy
St Vincent's Redfern 1971 - 2002
 
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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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The first Aboriginal people I ever encountered I met at St Vincent's. People like Mum Shirl, Vernon Chillie and his sisters, Laurence Lucas, Gladdie Haines and Sam Hookey have enriched my life in many unexpected ways, and I'm very grateful to Ted Kennedy for being such an important bridge between whites and blacks in Sydney.

I deeply value the opportunity Redfern gave me to understand Aboriginal people as something more than characters in school textbooks and tragic headlines in the papers, and I hope Ted and the St Vincent's community helped me to truly appreciate and respect the strength, grace and goodness with which so many indigenous people carry out their struggle. I hope I'll always support that struggle and take it up wherever and whenever I can.

I'm also grateful to Ted and Redfern for helping me approach my religious heritage from a perspective that made some sense to me. And even though I can only be described as irretrievably lapsed at this stage, I think my sense of the Catholic tradition is more nuanced thanks to St Vincent's than it might have been after twelve years of Catholic school.

I also met plenty of warm, original, creative and inspiring people at Redfern, like Maureen Flood, Vianney Hatton and Marnie Kennedy.

Ted's humility, kindness, intelligence, imagination and eloquence made St Vincent's the kind of intellectually and spiritually stimulating community a Catholic parish should be. His post-modern approach to the gospel is enlivening, challenging, hope-filling and heart-warming all at once.

I'm still not sure there should be any such thing as churches or priests, but Ted Kennedy and his parish stand for me as the best case scenario!

Thanks so much, Ted, for all you've offered us at St Vincentís, and for all you've done for Sydney and for Australia.


by Sarah Gilbert
 

 

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