first Aboriginal people I ever encountered I met at
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.
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.
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
than it might have been after twelve years of Catholic
also met plenty of warm, original, creative and inspiring
people at Redfern, like Maureen Flood, Vianney Hatton
and Marnie Kennedy.
humility, kindness, intelligence, imagination and eloquence
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.
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!
so much, Ted, for all you've offered us at St
and for all you've done for Sydney
and for Australia.
by Sarah Gilbert