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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My first sighting of Fr Ted Kennedy, Parish administrator of St Vincentís Redfern must have been in the early eighties when Lenore Sharry (NDS) (who died of cancer in January 1995) took me to Redfern on Saturday evening on the train for a 6.0 p.m. Mass. We usually attended the Erskineville Church, which was a fifteen minute walk from our house, so this was something a little different. I cannot remember very much about that first occasion, except that I was quite intrigued by the long strips of cream paint peeling off the rather shabby white walls in that quite dimly lit place. I also remember the wooden floor boards. It must have been winter time.

A few years later in 1988, after being given the sack (for insubordination) as Parish organist, singer and non-resident guitarist at St Maryís, Erskineville, I came to Redfern in search of a friendly Church. It was getting a little wearisome, anyway, to have to lead the singing and play every Sunday. I needed a change.

Tedís sermons were always the highlight of the Mass for me, for there seemed often to be a twist to the usual interpretation of the gospel that was really worth thinking about. It also delighted me that we did not have to stand for ages for a long Creed or equally long Prayers of the Faithful. The notices at the end of Mass, where people get up to give their ďspiffĒ, continue to keep me abreast of justice issues.

In 1991 Marnie Kennedy (RSCJ), Tedís sister moved in with us (the Sisters of Sion) at our heavenly address at 2 Devine St, Erskineville 2043, just five minutes from St Peterís Station. She has been there ever since, except for being absent for a period that spanned most of 1993 to the beginning of 1996.

In 1993, for about three months Marnie was in Rome to give a session to a group of Sacre Coeur nuns from round the world. Shortly after her return, in October 1993, Marnie and Tedís sister, Celie became very ill with another bout of cancer, which eventually claimed her life in early 1995. Marnie nursed her during all that time. Her illness and death was a really painful time.

I can remember Celieís Mass which Ted said. I can remember the poem and the Irish blessing. When we went outside of the Church with Celieís coffin, a flock of noisy, brilliantly coloured rainbow lorikeets swooped down from the trees as if joining in the farewell. Marnie stayed in Celieís flat for the next few months, and supervised the renovations that were being made prior to selling it. A former alcoholic, a friend of Tedís, came often to do the painting. It took rather a long time.

Marnie returned to Divine Street in 1996 where she has been ever since with the one permanent resident, myself. And what of Ted? When the car worked, he would pick up Marnie about 9.15 am. every Sunday and visit someone in need on the way to the Church. At one stage it was Mum Shirl, who actually came to our place a couple of times (with Dom) for Easter or Christmas dinner. I have the photos to prove it.

If ever two people appreciate the telephone it is Marnie and Ted. I often pick up the phone to Ted who says: "Whereís Marnie?Ē Marnie may not always be home, but I usually know her whereabouts and leave the message to phone. That was him phoning a minute ago. I donít actually know right now where Marnie has gone!


by Marianne Dacy (NDS)
 

 

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