Church Mouse Journal

More morsels from St Vincent's Redfern

Tuesday, 24 May 2005


Ted's funeral - Prayers of the Faithful

Invitation Our world is frail and we all stand in need every day of grace and strength. Ultimately, we must look to God our prodigal father for our bread and his welcome. I invite you all to soften your minds in his presence here, to turn to Him in prayer for our needs and the needs of those we admire and love. When you hear the simple words “Lord, hear us”, please answer with faith and enthusiasm – “Lord, hear our prayer”.

Dearest Father, we regarded Ted our brother as a holy man in our midst, and now as a saint – but like all men and women, pope or peasant, prostitute or prelate, he comes before you naked – without a penny for the ferryman, without a loin cloth to cover his nakedness.

Welcome him into your smiling presence; cover him over with your warm embrace; may the saints shower him with friendly kisses, and your angels publish his glorious deeds throughout the heavens. There is none of us worthy, Lord. All of us must needs have a childlike confidence in your fatherly and prodigal compassion.

Lord, hear us All: Lord, hear our prayer

We all here turn our sad faces to you, Lord, and remember the man who for us was powerful, like your Son – upright, uncompromising, a living treasure, hard, earthy, compassionate, welcoming sinners, a pebble in the comfortable boot of establishment, a man who spilt his guts for others –

Welcome Father Ted to your fatherly, hugging embrace. Show him your sweet mercy; reward him for the generosity of his life, for the evangelical message he lived and proclaimed to us, for constantly reminding those of us with earthly or heavenly power of their ridiculous weaknesses, their cruel blindness and petty pomp; for showing us the true worth of corporate salaries and the stupidity of the BRW rich list. Our Father Ted comes before you, Lord, with a life poured out for all, with empty pockets and dirty hands. Hug him hard for us.

Lord, hear us All: Lord, hear our prayer

We remember the oppressed, the gaoled, the poor and deprived, the alienated and ostracised, the twisted and the lonely – all precious to Father Ted in his lifetime and to you, Lord, in the hidden recesses of your creation- they all cry out for justice and a fair go, and whimper in the crevices of society. The stranger, the misunderstood, the rejects, the druggies and methos.

Raise up an army of Kennedys in our midst, to bandage the wounded, to bury the dead, to share the fruits of your earth, to protect the weak and welcome the stranger. Soften hearts; strengthen backs; let blood flow again in veins so that your oppressed poor may inherit the earth and have a share in its wealth.

Lord, hear us All: Lord, hear our prayer

We pray for the people of Redfern – the black and the white, all men and women, sexual beings of all persuasions, those of religious beliefs and none – We have lost a fierce friend to encourage us, a powerful God botherer, an untidy, grimy prophet, a Jesus figure in our midst.

We are without comfort and support – Our little community is bereft.

We suffer the barbs of hostility, the cold shoulder of aloof indifference.

Lord, we long for another true shepherd to gather us in - one who will include all of us, who will not leave the lame, the flyblown in desert, who has an immense sheep pen, broad enough for all. We seek a courageous leader who will be your agent in the world to change our lives, to renew the face of the earth.

May Redfern forever be a home for our indigenous brothers and sisters. May it be a place where they can gather, where they can feel accepted, comfortable and at home, - free of criticism, untroubled by prejudice, safe from persecution. This was Ted’s wish, his urgent prayer. It is a prayer we make to you Lord in fervent hope of resurrection.

Lord, hear us All: Lord, hear our prayer

We recall the beautiful homilies preached by Father Ted in his little Redfern church; the distribution of bread and the sharing of his modest collections; the untidy presbytery accommodation shared with all comers; Our Father Ted, like St Francis, like your Son Jesus, learnt to love what moved to other rhythms than his own.

We remember that this domain where we stand today was Ted’s territory, his parish. It has been the focus of pain, of anger, echoing with the cries of suffering, a place of protest, of empty needles, of crushed cardboard wine casks. Redfern has had a history of division and violence. It is seen by many as a symbol of failure, of imperial colonial intransigence – but it was also the stage on which a generous Prime Minister, in October 1992, addressed the indigenous people of the land in simple words of transparent honesty without spin, when he brought tears to their eyes and a flutter of hope to their hearts.

Lord, bring Redfern to life, to peaceful, happy co-existence. May Ted’s old parish and this domain be a symbol to the nation of hope, of humble reconciliation and forgiveness. Drain the poison from the waterholes, and the prejudice from our hearts.

Lord, hear us All: Lord, hear our prayer

Who would Father Ted have us remember before the Lord?
  • His devoted, gentle sister Marnie.
  • All the lovely girls, too numerous to name, who ministered to him, who attended him in his hour of need, through Pat Durnan must be recognised by name.
  • The Aboriginal brothers and sisters who made his life so meaningful and put muscle into his spirituality.
  • His many friends and companions who weep at his loss.
  • The owners of telephone companies who will certainly notice his passing.
  • The medicos and nurses who treated him tenderly, the sisters and staff of St Ezechiel Moreno who cared for him in his months of agony, in his hours of darkness, before whom we kneel in humble gratitude.
May their praises be sung in heaven before you, O Lord.

Lord, hear us All: Lord, hear our prayer

Finally we also remember the other members of the Kennedy family who have lived their lives and journeyed on to join the saints – Peg and Jack Kennedy, Celie, Dr John, Kath and Martha.

We recall Mum Shirl, and the smiling face of Ted’s friend Bob Bellear.

We remember with special affection the spirits of the many aboriginals, young and old, who were Ted’s brothers and sisters and whom he buried up and down the country.

May they all be granted a soft landing. May perpetual light shine on them. May they rest in peace.


Final Prayer

These are our wishes, Lord, and our prayers. We bring them before you and leave them down in your joyful presence in the hope that you will hear and answer them. We refer these wishes to you in the name of Jesus.


Chris Geraghty

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