recent events may be viewed here
4 April 2005
Morsel munchers might
like to have a look at the Troppo
Armadillo weblog, which offers "Musings on
law, politics, society and life from blogdom's cross-disciplinary
post-moral majority". Included are several discussions
on topics of particular interest: Fractured
Communion? and Pell
Pot's 'democratic' vision.
18 March 2005
little bit of paint goes a long way
Gripped with Easter
fervour, Prindiville and Sudla have this week indulged
themselves in a little church redecorating. Their redoubtable
DIY skills may be admired, not so much on the wall behind
the altar where they focussed their attention, but in
the paint splashes and smudges on the sacred Kiko carpet,
and even, to Naoami Myers chagrin, outside the church
on the Aboriginal Medical Service's path and plants.
Appropos of which, have you heard the one about the
A painter had just finished painting
the interior of a church and was getting ready to
pack up and leave, when the parish priest came out
and asked him to also paint the exterior. The painter
agreed to do so, but soon realized that he did not
have enough paint to finish the whole job. He also
realized that if he thinned out what he had left he
might just be able to do it. Anyway, he completed
painting the outside of the church, when a sudden
rain storm came out of the clear sky. The rain fell
only on the church, washing away all the still wet
paint, and a voice boomed out of the sky.... "Re-paint
23 February 2005
of the Way
It would seem that Neocats,
like many other creatures, are predisposed to marking
out what they consider to be their territory.
Time and time again our pastors have
insisted that St Vincent's is not a Neocatechumenal
Church. Last week a large sign was fixed to the Redfern
Street facade of the old church, emblazoned with Kiko's
Madonna, the unmistakable sign of the Way [see Icons
of the Neocatechumenal Way].
The community had not been consulted.
Back in April 2004, a carpet
appeared beneath and behind the altar, without consultation
and to the consternation of the community. A very similar
carpet is to be found in the Good
Shepherd Parish in Kelmscott Perth Western Australia.
Earlier this month (February, 2005)
Fr Eric Skruzny officiated at a 10:00am Sunday mass
at St Vincent's. After mass he was asked about the significance,
if any, of these carpets and their design to the Way.
Fr Eric adopted the familiar Neocat ploy of speaking
without answering the question, even managing to slip
in a criticism.
We have been uncharitable, he chastised,
in our criticism of our pastors, but would not be drawn
on the issue of their uncharitable behaviour towards
the community, especially the Aboriginals in the area
who feel they are treated as lepers by the Neocats.
He also declined to talk to us about
the Neocatechumenal Way; his parting words were - "I
am not a spokesperson for the Neocatechumenates".
Eric Skruzny is the inaugural rector of the Pagewood,
Sydney Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary;
he was previously vice rector and dean of studies for
Perthís Redemptoris Mater Seminary, the first in Australia,
when it opened in 1994.
21 February 2005
are they that mourn
Blessed are they that mourn, for they
shall be comforted
For more than 3 decades St Vincent's
Church, Redfern has offered comfort to grieving Aboriginal
families who came, far too often, to bury their loved
After Ted Kennedyís departure, the
various priests appointed to the parish have alienated
the Aboriginal community to the point where, in the
words of one of their spokespeople, they are made to
feel as lepers in their own Church. You can imagine
the grief felt by the whole St Vincent's Community when
it was made clear by Neocat priests Prindiville and
Sudla that only "card carrying Catholics"
could be buried from the Church. [Is
he always like that?]
On Friday, 4 February 2005, Fr John
Ford officiated at the first Aboriginal funeral held
at St Vincentís since Tedís departure nearly 3 years
ago, leading us in a poignant ceremony in true Aboriginal
Aunty Judy Gundy, respected elder and
part of our community for over 30 years, broke through
the barriers with her dying wish to be buried from the
Church that so many Aboriginal people look upon as their
own. The Gundy family spared no effort to ensure that
her wish was fulfilled. [Sr
Marnie Kennedyís account of the funeral]
Within a week we had the funeral of
a young Aboriginal woman, Michelle Riley. Again several
hundred people poured into the Church in response to
a young life that had poured out so much love. Again
Fr John Ford officiated.
Many expressed gratitude to be coming
home to the old Church.
May the doors of St Vincent's never
again be closed to Aboriginal people.
21 December 2004
spirit of Christmas
Which parish priest blew
his stack on Monday morning because he felt that the
church was in such a mess he couldn't say mass there,
and would not do so until it was tidied up? Probably
the same one that angrily declared there would be no
more Christmas parties for the poor in "his"
church, or the one that was too busy "having his
lunch" to discuss what on earth he was on about.
The rear of the church beneath the
choir loft was decorated, and hampers, donated by numerous
Sydney parishes, were carefully arranged at the other
end of the church after Sunday's mass, in readiness
for Tuesday's Sharing the Meal Christmas mass and luncheon.
In deference to the parish priest, the volunteers placed
the 200 or so Christmas hampers [photo
2] out of the way, even though the average priest
would have been overjoyed with such an offering to the
poor around his altar.
This extraordinary outburst left the
already over-stressed Sharing the Meal organisers uncertain
not only about the planned mass, but even whether they
would be permitted to use the church at all for the
Thank God that some semblance of sanity
prevailed on the day, and Gerry turned up to say the
9:00am mass for a congregation of 25 or 30.
Gerry's assistant Dennis Sudla was
in the congregation. After mass, as he left the sacristy,
he was confronted by the elderly, irrepressible Jack
Callaghan, who asked "And when are you going to
apologise to Marnie and the other women of the parish
that you have abused?" Sudla glared at Jack, twice
spat some unintelligible words at him, then used his
finger to make an obscene gesture before heading past
the altar. Jack followed with more questions, whereupon
Gerry intervened, angrily stamped his feet on the floor
and told Jack that it was none of his business. He then
grabbed Sudla by the arm, insisting that they leave.
Len De Lorenzo, standing nearby taking photos of the
hampers, witnessed the entire performance, and followed
the unruly procession with his camera. He too was treated
to Sudla's single finger salute as these noble pastors
left the church premises.
"I am the parish priest. I can do as I like."
Postscript: Approximately 300 Christmas
lunches were served yesterday. It was a great success.
The parish priest and his assistant did not attend.
See photos here.
29 November 2004
Our Neocat pastors regularly include
the following advertisement in The Saving Word handout
Attention Married Conples
Is "listening" an area of your relationship
where you'd like to develop better skills for yourself?
Would you like to experience a deeper level of being
listened to by your spouse? A marriage Encounter weekend
gives you the opportunity to explore your listening
Contact Bill and Ardell Sharpe 4283 3435
Perhaps the community would like to consider taking
up a collection to pay for GP and DS - not to mention
some of their mates further up the hierarchy - to explore
their listening and relationship skills?
12 November 2004
"Every day people are straying
away from the church and going back to God."
Lenny Bruce (1923-1966)
from The Gonzagan, Weekly Newsletter of St Aloysius'
College, Issue 33 / 4 November 2004
9 October 2004
Moved to the Neocriticism
Some excerpts from the minutes of the
National Council of Priests Meeting in September.
There was ongoing concern about reports of the lack
of pastoral sensitivity by the Neo-Catechmenate priests
There was particular concern about the decision to discontinue
provision of a weekly meal and the withdrawal of the
payment of $220 per week from the CWF that assisted
outreach to the poor and needy of the community.
Several parish communities in the Deanery have been
supporting various initiatives at Redfern and the concern
There was a perception in the Catholic community that
considerable funds were available to promote certain
issues, to employ staff and to set up new agencies in
the Archdiocese but no funds were available to continue
support for those in need.
Mgr Rayner noted that:
- the decision to cease handouts at the Redfern centre
had been made at the request of one of the aboriginal
elders in the Redfern community;
- approximately $292000 was allocated to aboriginal
ministry by the Archdiocese;
- very few Catholics lived in Redfern parish;
- most who attended mass there were from outside the
Sunday 26 September 2004
Justice Sunday at St Vincent's
church was packed today for the 10am mass. Had all these
people come to express solidarity with the St Vincent's
Well, not quite. Social Justice Sunday
was totally ignored by our parish priests. Instead,
scores of Neocats were bussed in from near and far for
a "Parish Feast". There were even mini-buses
from the ACT and Victoria.
Last Sunday, in an underwhelming gesture
of inclusivity, Gerry issued a vague Clayton's invitation
to the Community to attend a picnic after mass to celebrate
the feast of St Vincent de Paul, at the same time declining
to provide any information regarding time, location
It would seem that Gerry's Neocat rent-a-crowd
had access to the details well in advance.
Sunday 29 August 2004
word according to Gerry
Prayers of the Faithful
The priest and he alone decides if
the prayers of the faithful are to be opened up to the
congregation and he decides when the prayers are to
be concluded. There is no right to publicly express
your own private prayers at Mass. Whenever you are invited
to pray it is not necessary to give explanation or introductions
to your prayer. God knows what you are praying for.
The prayer need to be brief and to the point. This is
now the practise[sic] in this parish irrespective of
what has happened in the past.
Tuesday 24 August 2004
First the Nazis went after the Jews, but I wasn't
a Jew, so I did not react.
Then they went after the Catholics, but I wasn't
a Catholic, so I did not object.
Then they went after the workers, but I wasn't
a worker, so I did not stand up.
Then they went after the Protestant clergy,
and, by then, it was too late for anyone to stand
Pastor Martin Niemoeller
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men [people] to do nothing.
A reminder from The Sydney Jewish Museum - thanks
to Maire Irish
Tuesday 24 August 2004
on you, Fr John Crothers
John Crothers, parish priest
of St Declan's, Peakhurst and Penshurst, in southwest
Sydney has bravely spoken out against Pell's leadership
style in a letter to Online Catholics last week. The
letter from which the following paragraphs were taken
may be read here.
The fundamental problem with this sort of conservative
leadership style is that it is exclusive and inflexible.
Its exclusiveness expresses itself in an "us
and them" mentality. I think this is one of the
main reasons for the current low morale among the
Sydney priests. Many feel that they are "on the
outer" because their model of church does not
correspond to the highly conservative model that is
being pushed at the moment.
The inflexibility of this particular model of
leadership is expressed in the way the institution
is seen as more important than the people in it. The
gluten-free host issue is a typical example. I simply
cannot understand how bishops can argue that this
is what Jesus would want. Jesus' way of ministering
was anything but rigid and institutionalised. He focussed
on people, rather than laws. In particular he was
always inclusive, rather than exclusive. I feel that
many of our Church leaders need to reassess the current
model of Church leadership in the light of Jesus'
own style of leadership.
The issue was also taken up by the Sydney Morning Herald
with articles on Monday
Let us pray that more of the good men out there find
the courage to make a stand with Fr John.
Sunday 20 August 2004
at St Vincent's
The scriptures suggest that a balanced
relationship between faith and its expression in good
works might not be such a bad thing.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says
he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith
save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear
and has no food for the day, and one of you says to
them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,"
but you do not give them the necessities of the body,
what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does
not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say,
"You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate
your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate
my faith to you from my works. James 2:14-18
The Church Mouse is not sure that Dennis (water
is a symbol of death) Sudla agrees.
No doubt guided by the same theology that inspired
Gerry Prindiville on more than one occasion to say about
All they need to know is that Jesus loves them
Sudla loudly proclaimed in his homily that faith without
works is dead, but good works without faith - i.e. working
for social justice and the poor - are doubly dead.
Various members of the community walked out of the
church in disgust, while others interjected, objecting
to this blatant attack against Ted Kennedy's legacy
and the community's values. On the other hand, the Neocats
in the congregation were appalled at the intense display
of antipathy towards THE PRIEST,
to whom unconditional respect and obedience is due.
Later during the Mass, Sudla graciously allowed extra
time when his attention was drawn to the fact that the
faithful had a few more prayers than he was initially
prepared to tolerate.
(PS: according to the hyperdictionary:
Antipathy - [n] the object of a feeling of intense aversion;
something to be avoided; "cats were his greatest
Monday 2 August 2004
that Sydney's second Catholic university - the University
of Notre Dame - is to open at St Benedict's on Broadway
was attended by the likes of George Card Pell, Brendan
Nelson, Mon Brian Raynor and the Prime Minister John
Howard. The Church Mouse's observers noted food tables
at the reception laden with wine and snacks.
There is apparently no shortage of money to feed the
rich and powerful.
Friday 30 July 2004
It's been a hectic week trying
to keep the mouse house in order with St Vincent's in
the spot light - two ABC radio programs, articles in
the online Catholic media and a swag of emails. Over
700 visitors, viewing on average 5 web pages each, have
come here since Sunday. If you missed the fuss, here
are transcripts of Radio National's Encounter
Responses to the broadcasts, especially the news revealed
on the Encounter program that the Sydney Archdiocese
Charitable Works Foundation has withdrawn its meagre
funding of the community's Sharing of the Meal may be
Incidentally, 180 people were fed at last Tuesday's
7 July 2004
Moved to the Neocriticism
Friday 2 July 2004
Roman Catholic Movement
Another message from San
Vincent's, Redfern Parishioners:
In the U.S.,
Roman Catholics have plenty of problems caused by
Roman Catholic priests selling out to clericalism.
The situation at St. Vincent's, however, surpasses
the worst U.S. parish mess.
in the U.S. the worst clericalism results in the closure
of the parish and the sale of the church buildings.
The land under most urban U.S. Roman Catholic churches
has usually appreciated greatly in value.
be very unusual in the U.S. for so much effort to
establish a community, Neo-Catechumenate, that a diverse
group of people, racial and social, have no interest
in joining. Why bother, why not just close the parish
and sell off the property? Would the selling off of
the property of St. Vincent's, Redfern be too obvious
a real estate windfall for the Sidney Archdiocese?
I think such
clericalism results in dead ends. To quote Mum Shirl:
"My Grandfather always liked to travel in a straight
line. He stayed away from the white folks' roads and
railway lines, for he said to follow them was the
fastest way to end up lost."
to correspond by e-mail with anyone in Australia seriously
interested in promoting Mum Shirl's story and her
faith in Mad Roman Catholicism. Perhaps, it is time
to spread her story beyond the continent of Australia.
being supressed in not just that of the community
of St. Vincent's, Redfern. The witness being supressed
is the presence in the Communion of Saints of Shirley
who was visiting San Francisco in late March 2004
referred me to some Australian Roman Catholic web
sites. It seems fanatical clericalism is causing similar
problems in all countries where two conditions exist.
The majority of lay Roman Catholics have access to
continuing education, and the clerics not the laity
own the Roman Catholic church buildings. Arguments
about the direction of the Roman Catholic Church then
2004, I came across your web site and was astounded
by Shirley Smith's picture. What a memorable face!
Only recently I found that Redfern had been the site
of significant aboriginal riots in Feburary 2004.
Mum Shirl had an adult older brother, Jimmy, who died
impaled. He fell from a veranda while sleep walking.
As Mum Shirl said, "I can still listen when it
helps, and I do, and I can still learn, and I do that
too." Maybe she's still listening.
Bet the entire
church of St. Vincent de Paul on Mum Shirl.
Kathy H (firstname.lastname@example.org
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