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Fr Ted Kennedy

Reflections 1
Reflections 2
Reflections 3
Reflections 4
Reflections 5
Who is Worthy?
Letters from Ted

Mum Shirl

Her story

Recent Parish Priests

Pell's appointments
The Neocats
Our pastors

Interesting reading

Points of view

Visitors since 12 April 2004
  Church Mouse

The Church Mouse website now features a weblog - the Church Mouse Journal - to expedite the posting of news, and to allow readers to post comments.

Wanted: Jesus Christ on a good day (and more)
Morris West, April 4, 2005.

The late Morris West wrote numerous novels about the Catholic Church, including The Shoes of the Fisherman. This is an edited version of an article West wrote exclusively for the Herald in 1997, to be published on the death of the Pope. More...

More monologue than conversation
Veronica Brady, April 4, 2005.

On issues that are important to women, John Paul turned a deaf ear. More...

Pope John Paul II, a reactionary in shepherd's clothing.
Barry Healy, Green Left Weekly, April 6, 2005.


Karol Jozef Wojtya, known as John Paul II since assuming the office of pope in October 1978, will be remembered as one of the most significant, though certainly not the most progressive, figures in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. More...

From the depths to the heights
Bob Bellear, Judge, 1944-2005
Obituaries, March 17, 2005

Australia is called a classless society. But Bob Bellear, who has died at 60, did what few other Australians have done: he rose from the very bottom rung to the very top. Not just from working-class and rural origins but from Aboriginal deprivation to become Australia's first indigenous judge. More...

Holy spies to rate the vicars
March 16, 2005

How would St Vincent's rate?

British vicars rarely grumble about people joining their congregations, but a number might be dreading a visit next month by a "mystery worshipper" - the Church of England equivalent of the restaurant critic.

In an unprecedented move, as many as 100 specially recruited researchers will turn up incognito in pews across London on April 24 to judge the quality of the Sunday service on offer.

The volunteers, using pen names such as "Church Mouse" and "Dunelm" to protect their anonymity, will then post their verdicts on the Christian website at

The exercise has been inspired by the market research techniques of supermarket chains, which send mystery shoppers into their own stores to gather consumer feedback.

Churches will be judged on the warmth of the welcome, the length and content of the sermon, the music, and even the after-service coffee and the softness of the pews.

Mystery worshippers will also be asked to describe the moment that brings them closest to heaven and the moment closest to "the other place".

Ecclesiastical "Oscars" will be awarded in categories such as best sermon, best use of music and best overall church.

Simon Jenkins, the editor of the website, said: "Our volunteers go to a church they have never been to before and experience the service as an outsider.

"For the church being visited, the only clue is the calling card dropped discreetly into the collection plate, bearing the picture of a masked man in Lone Ranger pose."

The project began seven years ago and the 1000th report will be published next week on Palm Sunday. This is the first city-wide inspection.

The Telegraph, London


Issue 2/2004, a publication of the UTS Journalism program
Two articles by Jeremy Hartcher

No accord on inter-faith service

Parishioners at St Vincentís church in Redfern have been refused permission to hold an inter-faith service. The article includes comments attributed to Cardinal George Pell on the Redfern situation that some might consider defamatory.

After 30 years doors open on new centre

Sydney's Aboriginal Medical Service has waited thirty three years for a new centre in Redfern. It opened at the end of 2004 with the help of a major donation from a nun.

Two letters - Issue 26, 17 November 2004

from: Paul Denny, Traralgon, Vic 11 Nov

I am appalled at the treatment of parishioners in Redfern by Neo Catechumenate priests (see Issue #24 "Open letter by John Hill). The litany of abuse is very serious: rough bodily handling, inflicting pain, breach of trust, broken promises, ignoring pleas, lack of respect. It sounds very much like rape! How could the Archdiocese have failed to correct these abuses? How is collaboration between parishioners and clergy possible while this rape continues?

from: Rob Brian, via email, 12 November

Like John Hill [Issue #25] I am appalled at our Archbishop's treatment of the Aborigines at St Vincent's Parish in Redfern, Sydney. Instead of giving my usual donation to the Charitable Works Fund, which no longer supports the Sharing of the Meal project in Redfern, I have sent my money direct to the people who battle on to feed the hungry and help the needy. I urge my fellow Catholics to do the same.

Please see on how you can safely transfer money direct to this worthy project. When the CWF starts to become accountable to us who provide the money I may be prepared to reconsider my decision.

Bearing witness
Letters, November 11, 2004


I have shared in the St Vincent's parish community since 1971 when Father Ted Kennedy was appointed parish priest ("City's poor ask for whom Pell tolls", Herald, November 10), and totally reject being labelled a newcomer to the parish by the Sydney Catholic archdiocese spokesman.

The unfortunate incidents outlined in my open letter published by Online Catholics actually happened, and in most cases occurred in front of witnesses. These have been properly documented and can be fully substantiated.

John Hill, Turramurra, November 10.

City's poor ask for whom Pell tolls
November 10, 2004

Multi-faith services and meals for the poor have gone from Redfern's Catholic Church, writes Linda Morris.

Under the organ loft of St Vincent de Paul Church, latecomers fork through the remains of chicken stew and the crumbs of jam rolls while cheerful helpers chorus happy birthday for one of their own.

But the picture of good works at the twice-weekly meal for the poor belies simmering tensions between Catholic conservatives leading the Redfern parish and a diverse congregation with a reputation for social justice.

The new leaders of the church are accused of unchristian behaviour - of insulting an elderly nun and alienating the Aboriginal community with which the church has forged strong links.

In an open letter published in the e-magazine Online Catholics (see below), parishioner John Hill is the latest to warn of the "disintegration or even worse, the destruction of a parish" that for more than 30 years "has been a beacon of hope for social justice, the authentic Gospel teachings, the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and the rights of indigenous Australians".

The former priest has accused unnamed members of the clergy of unmannerly behaviour, of assaulting a parishioner for not quickly placing a host in his mouth, of telling an elderly nun she should look at herself in the mirror and of telling a parishioner she was in need of pyschological help.

The Sydney Catholic Archdiocese stands by the parish priests whom it says are "deeply committed to the mission", have been unfairly accused and have the support of the Archbishop, Cardinal George Pell. "They always endeavour to treat every member of the community with respect and courtesy, and do so in circumstances that are often quite difficult," a spokesperson told the Herald.

"The allegations made by a newcomer to the parish contain many errors of fact, including the allegation that a man was placed in a headlock when receiving communion, which is simply untrue."

Tensions surfaced after Father Ted Kennedy, the long-time parish priest who helped make the church a focal point for Redfern's Aboriginal community, stepped down to be replaced with followers of the highly conservative Neocatechumenal Way.

The movement, founded in the early 1960s in the slums of Madrid, aims to restore the ancient process of adult Christian initiation and, while admired for its Christian commitment and missionary zeal, it has been criticised for dividing parishes, and accused of secretiveness and authoritarianism.

The movement's strictures have collided with a church community that has embraced diversity in worship and welfare as an expression of Christian principles.

Paul Collins, a liberal Catholic commentator, says the neocats, as they are commonly known, are one of a handful of religious ecclesiastical movements to flourish under the John Paul II papacy and whose mission is to empower the laity to spread the Gospel.

Patriarchal in structure, their focus is on evangelism and building a closed community. The decision of the archdiocese to install the movement in Redfern, a church which had adopted an open approach to contemporary issues, was bound to be provocative.

"It was a disastrous action to do this because the Archdiocese of Sydney and ultimately Cardinal Pell had to know this was going to lead to terrible conflicts in the Redfern community, but also for the neocats who are totally unprepared for the complexities and sensitivities of the kind of mission that Kennedy was all about. There is a sense that they too have been placed in an impossible situation," says Collins.

The wrangling at St Vincent de Paul's has spilled over into debates about the use of church property, including the right of parishioners to hang a picture of the late Mum Shirl Smith, a co-founder of the first Aboriginal medical service and mother figure to many Aboriginal parishioners, behind the altar and the right of non-Catholic Aborigines to be buried by the parish priests.

St Vincent de Paul's multi-faith services, started after the sinking of the Siev-X, have been abandoned, parishioners say, and they fear their unrenovated presbytery ,which they want as a youth centre and residence for the parish priest, will be sold off.

The archdiocese denies any plans "at present" for parish property to be sold or redeveloped. "The archdiocese has recently sought professional advice as to the structural soundness of the existing buildings and will, along with the parish priest, be considering options for restoration consistent with the needs of the parish and local community."

The Archdiocesan Charitable Works Fund withdrew funds for the twice-weekly meal for the poor in June at, it said, the request of an "Aboriginal leader, who had concerns about safety and hygiene and also thought it was not helping the self-respect of the community".

The meal service survives on donations and the goodwill of a dozen volunteers. Helper Mary Mahon said she had been told the church was not an appropriate place to serve free meals. "We say there is no more appropriate place for it to be in than here if you really believe that Christ was here for the poor and the sick. There is no safer place."

Disaffected parishioners have assembled a dossier of their troubles on their website, Church Mouse, and are preparing a formal complaint, comprising nine statutory declarations, to take to Pell and a panel of senior clergy. Hill is not hopeful of reconciliation and says letters and petitions to Pell "about the deteriorating condition and the pain inflicted on the community at St Vincent's" have not been given due consideration.

Parishioner Jack Callaghan, among those who claim to have had a confrontation, is defiant. "The hope is we'll pack up and go but we'll stay on."


from: AN OPEN LETTER from John Hill, 1 Nov

I am writing as a parishioner of St. Vincent's Church, Redfern, NSW. I write with a deep sense of sadness and a feeling of depression. I am seeing the disintegration or even worse, the destruction of a parish that for over 30 years has been a beacon of hope for social justice, the authentic Gospel teachings, the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and the rights of indigenous Australians.

The legacy of an ailing Fr Ted Kennedy has been decimated. The assurance that the Archbishop of Sydney made to Fr Kennedy on his retirement that his work would be respected and continued, has been broken. It has been torn asunder.

When at a Sunday mass you see a Neo Catecumenate acolyte who has subsequently been ordained, head-locking an elderly gentleman for not putting the host into his mouth immediately or when you see another senior gentleman pushed roughly aside by a young priest, it means that the Eucharist has lost its significance.

When you see a Neo Catecumenate priest telling off an elderly nun, once in charge of the formation of religious nuns and priests for many years, that she should look at herself in the mirror, it demonstrates not only the lack of respect for another but the sheer disregard for basic Christian values.

From the pulpit this same priest admonished a female parishioner telling her that she was in need of immediate psychological help. He then turned to her husband and told him how he pitied him for being married to her. She is in fact of sound mind, courteous and respectful of the priests. She has been a backbone of what is left of the parish.

The Sharing of the Meal for the poor operated by parishioners and friends every Tuesday and Friday has had its funds cut off by the archdiocese on the premise that this work was not necessary and that it could be done as well by other organisations. The fact is that this sharing of the meal caters to over a hundred people each Tuesday and Friday. The parishioners themselves now fund this project. The Redfern clergy have discouraged this work saying that Protestants and Atheists can do it better. At the same time they have alienated the Aboriginal community by breaking down the trust that has been 30 years in the making.

The litany of insults relentlessly perpetrated by this priest on many parishioners continues unabated with the implicit condonation by the Church authorities as nothing has been done to redress the situation in Redfern. Letters and petitions to Cardinal Pell sent by parishioners and concerned clergy about the deteriorating condition and the pain inflicted on the community at St. Vincent's have not been given due consideration to ease the concerns of the parishioners.

Priests support the 43 prominent Australians

One hundred Catholic priests, meeting at the biennial Conference of the National Council of Priests of Australia (at Toowoomba QLD 6th - 10th September 2004) added their voice to the 43 prominent Australians and the group of doctors calling for truth and integrity in public life.

The priests built upon the concerns raised by the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference in August, when the ACBC advised Australians to consider their voting intentions in the light of the building of a 'culture of care'.

The National Council of Priests questioned why Australia tolerates significant inequalities in health, unacceptable poverty and an increasing prison population.

"If we are to continue to call Australia home, a place of belonging, a place of welcome and a safe haven, we need to ask why these injustices continue unabated," the priests said in a statement.

While acknowledging the absence of Aboriginal Catholic Clergy as a specifically Catholic problem, the NCP spoke out strongly about the lack of inclusion of Aboriginal people in Australian society.

"We, the National Council of Priests, call on our leaders to work for a just and equitable Australia where from our first peoples in this land to our most recent arrivals and all in between all will call Australia home." The priests affirmed their commitment to multiculturalism and an inclusive approach in Australian life and society.

Many priests from all over Australia expressed concern that events in Redfern, Sydney, are damaging to the Church and have implications for Aboriginal people and their relationship with the Church. Redfern parish, which was led by the visionary Catholic priest Fr Ted Kennedy for 30 years, is now in the hands of clergy of the Neo Catechumenate Way.

The National Council of Priests also expressed criticism toward policies and candidates who supported the doctrine of a pre-emptive strike. They urged Australians to demand that any future decision to go to war be fully debated in Parliament before action was taken. The NCP called for every Australian elector to consider the following questions before casting their votes:

  • Will the candidate support increased overseas economic aid from Australia to help rebuild Iraq and other countries in need?
  • How might the candidate ensure that future decisions about war are fully debated in Parliament?
  • Will the candidate reject the spreading of the doctrine of a pre-emptive strike, and commit to strengthening the system of international government?

The statement was signed by 100 priests present at the National Convention of the NCP and included:

Fr Peter Brady (Loganholme)
Fr Henry Byrne (Mossy Point)
Fr Dennis Carroll (Lismore)
Fr Michael Cooney (Goondiwindi)
Fr Tyson Doneley (Toowoomba)
Fr Peter Dorfield (Toowoomba)
Fr Paul Finucane (Hornsby)
Fr Francis Gilbert (Nth Rockhampton)
Fr Paul Hanna (Blackheath)
Fr Terry Hicklng (Crows Nest)
Fr Timothy Hogan (Toongabbie)
Fr Robert Hollow (Blackall)
Fr Gerald Iverson (Wentworthville)
Fr John MacGinley (Tara)
Fr Rod MacGinley (Pittsworth)
Fr John Maher (Roma)
Fr Frank Marriott (Wodonga)
Fr Peter Matheson (Montmorency)
Fr Martin Maunsell (Lane Cove)
Fr Paul McCabe (Moree)
Fr Peter McCarthy (Capalaba)
Fr Ian McGinnity (Quakers Hill)
Fr William Moore (Toongabbie)
Fr Don Murray (Allora)
Bishop Patrick Power (Canberra)
Fr Hal Ranger (Dalby)
Fr John Scarrott (Moorooka)
Fr Jeff Scully (Quilpie)
Fr John Swan (Kensington Gardens)
Fr Paul Tarpey (Boorowa)
Fr Bernie Thomas (Mulwala)
Fr Greg Trythall (Grovedale)
Fr Lino Valente (Inglewood)
Fr John Cunningham (Ivanhoe)

See also:

National Council of Priests
Bishops' electoral statement

Pell's conservatism adds fuel to the fire of Catholic disharmony
August 3, 2004

Australian Catholics are at odds over how to practise their faith in the modern world, writes Paul Collins.

Cardinal George Pell has trouble on his hands in inner Sydney. Yesterday a leading conservative priest, Father Terence Purcell, of St Benedict's parish Broadway, was protesting because the Cardinal wants to turn his disused school building into a campus for Notre Dame University, which Pell wants to import from Fremantle.

One wonders why Notre Dame has to come to Sydney when the Australian Catholic University has campuses in North Sydney and Strathfield.

Pell has also been a leading light in the foundation of Campion College, a liberal arts-theology faculty to be established soon in Parramatta diocese.

Also there is the Catholic Institute of Sydney, which specialises in theology. That will mean four Catholic universities in greater Sydney, which is surely enough for anyone.

Yesterday Purcell claimed that his inner-city parish was "up in arms" about the changes ushered in by Pell. But his is not the only one. In Redfern there is a struggle going on for the soul of St Vincent's parish. The community there was revolutionised when Father Ted Kennedy arrived in the 1970s. He developed it into a welcoming haven for Aborigines and other marginalised people. It is now largely run by lay people, who provide and support a range of needed social services.

The church building is the heart of the Redfern community, and until now Aboriginal and white parishioners have had some influence over how St Vincent's operates. Many Catholics come there because they feel involved in a Sunday Mass that gives expression to their commitment to the church. They have a sense of owning the parish.

All of this is changing, however. Kennedy is ill. Pell has handed the parish over to a group called the Neo-Catechuminate, Neo-Cats for short, two of whose priests recently arrived in the parish.

Their vision of ministry is very different from Kennedy's. They see the church building as the place for Mass and worship, not for welfare activities or discussion groups. Neo-Cats believe that most Catholics are merely nominal, un-churched, in need of long formation within a closed group. Articulate, non-Neo-Cat laity need to be kept in their place.

The new arrivals have been accused of being culturally insensitive to Aborigines. To put it mildly, there is tension at St Vincent's.

Yet Redfern is a microcosm of what is happening right across Australian Catholicism and within theology. Two different visions of what it means to be Catholic have emerged. The key questions are about how the church should respond to contemporary society and deal with religious difference.

Many Catholics think the church as a whole should adopt something like the Kennedy-Redfern model, open to the secular world, talking to it, finding areas where people of goodwill can co-operate to improve society.

Sure, Catholicism should critique what is wrong with society, but never in a way that alienates. Genuine Catholicity is the antithesis of sectarianism.

Pell has articulated a different view. He believes the church should be more confrontational in tackling secular values and asserting absolute truth. He says one of the functions of a bishop is to try to ensure that the fullness of Catholic faith is taught, that it has been a temptation for 20 years or more to try to improve the situation of the church by going silent on some aspects or underplaying other challenges.

In a recent lecture he was critical of Catholics who want to make the church more "acceptable" to the spirit of the age, especially those who use the enabling mechanism of the primacy of conscience. By this he means that some Catholics use the doctrine of freedom of conscience to espouse secular values and to pick and choose what they believe.

Many feel his approach is problematic, and whether everything he presents as Catholic doctrine is indeed that is debatable.

Some Catholics have spent years initiating dialogue with society by presenting belief in reasonable terms, looking for agreements, making faith part of mainstream discussion. But along comes Pell, boots and all, saying that Catholics need a style a mite more confrontational and certainly less conciliatory towards secular values.

The cross is a sign of contradiction.

Sure, but it is also a sign of the vulnerability of God, of redemption, of Jesus' life poured out for others.

Pell now has multiple groups of Catholics off-side, from the traditionalist Purcell to the theologically progressive Redfern community. Clergy from across the Catholic spectrum are also dissatisfied with Pell's approach.

But the Cardinal's trump card is that the theological divisions are so deep that it is unlikely that Catholics will get together and co-operate to resolve disputes more amicably.

Which is a pity because Catholics do need to find some common ground to begin to talk to each other again, as well as to talk to the wider Australian society. The boots-and-all approach never really works.

Paul Collins's most recent book is Between the Rock and a Hard Place: Being Catholic Today (ABC Books).



Encounter: 25 July  2004  - Poor Church


The Religion Report: 28 July  2004 - St. Vincent's Redfern

Redfern pleas for intervention

A plea for intervention by Cardinal Pell in the increasingly fraught situation in the Aboriginal parish of St Vincent's, Redfern, was apparently withheld from him for two months.

Br Michael Gravener, a St John of God Brother and a social worker at the Block, wrote to the Cardinal in April. Br Gravener believes that Aboriginal people are being denied basic justice by a model of ministry offered by the Diocesan Neo-Catechumenate priests. "There is a failure to acknowledge Aboriginal spirituality by our current parish priests, and a lack of understanding that to Aboriginal people, St Vincent's Catholic Church is itself is a sacred place. This is so because of St Vincent's was where many of the Stolen Generation came from the missions to find their families. Many of them also died here - some literally in the Church buildings where they stayed when they had no where else to go."

Br Gravener eventually received a response from the Cardinal's private secretary, Dr Michel Casey. Dr Casey indicated that the view of the Archdiocese was that constructive dialogue must include the current reality of the incumbent priests at Redfern. Dr Casey also indicated that Br Gravener's Superior, Br Peter Burke, would be asked to counsel Br Gravener over the matter.

Br Gravener told Online Catholics that the tensions at Redfern show the truth of Pope John Paul II's observations about the Catholic Church in Australia. Back in 1986, in an address to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Alice Springs, the Holy Father said:

You are part of Australia and Australia is part of you. And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others. Br Gravener said, "there is a lot of criticism over our attempt to continue the work of Fr Ted Kennedy. Some people say that we should just get over that 'Ted Kennedy theology'. But Ted's real legacy is to Gospel values: 'whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do to me.' The way the Catholic Church in Australia responds to Aboriginality will reveal the depth of our commitment to those same values."

Just before going to press, Online Catholics was contacted by Michael Casey. He reports that the Cardinal is well aware of the letters from Br Gravener, which are regarded as "vexatious". The Cardinal, he says, is involved in the efforts to bring peace to Redfern, a situation that is "improving".

What these efforts are, and what improvements have resulted, are not known.

Bishops fail to respect Aboriginal culture, spirituality

Australian Bishops have failed to show regard for Aboriginal people by refusing a request to draft Guidelines for Clergy who work with indigenous Australians, according to Sr Marnie Kennedy, rscj.

Marnie Kennedy is the sister of the now ailing Fr Ted Kennedy, who was parish priest at St Vincent's Catholic Church in Redfern, Sydney, for 30 years. Her statement comes as a response to the decision by the recent Bishops' Conference to turn down a request from that parish, which was directed to the Secretary of the Bishops' Committee for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, Bishop Brian Heenan.

In a letter dated 14 March 2004, the Redfern community asked Bishop Heenan if the Committee would consider introducing Guidelines for Clergy who work with indigenous people. There have been national Guidelines for Religious who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people since 1999. The letter to Bishop Heenan says, in part: " would seem opportune for the bishops to advance similar Guidelines for Priests in Ministry with Indigenous peoples, especially given the current new situation where many priests are beginning to arrive from overseas countries to work in Australia."

It is understood that Bishop Heenan's committee did put the request to the Bishops' Conference, but that at the plenary session it was decided to turn down the proposal. Each diocese would be left to deal with issues between indigenous people and priests individually. Neither Bishop Heenan nor fellow Committee member, Broome's Bishop Saunders, were available to speak with Online Catholics following the Conference.

Speaking exclusively to Online Catholics, Sr Marnie said: "I would like to pose this question to the Bishops, and indeed the whole Catholic community. Why has there been no Aboriginal priest ordained since Pat Dodson left ordained ministry some 20 years ago? Every other major denomination has ministers of an indigenous background, but not the Catholic Church."

Tensions at Redfern have been high, particularly since the appointment of the second Neo-catechumenate priest, Fr Dennis Sudla, to work along side parish priest Fr Gerry Prindiville. "Any priest sent to minister to Aboriginal people should be open to their culture and spirituality, rather than imposing a western pattern of Christianity," Sr Marnie said. "This calls for growing trust through friendship, willingness to undertake Aboriginal studies, guidance from the elders and a genuine desire to learn from them."

At stake is the whole question of inculturation, which is to do with ensuring the Gospel may be explored within particular cultural experiences. "Unless there is a commitment from every Diocese in Australia to the Gospel imperative of inculturation, there will be no Aboriginal Catholic Clergy.

"It is most unfortunate that the Bishops have failed to take this opportunity to establish a proper framework in the best interests of both Aboriginal people and Roman Catholic clergy." Sr Marnie said.

Note from the Church Mouse:

The St Vincent's community made available copies of the following documents to the Bishops' Committee for Indigenous Affairs prior to their National Conference in Sydney in May, 2004.

AKEHURST, Douglas D.(c.m.) "Redfern. A Prophetic Community?"
A Research Project Towards a Graduate Diploma in Theology
United Theological Institute: Nov., 1989

ANDERSON, Karen Open Letter to the local NeoCatechumenate Communities
(at St.Nicholas of Tolentino, Bristol, England. Spring, 1992)

ARBUCKLE, Gerald A.(sm) "Is the Neo-Catechumenate Way Compatible with Religious Life?"
Religious Life Review. Dublin: Jan-Feb., 1994
Reviewed and reprinted, 2004

COONEY, Paul (Fr.) (sm) NeoCatechumenate Community
Archdiocese of Melbourne, Report of Activity in one parish

MAHER, Peter (Fr.) "Cross Currents at Redfern"
The Swag. March, 2004

"Reclaiming our Right to Wholeness." A Statement
[From the Conference of the Women from Indigenous Communities in Asia and the Pacific; Chiang Mai, Thailand. Sep., 2003]

Guidelines for Appointment of Religious to Ministry with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People prepared by a Sub-committee of the Founding Forum in consultation with ACLRI Aboriginal Issues Task Force, 1999

Resurrection of parish woe

Vanessa Walker, 12 April 2004

THE Catholic congregation at St Vincent's church in Sydney's Redfern has little to celebrate this Easter.
Members of the nation's largest Aboriginal congregation are embroiled in a dispute over theology and the liturgy with their priest and his conservative order, the Neocatechumenal Way.
Most parishioners, who for 30 years prospered under the care of social justice advocate Father Ted Kennedy, are committed to the liberal reforms of the Second Vatican Council They believe Christ's love is expressed through a direct relationship with the disadvantaged people of Redfern.
Father Gerry Prindiville, appointed in 2002 after the congregation had his predecessor dismissed for alienating them, believes in the traditions of Catholicism and the uniformity of the liturgy.
Many parishioners believe he was appointed to bring St Vincent's into line with the conservative Archdiocese of Sydney under Cardinal George Pell.
In the lead-up to Easter, disaffected members of the congregation launched a website,, which covers their disputes with the priest.
They accuse Father Prindiville of refusing communion to outspoken parishioners and say he disregards practices such as community members joining the priest in the Washing of the Feet.
Father Prindiville says such innovations are aberrations of the liturgy and that much of what is published in emails and on the website is "innuendo and lies".
Congregation member Brother Michael Gravener wrote to Cardinal Pell this week asking him to intervene in "a serious abuse of clerical power".
"Your clerics have been nothing short of incompetent," he wrote. "People have been both physically and verbally attacked by your clerics and have been judged and denied the Eucharist."
The archdiocese refused to comment.

Footnote by Church Mouse:
Gerry Prindiville removed himself from the community's email group on April 12




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