When we first came to Sydney from Adelaide in 1968 several of our friends gave us advice about the Catholic Church in this city. In particular:
- to understand the Sydney Church read Tom Kenneally’s Three Cheers for the Paraclete; and
- make sure we get to know Ted Kennedy, if we wanted to see the Church as it really can be.
So many memories and reflections come crowding in as they have for everyone else, no doubt; the following are a few random ones:
Arriving at Redfern (St Vincent’s) for the first time was like coming home. I loved the "place" for being raw, earthy, sparse. I loved its gutsy Word, and its liberating unpredictability. I both loved and hated its dis-comforting challenges. I marvelled at the birds-in-residence.
When I go to the Redfern Church I feel that I am surrounded by many people of immense spiritual strength and independence. People of like mind and persuasion who follow the true intent of Jesus’ teaching – and lead their lives guided by their conscience rather than a doctrine. I feel at ease in the church and even though there is a city outside it is pretty peaceful.
After several years in the Redfern congregation: I have four main impressions:
In the middle of the 1970’s Mark Raper S.J., then Director of the Jesuit “Asian Bureau”, asked me to write an article on the links between contemplation and social awareness/action. Mark could have supposed that I might know something about contemplation, though that would have been a somewhat doubtful assumption. It is true that I had, been living a completely enclosed `contemplative” life for twelve years, before the changes f Vatican II brought our contemplative, Eucharistic life back to earth and back to an earthed theology of Eucharist. I wanted to write the article. I … Continue reading
My dad may have been a truck driver and a laundryman but he ran his service as a business and he kept his Bondi family in creature comforts. Good sheets and pyjamas were de rigueur. When I got to university, Ted as chaplain was a shock not just intellectually, but physically. As we became close friends we slept in the same room several times – in huts, at Newman Society camps, at Araluen, and so on. Ted seemed to have no concern for pyjamas. He dossed down in shorts, shirts, old coats, pants (still with … Continue reading
My earliest memories of St Vincent’s concern the church itself.
By late ‘71 I was back in Sydney after having done the rounds of “training” by the then policy of Conscription which took some of my peers off to their deaths or reduced them to a traumatised state in Vietnam. Others, like myself who were considered poor military material were given softer options. I mention this personal historical detail because I think that St Vincent’s offers a challenge in real life terms to anyone who is prepared to come to … Continue reading
To me, Redfern is a place where the Church is truly alive.
As you walk in, there is a feeling of the church belonging to all the people who go there; and as you attend the Eucharist, there is a feeling of involvement in the local church and in all the major spiritual and justice issues of the day in the wider Church and world.