Several weeks ago the church foyer was given a makeover – rough patches to damaged plaster, sloppily applied paint (traces of which may still be found on Ted’s portrait), and a brand new notice board (lockable, no doubt to protect the offensive notices so dear to the Neocat heart).
It appears that p.p. Mendes co-opted an inexperienced Neocat teenager from northern Australia to do much of the work.
Then just before Eileen’s funeral, the baptistry alcove was attacked with the same style and quality of workmanship, and paint was splashed on the baptismal font, hewn from Australian granite and commissioned by the late Fr Ted Kennedy. The stone came from a site revered in Aboriginal spirituality on Mt Gibraltar in the NSW Southern highlands. The sculpture was blessed and dedicated as a baptismal font. Not only did the young Neocat fail to cover the font before undertaking any work in the alcove, he sneeringly refused to accept that this could be a baptismal font at all when questioned about the spilt paint.
John G, a retired professional builder and restorer of heritage buildings, contacted Mendes immediately with the following advice:
The granite Baptistry in the alcove at the eastern side of the church is an artistic work commissioned as a Baptisimal font and was donated by the parishioners.
After the recent paintwork carried out in this area there is now paint on the granite surface.
I counsel you that the removal of this paint should only be carried out by a complete professional. If an amateur tries to do this it could permanently destroy the art work. The church has access to art restoration people, and it would be good if you consulted with them before attempting any cleaning restoration.
Please also note that the large antique white shell that was part of this art work and used to pour the water of Baptism is now missing.
On Sunday the font was found lying dismantled at the rear of the church. Hopefully it is awaiting professional attention.
Unfortunately the Neocat zeal for making "improvements" to the church did not stop there. In the past week the doors of the confessionals were stripped out and replaced with a blank wall, the main doors from the foyer into the church were removed for "refurbishment", the antique cast iron holy water font was given the now customary sloppy coat of paint, and an insensitively crafted gate was installed at the base of the stairs leading to the choir loft, with a hole drilled in the old cedar newel post to accommodate the bolt.
Gate at foot of stairs.
Freshly "painted" holy water font
Furthermore, it is Mendes’ stated intention to install toilets in the space occupied by the confessionals!
All this in a building that has a Sydney Council heritage listing, for which, according to the Archdiocese, no building approval has been given.
All of this without a single word of consultation with the community, which is dismayed at the destruction going on in its church.
Is this latest outrage a product of stupidity, ignorance, maliciousness or a subtle blend of the lot?
Perhaps a more apt title for this sad item would have been Letter to the Philistines.