When I was nine years old, a man with a begging bowl chanced to cross my path as I walked through my home- town in
It is more than thirty years since Rhonda and I first visited
I attended mass at Redfern and listened for the first time to “Father Ted”. Unconditional love and acceptance permeated the church. I was deeply moved and challenged by Ted’s interpretation of the gospels and the purpose of existence. I felt a sense of “coming home” and a deep comfort in a place where difference is embraced. I ventured on safe in the knowledge that I was “right” because the gospel according to father Ted said so.
As time passed people came to Redfern. Some stayed. Some left. Some tried to change Redfern believing that Redfern was in some way impoverished. The church was painted, experiments were conducted from time to time and the community patiently waited. The “visitors” found their way and the community bounced back.
Time passed, Aboriginal people continued to welcome us and shared with us their pain and their too infrequent joy. I was humbled by my experience. So often I wondered at their tolerance and forgiveness. I sought answers to questions but none were forthcoming.
There were many gatherings on Christmas Day at
Time passed and our Aboriginal friends found other forums for “celebration”. The spirit if Redfern persists unchanged. It derives from the inspiration flowing from the legacy of suffering borne by Aboriginal people who have been physically and spiritually present at Redfern.
No favour is found in “our” community for privilege, permanence, status, power or wealth but simply from “difference”. We are all equal. We are all integral.
Thank you Father Ted for your love, your compassion and your sacrifice. Thank you Father Ted for teaching me to see the world that God envisaged. Thank you Father Ted for giving me the courage to face the daily round and to challenge. For the opportunities that I have had to be enriched by my Aboriginal friends, thank you Father Ted. Thank you Ted. Thank you and God Bless you.