Thoughts February 2005

Thoughts for the Month

The Jesus I know is no cold, hard Iron-Christ; nor does Jesus deserve to be reduced to smug, glib and uncompassionate irrelevancies when the real meaning of His love is what people need so desperately.

“Who is Worthy?” Ted Kennedy

Welcome to 2005. What wonderful celebrations we finished the year of 2004 with.

Who could forget the Sharing the Meal Christmas Party and the Liturgy of Christmas.

Below, a letter by Sr. Esmey which sums it up very well.

Living the Eucharist

In this year of the Eucharist what better way to put into practice the invitation of Pope John Paul 11 to live the Eucharist than the Christmas meal we have just celebrated at St Vincent’s Redfern.

The meal was served to some 250 – 300 people and a comparable number of hampers was distributed.

People from all over Sydney contributed directly or indirectly to this celebration thus making it an ecclesial event as well as a Eucharistic one.

The patience of people waiting in queues to be served was impressive given the numbers of people.

For me it brought to mind the fact that as Christians our living of the Eucharist begins in the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist and is incarnated and projected in our service of one another, especially those in need.

It also brought home to me the interdependence of all, the communion that exists among us, those who contributed to the celebration but were not physically present, those being served, and those serving.

Truly we can say of one another:

“This is my body, this is my blood”.

(Sr) Esmey Herscovitch, Redfern

Funeral of Aunty Judy Gundy

Friday, February 4th, 2005, marked a special occasion for St Vincent’s, Redfern.

We shared the deep grief of the Aboriginal Community at the funeral of Aunty Judy Gundy, known and loved by us since the “Presbytery Days. She was a respected elder, centre of her family and a mentor to many Aboriginal people around Redfern –Waterloo and beyond. It was impressive to see how many young Aboriginal people poured into the Church. Indeed it was like the ‘old days’ when time and time again Aboriginal people gathered in the Church to grieve the loss of loved ones. This was the first Aboriginal funeral since Ted’s departure nearly 3 years ago.

Judy loved the Church and wanted to be buried from St Vincent’s. Her family left no stone unturned to meet her wishes. Fr. John Ford, our long-time friend, led us in a beautiful and poignant ritual with many tributes from young and old.

Before leaving for the cemetery all were invited to generous refreshments prepared by the volunteers who lovingly provide ‘sharing the Meal’ twice a week. We thank each one of them for their faithful service.

Judy had asked that her New Testament be placed in the coffin with her. These well- fingered verses from her favourite Psalm 59 were read at the Liturgy.

“My God loves me and will come to me.
I will sing about your strength every morning
I will sing aloud of your constant love.
You have been a refuge for me,
a shelter in my time of trouble.
My refuge is God – The God who loves me.”

Before leaving for Botany cemetery the hearse was led by a police escort around the Block. May Aunty Judy continue to be a reconciling presence amongst us and may she enjoy eternal life.

Marnie Kennedy RSCJ

The Passing of a Long Time Friend –
Bruce Carroll

Friend of Ted Kennedy and a loved member of St. Vincent’s, Redfern. There can surely be not doubt about it. Bruce Carroll is now with God.

Born in 1953, (by chance in Leichhardt, Sydney) as the eldest of ten children of the late Bruce and Joan Carroll, Bruce was a man of the Bundjalung people and one of a great line of the Roberts family of the Lismore-Grafton area. His sister, Christine, confirms that their parents were earnest people; their father grew a vegetable garden, a trade learnt from Italian migrants in the Riverina, and he was a very strict disciplinarian; their mother always had a cleaning job for as long as she was physically able.

Bruce was a very intelligent person who loved to sit ‘n’ read “The Sydney Morning Herald,” immediately interested to discuss current issues and world affairs. He had been to a Mission school and was so proud of the fact that he attended all classes, never missing a day’s school in his life. He really enjoyed learning. His brother, John, also told us very recently that
Bruce was a lively, athletic youngster who, for instance, could lie on his back ‘pedalling his legs’ as John “spun” on them while turning somersaults.

During his early life, Bruce was placed in 13 different institutions, which, of course, left an indelible mark on his personal life.

There were too many interruptions in his education; as a child, there were also moves from black to white “Care”. Being an active Aboriginal boy in the 50’s, Bruce had the great misfortune of being ‘selected’ for boxing, travelling around annual country Shows. This destructive ‘sport’ no doubt contributed to Bruce’s brokenness, illness and wretched later life.

Some of the results of his early experiences were that he seemed to move in both Black and White worlds, but found it hard to feel accepted or comfortable in either, so that he became something of a hermit, a loner on the fringe of the fringes, carrying all the weight and oppressive effects of colonialism daily. He ‘walked’ a great restlessness, never able to stay anywhere for long, or, if he agreed to stay overnight, we woke in the morning to find him already up and gone.

It was wonderfull that he found his way to Ted’s Redfern presbytery, where he lived for a long time, and, later as he came to know Frank better, lived with him in Hordern St, Newtown. It was there that, when Frank was in NZ he looked after the ‘Twelve Tribes of Tamba’ in the form of Tamba’s twelve new pups – for which we were very grateful.

He was always willing to work, at times getting jobs but never ongoing or sustainable. He would take odd jobs and was always willing to lend a hand e.g. helping to load necessities for East Timor, or working part-time at the local fish’n chip shop. Like many in institutional care, he always wanted to please and loved to be in a position where he was told exactly what to do (even in the army) where he could fill all requirements. Life was so much simpler then.

Slowed up by illness and its related medication, Bruce found it hard to manage the conventions of everyday living – an enormous electricity bill in winter by leaving the oven door open all night for warmth! He would always listen carefully to the plentiful advice he sought, but needed a well-stepped plan. By keeping to Doctors’ advice over the years he became more coherent, at ease within himself, with his sense of humour more apparent. He even left off talking about a favourite subject, UFO’s!

A mark of his true sanity was his genuine wonder at the way whitefellas would get wound up about all kinds of ultimately unimportant matters.

His personal qualities were rich and many: an utter simplicity, acceptance without expectations, gentleness, a lack of guile, generosity (to a fault) with a soft spot for young teenagers and a difficulty to refuse those seeking shelter or companionship. He did not hold grudges or speak ill of anyone. He would take trips away to see his mother and family, and his pride and concern was always for his three children that they would be brought up well. Not long before Christmas, he shared with Marnie Kennedy that he felt happy with developments in his spiritual quest for God.

We became part of his ‘beat’, as he walked from Birchgrove to Redfern and back via Annandale. He never expected much or outstayed his welcome: originally oblivious of clock-time he would drop in at all hours, but gradually he arrived at more regular meal times, always appreciative and thankful. “See ya later, Bub”, he would say to Clare, as he left with a kiss, and we would really miss him if we didn’t see him for some time.

We miss him all the more now that he has left us as we wait for those extra long-‘n-loud doorbell rings. We feel sure that he has landed a place where all the best hearts are, and we hope to be in touch one day again – for we learnt so much from Bruce in the Emmaus moments of our cuppas.

Frank & Clare (Vavasour)

” There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Elie Wiseal
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