Fr Ted Kennedy & the Redfern community

As I was gathering my thoughts to compose an introduction to my reflection on Fr Ted and St Vincent‘s Redfern, two things struck me in regard to the simple title of this piece that I had just written.

1. "Fr Ted Kennedy" – How often do we mention Ted’s surname, or even his title "Father"? Our traditional way of addressing him is "Ted" or "Fr Ted". I would think that this is a very natural instinct and indication of the intimacy of our relationship with him, of his attitude for a “fair go” for all of us, and a sense of being comfortable in his presence.

2. "Redfern Community" – Most Catholic Christian churches are called "parishes". I have never heard of Redfern being referred to as a “parish’. All of us, black and white, rich and poor, catholic or otherwise, intelligent or dull, sane or insane, gay or straight, or “anything else” – we are all welcome in this Community.

Actually, my experience of "Redfern" is only over the past six years and so my actual association with Ted is probably not so close as many others in the community. However, his spirit, vision and influence is so strong that it has a life of its own, and will continue to do so for many years to come. Somehow Ted has given the people of Redfern the freedom to belong in whatever capacity is theirs to become, and for whatever reason they have found themselves committed to the ethos of Redfern. I have been touched by his graciousness and respect of me, and all who belong to the community.

My own personal contribution to the community is one of compassion and creativity. Fr Ted has always encouraged me in who I am and what I have to give. It always amazes me that he remembers me, knows me, and calls me by name each time I see him, and yet probably I am one of the few in the community who has not spent a lot of time personally with him. Actually, there are very many people who have told me that they also appreciate this quality in Ted. To me it seems that the foundations laid by Ted, through his compassion, great scholarship, passion for the underdog, his humanity, and most of all his love of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, and his faith and love of God, are all wrapped up together to give our Community its life-force, and great determination in issues local and abroad of Justice and Peace based on the teachings of Jesus.

Father Ted, I am very grateful to be able to come to a Church where there is a large amount of freedom to consider and to be involved in real issues, of real people, in the present moment – to meet and feel Jesus in this 21st Century. By the grace of God we will be faithful to the gift of your spirit in Redfern. You already know that we are putting in a pretty good effort, and, our hope is to fulfil the dreams you have had for this Community over many years.

Deep peace
of the running wave to you

Deep peace
of the flowing air to you

Deep peace
of the quiet earth to you

Deep peace
of the shining stars to you

Deep peace
of the gentle night to you

Moon and stars pour out
their healing light to you

Deep peace to you.

With love and gratitude

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