The funeral of Aboriginal Elder, Betty Roberts, was held at St Mary’s Church Erskineville on 17th March.
On March 12th, her family – two daughters, Gail and Lynn, with daughter-in-law Dianne Wittaker – and Sr. Mary, visited Fr. Gerry Prindiville to request that she be buried from St Vincent’s Church, Redfern, with Fr. John Ford officiating. Her son, shot dead in a Forbes St. hotel some 12 years ago, was buried from St Vincent’s.
G: Are you Catholics?
Family: (looking shamed) No.
G: Is the deceased a Catholic?
G: How can she be buried from a Catholic Church when she’s not a Catholic?
Sr. Mary: All they are asking for is that their mother be buried from the Aboriginal Church where so many Aboriginal people have been buried over many years.
As they stood outside the door, two clerical heads appeared behind G. One of them belonged to Fr. Dennis. No invitation to come in, no condolences offered. Finally G. grudgingly gave consent for Fr John Ford to conduct the ceremony. D. asked the daughters their mother’s name and offered to pray for her. Nothing from G.
As they left, the women were heard asking: "Wasn’t that terrible? Is he always like that?"