Letter to Fr Bob Irwin, MSC Provincial

Father Robert Irwin
Missionaries of the Sacred Heart

Dear Father Irwin

We have been authorised to write to you on behalf of those members of the community of St Vincent’s Redfern who attended the meeting on May 4, 2003 to discuss the future of St Vincent’s, and in particular the role of Father Peter Carroll as parish priest. Father Carroll was invited to attend but declined to do so. We understand that you were also invited.

The meeting was convened in the context of increasing concern for the spirit and charism of a community which has come together over the past thirty years and which is built upon a distinct culture and view about what it is to be a Christian community. This culture was inspired and nurtured by Father Ted Kennedy, Mum Shirl and many others. The community recognises that what happened in the past cannot and will not be replicated in the same way as it was then. Indeed, the community has shown that it can move on without the presence of Father Kennedy which it did with success during the long period after Father Kennedy ceased to be regularly available. The community remains determined that its culture and spirit will continue long into the future and it is our sincere and earnest prayer that our priest, whomever that might be, will embrace us accordingly.

The meeting was variously attended by some 75 people and the following resolutions were passed unanimously:

1. That the community of St Vincent’s Redfern endorses the core values attached.

2. That the community agrees that the behaviour of Father Peter Carroll is unacceptable to them (in light of some these values).

3. That the community seeks an urgent meeting with Father Carroll and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart to discuss the above resolutions, and that the meeting be held at St Vincent’s Redfern on Sunday May 18 at 11.00 am.

4. That if Father Carroll does not agree to attend this meeting to address the concerns of the community, to endorse the attached values and personally commit to resolve all difficulties (in the spirit of these values) then the community will request his immediate removal as parish priest.

We wish to emphasise the distress and anxiety expressed by so many. People are concerned for the wellbeing of Father Carroll, but also for the future of the St Vincent’s community. They recognise that Father Carroll has made efforts in his role as parish priest and that he has connected with some people. On the other hand they are upset and angry about his behaviour towards certain people in the community and by his refusal to embrace the spirit and history of St Vincent’s, and in so doing engage openly with the community as a whole.

We look forward to hearing from you and advise that we can be contacted as above. We also enclose a copy of our letter of even date to Father Carroll.

Yours sincerely

Rhonda Ansiewicz & Danny Gilbert

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