Letters regarding the Friday lockout

Several Community members wrote to Gerry Prindiville in attempt to stave off yesterday’s puerile lockout. A couple of them are reproduced here.

13 March, 2007

Father Gerry Prindiville
PO Box 1067
Strawberry Hills
NSW 2012

Dear Father Gerry

After our conversation on the phone last Friday evening, I hoped and prayed that you would reconsider your decision not to open our church on Friday late afternoon, a decision that effectively closes down two of the community’s spiritual gatherings. I pleaded with you then to think further about such a drastic decision.

With respect, I do think that your decision is an over-reaction. Our church was left unlocked by accident. Sister Dom and two others tried to lock up on that Friday evening but could not do it. They did manage to close it in a way that looked as if it were locked. Sister Dom was tired, went home and forgot to let you know until the Saturday morning. These kinds of oversights happen to all of us! There was no break-in. No damage was done, and yet now you seem ready to put an end to two sacred gatherings through which the community nourishes its faith. The first one is a small group of people who have been meditating together at St Vincent’s on Fridays for three years; the other is a gospel reflection group which has met at St Vincent’s on Fridays for more than thirty years!

I would like to tell you a little about the movement of which our small, treasured meditation group is a part.

The World Community for Christian Meditation is a global spiritual community which evolved out the work of the Benedictine monk John Main in the second half of last century. John Main was one of the most profoundly influential spiritual teachers of our age. His belief that the desert tradition of meditative prayer practised by the earliest monastic communities had an immediate and contemporary relevance gave rise to the vision of a totally new kind of community, one made up of men and women scattered throughout the world yet united in their daily practice of Christian meditation.
The World Community for Christian Meditation is an international community that practises and teaches meditation in the Christian tradition. The Community is now directed by Laurence Freeman, a student of John Main and a Benedictine monk.
The Community is a kind of ‘monastery without walls’, spreading over a hundred countries. Its spiritual foundation is the local meditation group. There are weekly meditation groups that help support people’s daily practice in over 60 countries.

In Australia alone, there are 300 groups. Cardinal Pell values the discipline of Christian meditation highly and knows that it is practised in many groups in Sydney and all around Australia. The heart of the meditation group is the sharing of silence together. This is the primary reason why, spontaneously, people around the world are starting small groups to meditate weekly together. The power and strength of meditating together comes from the words of Jesus, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:2).

For me personally, St Vincent’s meditation group is a lifeline – I was diagnosed with cancer four years ago and the group has been an ongoing spiritual support on my spiritual journey. The daily practice of meditation is very difficult without the support of others. I believe that the other meditators in our group would experience the same as I do: meditating together contributes to spiritual and psychological healing, and to a deepening of our faith.

I am writing as one who started the meditation group at St Vincent’s. There will be others who can speak much more legitimately on behalf of the Gospel reflections group.

I am hoping that you will reconsider your decision and open the door of St Vincent’s for us this Friday.

With every best wish

Joelle Newman

Cc to Cardinal Pell, Fr John Usher

13 March 2007

Fr Gerry Prindiville
PO Box 1067
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012

Dear Gerry,

FOR THE RECORD

I was, somewhat exceptionally, at the Meditation on Friday March 2.

There were only three people, three women: myself, Sr Dom and another woman.

Meditation lasted one hour.

There was no gospel reflection because Sr Dom does not usually stay for that and other key people were not there.

I witnessed no discussion about the altar cloth, nor any actions taken concerning it.

No one to my recollection went in that part of the church other than to turn off the lights.

Three of us tried many times to successfully close the latch. I am not often there on a Friday and did not know the trick to close it. None of us did. The doors were problematic and not able to be closed in a straightforward manner: instead of meeting in the middle, they overlapped. I noticed the whole door frame moved with the effort to close the doors. So we attached the latch as if they were closed and Sr Dom was going to telephone you when she got home.

I understand that she forgot to do so.

The door was not left open deliberately: it couldn’t be closed.

I am at a loss to understand the current climate of blame.

Elisabeth Burke

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