Another message from San Francisco:
Hello St. Vincent’s, Redfern Parishioners:
In the U.S., Roman Catholics have plenty of problems caused by Roman Catholic priests selling out to clericalism. The situation at St. Vincent’s, however, surpasses the worst U.S. parish mess.
In fact, in the U.S. the worst clericalism results in the closure of the parish and the sale of the church buildings. The land under most urban U.S. Roman Catholic churches has usually appreciated greatly in value.
It would be very unusual in the U.S. for so much effort to establish a community, Neo-Catechumenate, that a diverse group of people, racial and social, have no interest in joining. Why bother, why not just close the parish and sell off the property? Would the selling off of the property of St. Vincent’s, Redfern be too obvious a real estate windfall for the Sidney Archdiocese?
I think such clericalism results in dead ends. To quote Mum Shirl: "My Grandfather always liked to travel in a straight line. He stayed away from the white folks’ roads and railway lines, for he said to follow them was the fastest way to end up lost."
I’d like to correspond by e-mail with anyone in Australia seriously interested in promoting Mum Shirl’s story and her faith in Mad Roman Catholicism. Perhaps, it is time to spread her story beyond the continent of Australia.
The witness being supressed in not just that of the community of St. Vincent’s, Redfern. The witness being supressed is the presence in the Communion of Saints of Shirley Smith.
An Australian who was visiting San Francisco in late March 2004 referred me to some Australian Roman Catholic web sites. It seems fanatical clericalism is causing similar problems in all countries where two conditions exist. The majority of lay Roman Catholics have access to continuing education, and the clerics not the laity own the Roman Catholic church buildings. Arguments about the direction of the Roman Catholic Church then unfold.
In April 2004, I came across your web site and was astounded by Shirley Smith’s picture. What a memorable face! Only recently I found that Redfern had been the site of significant aboriginal riots in Feburary 2004.
Coincidentally, Mum Shirl had an adult older brother, Jimmy, who died impaled. He fell from a veranda while sleep walking. As Mum Shirl said, "I can still listen when it helps, and I do, and I can still learn, and I do that too." Maybe she’s still listening.
Bet the entire church of St. Vincent de Paul on Mum Shirl.