Weekend evening masses at St Vincent’s are usually attended by one or two dozen people. While parish priest Prindiville remains adamant that they are parish masses, the Neocat presence is oppressive and out of all proportion to the size of the congregation. In attendance there are typically two priests and a number of seminarians, who actively discourage any attempts by non-Neocats to contribute to the masses, by, for instance, talking over anyone who dares to offer a Prayer of the Faithful, and denying community members – even qualified Eucharistic Ministers – the right to distribute communion.
All this despite the fact that for at least three decades under Ted Kennedy Redfern was a most inclusive parish where the all were unconditionally welcome to play a very active role. Surely the vitality of any parish is dependent upon the meaningful engagement and participation of its members.
A meeting – attended by St Vincent’s community members, Prindiville, assistant Sudla, and sundry followers of the way – was held after today’s 10am mass to discuss community concerns over the alien (and alienating) liturgy being imposed by the Neocat clerics.
It was hardly surprising that the meeting quickly turned into a passionate display of the intense feeling between the two groups when Prindiville condescendingly told the community that whilst HE “gave us the freedom” to do what we wanted in the morning mass, he “controlled” the evening ones . He also stated that it was because of the community’s behaviour that people were dropping away from St Vincent’s.
He again confirmed that these were parish, not Neocat, masses and there was to be no input from the community. The community was also advised that they were no longer permitted to acknowledge that they were on Aboriginal land before these masses.
In response to the community’s outburst, Prindiville retreated from the lectern to where community member Len was standing, making a photographic record of the meeting. He proceeded to try to seize Len’s camera, demanding that no pictures be taken in the church. There was a brief struggle, with Len warning that he would “sue the collar off” Prindiville if he damaged the camera, and demanding that the “miserable wretch” stop the assault. Immediately several Neocats surrounded Len, including GianPietro and Sudla who, apropos of God knows what, chimed in with “you needn’t talk – look at your hand”. (Len’s right hand was damaged in a school accident over 40 years ago.) Sudla has on many occasions demonstrated a capacity for base and cowardly behaviour especially towards women of the community – it appears now anyone with a bit of a disability is fair game as well. THIS IS A PRIEST???
The confrontation was defused by the approach of several non-Neocat males, whereupon Sudla commandeered the lectern, and shouting into the microphone berated the community that its prayers of the faithful were not prayers but statements, and political ones at that, and that the motives behind the prayers were not Christian. One member of the congregation switched off the public address system, and Prindiville promptly and angrily turned it back on again. Mary Lou, chairing the meeting, several times tried to ask Sudla to let someone else have a say, but he maintained his blanket accusations to the refrain of “that’s true! that’s true!” from Prindiville. Mayhem broke out and another member of the congregation, frustrated with his insulting accusations, went up and swung the microphone away from Sudla.
The Neocat contingent stormed out of the church amidst angry, frustrated cries of derision and disbelief. As Prindiville and Sudla passed Len, who was still reeling from the verbal and physical abuse administered by the pair, cried out “Get out of my church, Satan!” and Prindiville spat back “What do you think YOU are!?”
The discussion that ensued in their absence tried in vain to make sense out of what had happened. No one was left in doubt at that point of the futility of any further attempts at exchange. It would seem that dialogue with these people is impossible on any terms other than “I am the priest – shut up and do as I say”.
Some time later Prindiville and one of the seminarians returned, presumably to lock up. Realising as they approached that most of the community was still in the church, they beat a hasty retreat to cries of “Shame! Shame!” from a group of Aboriginal members of the community gathered outside.