Neocat assault

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.

Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Neocat assault

  1. Peace be with you all.

    Hello, Please forgive me for putting in my ‘tuppence’ worth – but I am moved to say something. I’m sorry that my Koori brother & sisters are in pain, nevertheless I’m even more sorry that my brother priests have been so insensitive.

    “…when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” [Luke 14:13-14]

    What I perceive, as an outsider, is that the priests are endeavouring to restore the Liturgy according to the normative, whereas the people of God at St Vincent’s are ‘loyally’ following the teachings of their longtime pastor – who, may he rest in peace, was not infallible unlike the Church – and possibly led his folk astray. It is so easily done, and never, I pray, premeditated or calculated – but through omission & error. Friends, we are still reeling from the social, cultural & religious revolutions of the 60s – what might seem progress, may, in fact, be poisonous.

    As Pope Benedict has written; the Liturgy is the central act of the Church – the Holy Eucharist is the Sacramental fountain from which are called to drink. I’d like to suggest that the catholic Koori elders study Pope Benedict’s book – “The Spirit of the Liturgy” – perhaps Fr Gerry could give or lend you a copy – all though the local public library should have it in stock.

    Maybe this will help in understanding where your priests are coming from – and maybe an insight into why the Aboriginal table, simultaneous para-liturgy &c, might be inappropriate within the Divine Liturgy – and perilous.

    Through the Eucharist we come to Christ in the most intimate way. The Liturgy is a little bit of ‘heaven’ amidst us in the world. Remember that the Church is IN the world but not OF it. Thus it may be inappropriate to politicize the General Intercession [Prayers of the Faithful] – they are biddings, & prayers to Almighty God, not complaints & wish-lists. Leave the politics to the Holy Spirit – Who as you know goes wherever He likes – even into the hearts of bloody-minded ‘pollies’.

    Please don’t be too hard on your priests – “…anyone who welcomes a holy man because he is a holy man will have a holy man’s reward. If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.” [Matthew 10:41-42].

    Sadly the onus of pastoral responsibility lies upon the shoulders of the shepherds, the episcopoi [over-seers] viz the Bishops, the Apostle’s successors – look to them for justice – however don’t expect it to conform to one’s expectations – it is surprising how often God doesn’t alter the universe to suit our own plans.

    Remain faithful to the Church, and the Catholic Faith – which is that that has been believed by ALL, Everywhere and ALWAYS. The late great Pope, John-Paul, echoed the words of Our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: “Be not afraid” – “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul & body in hell.” [Matthew 10:28]

    Take heart, and take care.

    In Christ & St John,
    Peter Edwards OSJ, priest, a sinner

    Jesu Mercy* Mary Pray.

  2. Church Mouse says:

    Father thank you for your thoughts.

    I think it is important to point out that my concern with these priests is their abusive behaviour.

    It is not the sacred Eucharist which is in dispute. Rather it is when Fr Prindiville who on several occassions abused the communion rites by his unseemly behaviour. By refusing communion to Aboriginal people and in the middle of communion and proceeding to chase someone back to their seat while screaming abuse to the woman with the chalice and host in his hands. This is what our outrage is about.

    Fr Sudla is a violent man and has on several occassions shown this side of his character while at the altar. This behaviour I hope has nothing to do with what may or may not have happened under Ted’s years at Redfern. For myself Ted had the greatest respect for the Eucharist and the people who attended St Vincent’s. He was not free of fault but he NEVER COMPROMISED THE EUCHARIST and never compromised with regards racism. I am sure you would wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments.

    In the struggle
    Rhonda Ansiewicz

  3. PAX

    Dear Rhonda, my sister-in-Christ.

    You are right that abusive behaviour is quite inappropriate in a church, indeed sacrilgeous if within the context of the Mass.

    I accept that if someone reverentially approaches the Sacred Mysteries to receive Holy Communion – a priest can do little about it – and probably rightly so – for to receive the Lord’s Body & Blood unworthily is to bring condemnation upon oneself. I would think it would be almost impossible for the clergy to ‘police’ – considering modern city life and people’s social patterns.

    The Orthodox, on the other hand, know who ‘can’ receive the Eucharist – those whom the priest knows have been to confession. The Orthodox receive Holy Communion about 3 or 4 times a year, though this is slightly increasing with the next westernized generation. In olden times in the Church of England, the parish clerk would enquire of the congregation who would be receiving Communion during the Liturgy’s ‘Divine Exhortations’.

    Cardinal Pell set a precedent & model of behaviour, when as Archbishop of Melbourne, he denied certain communicants the Holy Sacrament at the Mass. These people were conspicious by their rainbow sashes, who had decided to politicize the Lord’s Supper by identifying themselves as active homosexuals. His Eminence was truly within his rights as the shepherd of that flock to act as such, however the provenance of mercy and judgment is God’s.

    If there is any doubt as to people’s moral ‘fitness’ to receive Communion, or else be members of another ‘church’; then I’ve found from experience that it’s wise to give a 60 second ‘homily’ about the Real Presence [John 6:54-6] concluding with St Paul’s admonishment [I Cor.11:26-29] “Therefore whoever eats this Bread or drinks this Cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body & blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the Bread and drink of the Cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s Body.”.

    Please remember your prayers are important, so please pray for priests; for it can be tough work labouring in the Vineyard. Throw off your ‘rags’ of despair and dress yourselves in Joy. We all have ministries in the Church, but like what St Paul told the Philippians we must be ‘united in [our] convictions & united in [our] love…In your minds [we] must be the same as Christ Jesus’. [chap.2]. Thus working [& walking] hand in hand with your priests you shall be able to create a place of Joy in Redfern. Work together by improving the Liturgy – enrich the vestments, dress the Altar with fine cloths; encourage the lads to serve, and encourage the ‘gals’ to sing. Music, as Pope Benedict, noted is part of the Mystery of God – so use it. Don’t bother with guitars and drums, the human voice is the best instrument. Cultivate & foster artists [ikonographers] & composers. And make the Lord’s Day [Sunday] a big deal; have a feast after High Mass with plenty of fellowship; encourage the folk, especially the destitute & the youth, to get spruced up when coming to church. [Matthew 22:11ff] I always remember an Aboriginal family down the road from our house going to Mass on Sundays – smart little shirts with bowties for the boys, and the girls in pretty dresses wearing their best & shiniest shoes. Now thongs & singlets are ‘suitable’ attire for the worship of God.

    Good luck, take care, and God bless you.

    In Christ & St John,
    Peter, priest & a sinner.

    Jesu Mercy+Mary Pray

Leave a Reply