Thursday, 10 June 2004
Fr. Gerry Prindiville,
St. Vincent’s Catholic Church, Redfern
Dear Fr. Gerry,
Re: Open Letter re St Vincent’s Church Buildings and Furnishings
A few weeks before Easter, you approved the installation of two carpets within the Church, the larger square spreading under the Altar, the smaller "runner" going up under the Magisterial Chair-on-a-Podium/Platform, also installed since your arrival. While no announcement was made about these carpets, on request you mentioned to some of the community that they "had been a gift". Perhaps the gift was meant as a sign of paying respect to God at the Altar Place. However, to our knowledge, there has been no discussion about this matter with the 30-year-old community of St. Vincent’s.
Our community has long held the view that this church building is, and will remain, a holy place where ALL are welcome (as is surely the hope for all Catholic Churches), and especially the poor, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized. Hence, St. Vincent’s Church itself has been deliberately left very simple, without adornment, and certainly without ostentation of any kind, as well as without overtones of pomp and ceremony as is exemplified by the presence of a Magisterial Chair. In this way, we hope that the people of priority – the poor, dispossessed, and disempowered – will feel immediately comfortable to take their place with ease within the community. Further, the community is one that is marked by compassion, critical thinking and creativity, for whom ecclesiastical adornments and merchandise are not a vehicle for spiritual or prayerful reflection.
For anyone within the Redfern area who prefers, even on occasion, a more ostentatious environment, there are a number of inner-city churches available within easy public-transport distance from St. Vincent’s.
Therefore, we, as the long-term community of St Vincent’s, respectfully and formally ask you, in your role as Parish Priest, to thank the donor of these gifts and to have the carpets removed to another location. They do not support the theology and lived experience of tills community’s poverty and are found by many to be offensive and inconsistent.
We formally ask you to put this request into effect very soon after receiving this hand-delivered communication, or to discuss these matters with the Community after the 10am Mass on the Sunday after you receive it.
URGENT PRACTICAL NEEDS
There is an ongoing need each week for general practical assistance in our community outreach programmes. There is an urgent need for more power points at the rear of the Church to assist with the facility of "Sharing the Meal", and for an architecturally appropriate, weight-bearing hand-rail for the elderly or infirm at the main front entrance. And, in anticipation of the completion of building works next-door, we highlight the need for a small ramp of the correct regulation gradient from the side passageway through the altar side door to provide disability access.
BUILDINGS AND DECORATION
We also request that you respectfully discuss with the Community any other proposed alterations to the St Vincent’s buildings, furnishings, or appearance before you take steps to install them in the future.
Thank you for your kind attention to these matters. Yours sincerely,
The Community of St Vincent’s, Redfern
David Allen, Rhonda Anciewicz, Joelle Battestini, Hilary Bone, Eileen Burke, Elizabeth Burke, Mary Cawood, Jack Callaghan, Marianne Dacy, Stephen Darmody, Catherine De Lorenzo, Len De Lorenzo, Maureen Flood, Dom Furlong, Maggie Galley, , John Gavan, Kate Gavan, Michael Gravener, Peter Griffin, John Hill, Alan Hockey, Anne Hudson, Marnie Kennedy, Clare Maguire, Peter Manning, Mary McGowan, Mary McMahon, Gabrielle Nolan, Sheila Quonoey, Helen Regan, Eric Snowball, Pierre Thibaudeau, Frank Vavasour, Deborah Ruiz Wall OA, Anne Webb