Hundreds of people have visited the Church Mouse in the 36 hours since the program was first broadcast. Here are some excerpts from what a couple of them had to say.
Having listened to the Encounter programme on Radio National this morning at 7am, I am most interested in the fate of the bi-weekly luncheons since the withdrawal of finacial support. Is there a plan for raising the necessary funds to support the lunch and if so, how does one contribute?
Dear church mouse
I have just listened to poor church on the ABC.
It has saddened me deeply to hear of what is happening to your community. I was fortunate to experience the St Vincents community when I lived in Sydney in 1987 and attended Mass with Father Ted and Mum Shirl and felt the true inclusion of my 3 yr old son in the proceedings – not the usual experience for mothers of lively toddlers at Mass.
I learned volumes from Fr Ted as a role model and from the community about reconciliation. And I do remember the bare boards and everyone on the same level!! I also remember one week when ?Fabian from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence talked to the congregation about his experiences of growing up gay and Catholic. This church is really about all people I felt. I had never felt that before.
I want to offer my support to your community at this really trying time – what is the best way for me to contribute to fundraising to sustain the twice weekly lunches?
Dear people of St Vincent’s, Redfern,
Pax Christi. I empathasise with you after listening to the programme. I have taken the trouble to quickly read something about the Neocatechumenat Community which can only be called a sect, and as dangerous to the 21st century Church as some of the mediaeval and reformation movements were.
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church in Australia is heading post haste for a bottomless pit. We are a population in which one third is nominally Catholic.
… yet the church is dead. Who to blame? None other than the hierarchy and a traditional priesthood that has been ruined by the generosity of Catholics. The Irish in particular have always spoilt their priests who have been regarded as one step below God.
So your parish is one that has suffered not only from neglect after the retirement of Father Kennedy but essentially from the autocratic and domineering attitude of Cardinal Pell who should never have been appointed to the position he holds. That such a sect of priests has been appointed to anywhere in Australia is anathema.
I hope that you do not have to bear your cross for too much longer.
This is just to give you some support. I can’t help myself when it comes to expressing my views on a Church that I find I cannot see as being Christlike in many of its activities. Perhaps the creator will deal with Pell and his cohorts in his own way!
Best wishes, Philip H., Adelaide
Sometime in the early eighties (I think), I attended a concert at the Opera House which featured catholic music writers and their songs and one of the performers was Peter Kearney. Peter came on to the stage like a breath of fresh air and proceeded to talk about a song he was to sing and how, at his church at Redfern, whenever he and the congregation sang the song, an aboriginal man (whose name I cannot remember) would call out at the end of the song "Play it again, Sam!" – the song was ‘Where is your song, My Lord’ and I vowed at that moment I would go to that church in Redfern as it sounded like something I may enjoy being at.
My husband accompanied me that first time and I stood at the back asking him "are you sure this is the catholic church?" – it was certainly different to any others I had attended!. I came back the next week, and as I reached the Church, I noticed a man sitting in the gutter with two aboriginal men, one on either side of him, arms around each other and chatting. Again I stood down the back and as communion time came around I saw that same man enter the church just in time to receive the eucharist. Now, I had been brought up in a strict Catholic household with a religion based on shame and fear, so can you imagine my thoughts as I witnessed this! I remember thinking how I had been taught the need to be in attendance for ALL of the Mass in order to receive the Eucharist! but that thought was dismissed in favour of a much stronger one – "THIS IS A CHURCH THAT PRACTISES WHAT CHRISTIANITY IS ALL ABOUT!"
I returned many, many times after that and I learned and changed and grew from those experiences. You were, and will always be, an inspiration to me, Ted, through your patience, tolerance and humility. Thank you for assisting me to believe that Christ can be alive and well within the Catholic Church!!
May God bless you ….. Mary B.
Peace and blessings, Justin W.