Redfern Church without a priest, but no loss of spirit

The Catholic community of Redfern, with the largest indigenous congregation in Australia, prays without a resident parish priest. But this could not stop yesterday’s celebration.

The Sydney Morning Herald this morning reports on the situation at St Vincent’s Parish, Redfern in inner-suburban Sydney which has been without a resident parish priest for a month.

State MP, Linda Burney, the first indigenous member of the NSW Parliament, told the congregation of the historical significance of their church, St Vincent’s: "We celebrate the truth of Australia here, warts and all. This is the history we share. This is an honest place."

St Vincent’s has been without a priest since the departure of Fr Peter Carroll. The congregation had written to the Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Order, claiming that Father Carroll was alienated from the largely indigenous congregation.

He had been at St Vincent’s for eight months, following the retirement of Father Ted Kennedy, who had often criticised Catholic leaders and spoken out for indigenous Australians during his 30-year tenure.

The paper reports: "The congregation said the dispute with Father Carroll began when he demanded the removal of Aborigines on the footpath outside the church before Sunday Mass."

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