Reflection on St Vincent’s Church

I have been a member of St Vincent‘s Catholic Church since January 1988. I was drawn by a desire to be part of the healing between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal and participate in the struggle for Aboriginal rights within the context of my faith. I was not disappointed. I was embraced for who I was, encouraged to develop and contribute freely as other members also are.

Although I have been living outside Redfern for three years I still feel part of the parish and am still treated as such. I would like to describe some of the special features of the church, which make it so valuable.

Theology of being with the poor: Literally we stand united, poor and middle-class in the church. We chat as we go in and out; we hear each other’s stories and see our lives unfold. We are equals.

Compassion not charity: “Standing with” and “feeling with” require more of us than “giving to”. It requires true listening and relationship. It does require action, but of a sort that enhances the dignity of the oppressed and aims to empower.

Solidarity with the poor across the world: While the church has a focus on the struggle for Aboriginal rights, we are also aware of injustice suffered by other groups and in other lands. Amongst the congregation are people active in other struggles and as a body we support them.

Room for the spirit: Through allowing people to express themselves in and around the liturgy, the Spirit has space to create the unexpected and the marvellous. We who are members of St Vincent‘s regularly experience the presence of the Spirit and visitors often remark on it

Fruits of the Spirit: Apart from the extraordinary relationships fostered by the Church between black and white, poor and middle-class, St Vincent’s has been instrumental in the initiation of and ongoing support of self-determining groups such as the Aboriginal Legal Service, the Aboriginal Medical Service and Dental Service and Aboriginal Hostels. These were pioneering efforts that have grown into national institutions.
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