Sydney priest still struggling to win congregation’s loyalty

The recently-appointed parish priest of inner-city Redfern has had to stand over a female parishioner to demand she "swallow" the communion wafer.

Press reports indicate growing hostility between Fr Gerry Prindiville and parishioners of the largely aboriginal St Vincent’s Parish.

Earlier this month, Fr Prindiville provoked the ire of congregation members by removing a photograph of the late Mum Shirl Smith that he claimed was inappropriately placed behind the altar. A co-founder of the first Aboriginal medical service, Mum Shirl is a mother figure to many local Aborigines.

On Sunday, members of the congregation staged walkouts throughout the service. Sister Dominique, a nun who has attended the church every day for decades, placed a note on the altar and walked out of the church in tears.

Her protest was in response to Fr Prindiville’s refusal to distribute the Eucharist to non-Catholics.

Fr Prindiville, a member of the Neocatechumenate Way is attempting to "clean up" the Church by demanding more respect for the Church’s sacred ritual and practices. It is common for dogs, the homeless, and people affected by drugs and alcohol to wander in, as they were made welcome by long-time parish priest Fr Ted Kennedy.

"I come from a completely different background and I am trying to be faithful to the practices of the church," Fr Prindiville said.

"I asked that they consume communion in front of me because I became aware people were going down the back of the church with the eucharist and I don’t know what goes on down there," he said.

Sunday Times

Pell acts to resolve Redfern priest crisis (21/7/03)
Background to Neocatechumenal Way
Estranged priest removed from Sydney parish (26/5/03)
Message to the St Vincent’s Catholic Parish Community, Redfern (Fr Bob Irwin MSC, Provincial, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
Congregation rejects priest´s disruption of Aboriginal ministry (19/5/03)
Aboriginal Catholic Ministry, Redfern
Pope´s message of support for Sydney aboriginal medical centre (7/1/02)
Thou shalt not covet: a frail fighter puts his plea to the Pope (SMH 3/12/01)
Australia: Confessions of a dying priest. Our savage moment of truth
Archdiocese of Sydney | St Vincent de Paul Church

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