Which parish priest blew his stack on Monday morning because he felt that the church was in such a mess he couldn’t say mass there, and would not do so until it was tidied up? Probably the same one that angrily declared there would be no more Christmas parties for the poor in "his" church, or the one that was too busy "having his lunch" to discuss what on earth he was on about.
The rear of the church beneath the choir loft was decorated, and hampers, donated by numerous Sydney parishes, were carefully arranged at the other end of the church after Sunday’s mass, in readiness for Tuesday’s Sharing the Meal Christmas mass and luncheon. In deference to the parish priest, the volunteers placed the 200 or so Christmas hampers out of the way, even though the average priest would have been overjoyed with such an offering to the poor around his altar.
This extraordinary outburst left the already over-stressed Sharing the Meal organisers uncertain not only about the planned mass, but even whether they would be permitted to use the church at all for the special function.
Thank God that some semblance of sanity prevailed on the day, and Gerry turned up to say the 9:00am mass for a congregation of 25 or 30.
Gerry’s assistant Dennis Sudla was in the congregation. After mass, as he left the sacristy, he was confronted by the elderly, irrepressible Jack Callaghan, who asked "And when are you going to apologise to Marnie and the other women of the parish that you have abused?" Sudla glared at Jack, twice spat some unintelligible words at him, then used his finger to make an obscene gesture before heading past the altar. Jack followed with more questions, whereupon Gerry intervened, angrily stamped his feet on the floor and told Jack that it was none of his business. He then grabbed Sudla by the arm, insisting that they leave. Len De Lorenzo, standing nearby taking photos of the hampers, witnessed the entire performance, and followed the unruly procession with his camera. He too was treated to Sudla’s single finger salute as these noble pastors left the church premises.
"I am the parish priest. I can do as I like."
Postscript: Approximately 300 Christmas lunches were served yesterday. It was a great success. The parish priest and his assistant did not attend. See the Photos section