Tribute for Ted

Thirty-three years ago Ted opened the presbytery door to Aunty Helen and so began his extraordinary journey here at Redfern and for many of us our journey was entwined with his. His early days with that rag tag group of lay and religious people who threw their lot in with him and the poor, were tumultuous and life changing.

None of us here today would want him to have suffered one more day but our grief and loss is raw. We have lost someone we all loved deeply. I loved you Ted and feel I have lost my soul mate.

Ted lived his beliefs through a lens that was crystal clear and authentic to the true values of the gospels. He lived his life committed to justice for the poor the marginalised and those who are rejected by society and the church. A special place in his heart was with the Aboriginal people of Redfern and beyond. They recognised a true friend as did the mentally ill, the refugee, homosexual people and those who are seen as other in our world.

He taught us the deadly secret that you have to go to that dark and alienating place to find the rejected and the outcast and there in that brokenness you will find Jesus. The Beatitudes we sing today reflect so much of Ted’s life in action. He was the Good shepherd who tenderly cared for his flock while courageously defending their rights.

Ted was loved so much by the littlest of our brothers and sisters and this is a testament to the integrity and beauty of this holy man.

He never wanted to be the power broker but rather listened to the voice of those who suffered racism, prejudice and suffering. These people became his teachers. He understood that gospel passage’ you will always have the poor among you’ because he knew we had broken our covenant with God. He shared the pain and suffering of so many and his journey was not without suffering. But he also had the gift to celebrate our joys and happiness too.

Ted had the extraordinary gift of embracing us all as part of his family. He connected us to each other forging friendships with him and about him. Ted sought and found the good in us all and lived with our faults and imperfections because that is what Ted did the best. He loved our brokenness while accepting with humility his own limitations. And how he loved, with passion and loyalty. We have all been touched by his presence in our lives.

Ted was gracious and hospitable. He loved good wine, fine food, no greens please. He had a voracious appetite for literature and poetry. He had a wicked sense of humour. Some time back in his inimitable way he ordered me to kneel at his feet and promise to maintain and continue the fight for justice. There was no kneeling at his feet! But I promised that what he had taught me by his example and through the gospel would be the blueprint for my life. He had one of the finest intellects in our contemporary world yet he was so humble. He had an extraordinary gentleness that many of us have been privy to and on the receiving end of.

Ted felt deep pain and sadness at what has happened to the Aboriginal people of his beloved St Vincent’s since his retirement. At times he displayed a white-hot anger at the treatment of Aboriginal people and the community. It was an anger steeped in his uncompromising stance against racism and injustice. Probably the greatest gift Ted shared with us was his uncompromising stance on these issues.

He urged all who came into his life not to live vicariously through him but to seek and find through relationship with the poor the authentic truth. He urged us to go to that place in our life and take with us the struggle wherever we might be.

Ted loved us. And how he loved. His life and his example have sown a seed in us to continue his legacy. On behalf of many Ted, we know you are listening, we will carry your love and your dream in our hearts. Today we celebrate your life and grieve deeply our loss.

I know that when you arrived into eternity you were met by all your loved ones, especially the black angels Patti, Dicko, Mum Shirl, Normie, and hundreds and hundreds of Aboriginals who now have their beloved TK, Fr. Ted, Fr hEdward Kennedy (as only Mum Shirl could say it) and Teddles with them.

There is much celebration in eternity today with the chant and dance of a great corroboree, and together all the angels are singing their song and singing you home.

Look after us Ted…we love you.

Rhonda Ansiewicz
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