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Priest denies Redfern church is "for the Aboriginals"

The parish priest of St Vincent's Parish in Sydney's inner-city has hit out at critics who say he is alienating Aboriginies, saying that they are not churchgoers, and that "you'd probably get about five or six Aboriginals that have ever come to church".

Fr Gerry Prindiville (pictured) told the ABC's Religion Report that the parish's "reputation of being a church for the Aboriginals" is misleading, and his vision is for St Vincent's to become "a normal parish, where the priest is there, with the co-operation of the parishioners, working together to preach the Gospel, to catechise the children, to administer the sacraments".

He said that his wish is for priest and parishioners "just be able to work together."

"The priest can't do everything by himself and the people can't do anything without the priest," he said. "So together we have to work together."

In yesterday's Online Catholics magazine, Sydney University Community Medicine Professor Stephen Leeder criticised the Archdiocesan Charitable Works Fund (CWF) for withdrawing funds for a twice-weekly meal for the poor in the Redfern Parish. Fund chair Monsignor Kerry Bayada said that the cut was due to the fact that there are other services accessible to indigenous people in Redfern.

A one-hour feature documentary was broadcast on ABC Radio National on Sunday on the controversial change of direction at the parish since the retirement of long-time parish priest Fr Ted Kennedy, who established the Church's reputation as a focal point for Redfern's Aboriginal community.

The program related Fr Prindiville's rejection of requests to offer support to the Aboriginal community after the riots last February. He said it is not for the parish, but "a police matter".

In yesterday's Religion Report, Sr Marnie Kennedy rscj - sister of Fr Kennedy - criticised Fr Prindiville's inistence that only baptised Catholics are buried from the Church. Previously the question of whether those requesting burial were Catholic was not asked.

St Vincent's Redfern (ABC Religion Report 28/7/04)

Professor criticises Redfern charity withdrawal (CathNews 28/7/04)
Archdiocese of Sydney Charitable Works Fund
Poor Church (ABC Radio National Encounter 25/7/04)
Parish of St Vincent de Paul, Redfern
Redfern Church Mouse
The Neocatechumenal Way
The Neocatechumenal Way - Australia
Sydney priest still struggling to win congregation's loyalty (CathNews 24/9/03)
Pell acts to resolve Redfern priest crisis (CathNews 21/7/03)

29 Jul 2004