Redfern meditation group locked out

In the latest controversy at Sydney's Redfern parish, members of a longstanding Friday meditation group claim to have been locked out of the church over the disappearance of an altar cloth.

According ChurchMouse, an online journal run by Redfern parishioners, last Friday's weekly meeting was held outside the locked church.

The journal says the Redfern community has met at the church for over 36 years to discuss and reflect upon the weekend scripture readings.

For the last three years these sessions have been preceded by a Christian meditation session.

ChurchMouse says that controversial Neocatechumenal Way parish priest, Fr Gerry Prindiville, last week decided that the church would no longer be available for these activities.

Members of the community claim that the reason for the lockout was the disappearance of an altar cloth after the church was accidentally left unlocked by a member of the group.

The community says that it has offered to replace the cloth and has contacted Sydney Chancellor, Fr John Usher, to mediate.

According to meditation group member, Sr Marnie Kennedy, Fr Prindiville is understood to have refused an offer of dialogue with Fr Usher or another diocesan official.

However, Fr Prindiville denied that he had been approached by the archdiocese.

He also told ChurchMouse that the Friday lockout had nothing to do with the missing altar cloth.

The online journal claims that Fr Prindiville said that the community "had gone too far, and was now being 'punished' for showing disrespect for the Eucharist and for the lies told (especially about priests) on this (the ChurchMouse) website and elsewhere."

Meanwhile, a group of Sydney students has written an open letter to the parishioners in support of their complaints following an immersion experience in Redfern at the weekend.

"We are a diverse group of people from many walks of life," say the students from University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney.

Both the universities are located adjoining inner-city Redfern.

"We want to extend our solidarity with you over this situation of abuses posed by this very new Religious group that have invasively, divisively and disruptively taken possession of your space as well as your sense of community."

In the letter, the group threatened to "take very prompt, public and severe actions through our structural and network support" to "expose" the Neocatechumenal Way's "abusive and unchristian" conduct at the parish if the conflict persists.

The unique parish in Redfern, under the three-decade guidance of Indigenous advocate Fr Ted Kennedy, established a strong Indigenous and social presence and was associated with the medical centre, housing initiatives and other welfare works.

Sydney Cardinal George Pell sent the Neocatechumenal Way missionaries to the parish in 2003 after the retirement of Fr Kennedy a year earlier.

Prindiville has done it again (Church Mouse, 16/3/07)
An Open Letter of Support (Church Mouse, 20/3/07)
Letters regarding the Friday lockout (Church Mouse, 20/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Vincent's Parish, Redfern (Sydney Archdiocese)
Neocatechumenal Way official website
Fr Ted Kennedy (wikipedia.org)

Redfern parishioners want to reconcile with parish priest (CathNews, 25/8/07)
Redfern parish priest appeals for cooperation (CathNews, 18/8/06)
Indigenous mural shock at Redfern parish (CathNews, 31/7/06)
Threat to memory of Redfern's Mum Shirl (CathNews, 2/5/06)
Death of Redfern's Fr Ted Kennedy (CathNews, 18/5/05)
Priest denies Redfern church is "for the Aboriginals" (CathNews, 29/7/04)

21 Mar 2007