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Thursday, 18 August 2005
Page: 119

Mr MURPHY (9:52 AM) —This morning I would like to say a few words about the late Father Ted Kennedy of Redfern, who died last May. After moving to Redfern in 1971, Father Ted quickly established a reputation as a champion of the poor and dispossessed. On wet winter nights, up to 100 people would crowd into his house and, whatever happened, he would never call the cops. His example inspired others, such as the South Sydney Uniting Church, which donated property to the Black Theatre and the Catholic Sisters of Mercy, who gave property on which the Aboriginal medical service was established.

His sermons, peppered with poetry, attracted Catholics from all over Sydney. Indeed, it was Father Kennedy who encouraged James McAuley and Richard Connolly to become the most successful hymn-writing duo in Australian Catholic history. No wonder more than 1,500 people attended his funeral at the Block in Redfern. Ted’s sister, Marnie, a religious member of the Sacred Heart and also a staunch friend of the Aboriginal cause, said that her brother had wanted to be buried from Redfern among the people he loved. So I take the opportunity this morning to salute and farewell Father Ted. In the words of Father Ed Campion:

Kennedy was the friendly face of the church for thousands of Aborigines who took this white priest into their hearts and made him part of their own story.