Incoming administrator Fr Ken Howell has raised the hope that the community will move forward “vibrant and united” after recent events.
Fr Howell, who is also St Stephen’s Cathedral dean, is celebrating Masses for the first time in his new role at St Mary’s today.
Archbishop John Bathersby in a letter on February 6 informed then St Mary’s administrator Fr Peter Kennedy that he was cancelling his appointment, unless he “were to resign beforehand”.
Fr Kennedy and the St Mary’s community had failed to agree to directives from the archbishop for Fr Kennedy to cease practices at St Mary’s “that separated it from communion with the Roman Catholic Church”.
Archbishop Bathersby is standing by his decision.
In a statement this week, he said the transfer and appointment of parish priests and administrators was a normal part of the functioning of any archdiocese.
“My February 6 letter to Fr Kennedy requested that he either resign as administrator of St Mary’s or have that appointment terminated,” Archbishop Bathersby said.
“Fr Peter Kennedy will remain a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Brisbane after the termination of his appointment to St Mary’s.”
Fr Howell welcomed comments by Fr Kennedy in a Brisbane newspaper that, although he would continue to attend Mass in the parish, Fr Howell was “welcome” to lead the Mass.
“I look forward to visiting the parish during the week, so that there can be a smooth transition,” Fr Howell said in a statement on Monday.
“This is to ensure the celebration of Mass at St Mary’s this weekend and the continuation of important parish activities such as its outreach to people at a social or economic disadvantage in our community.”
Fr Howell also referred to Fr Kennedy’s collapse hours after his final Mass last Sunday afternoon. He was taken to hospital and released after observation.
“I was alarmed as a brother priest to hear that Fr Kennedy was taken ill last night, and hope he is on the road to recovery,” Fr Howell said.
A spokesperson for St Mary’s said it was understood that Fr Kennedy’s collapse was “basically due to the stress of the current situation”.
She said Fr Kennedy had taken a couple of days off duty but was “recovering well”.
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