.- A priest who is the new pastor of an Australian congregation whose last pastor led hundreds of parishioners into a breakaway sect has pledged to sustain the parish and to “move forward” in its “unusual” situation.
The previous pastor of St. Mary’s Church in South Brisbane was Fr. Peter Kennedy, who allegedly denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and was on record denying the Virgin Birth.
According to the Courier Mail, he also allowed a Buddhist statue in the Church.
The priest has begun a community called “St. Mary’s in Exile” based at a nearby Trades and Labour Council building.
Archbishop of Brisbane John A. Bathersby replaced Fr. Kennedy with Fr. Ken Howell, Dean of St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
In a message to St. Mary’s Church, Fr. Howell said he looked forward to his first Masses at the parish on Saturday and Sunday.
“Whenever there is a new pastor there is always a sense of apprehension,” Fr. Howell wrote in a statement. “Given the events that have led to this change of pastors, everyone can wonder what will happen. All I know is that as we gather to celebrate Eucharist a new chapter in the life of this great parish begins. The content of that chapter will be what we together, priest and people, will compose as we share faith and life.”
According to the Courier Mail, he said he wanted to see the parish “sustained as a parish.”
"There's been a great number of people who have worshiped there in recent times and I have no reason to believe that's not going to be the case into the future. I think the numbers will be surprising in a positive way, not just a handful of people."
"Usually when you move to a new parish, there's a fair amount of certainty of who will be there. But this situation because of what has happened, it's a little bit unusual, that's for sure," he said, saying it will take time to form the new community.
"We're not into contests between ourselves and the TLC building... I've always had good relations with Father Kennedy," he told the Courier Mail. "We could start discussing what's happened and how it's happened, and would it have been better if this had happened, but that's life. We deal with the reality as it is and move forward.”