The following is an excerpt from the St Vincent de Paul Society National President's Report.

This year, The Society embarked on the beginning of a journey of reconciliation.

We have made a humble start: for example, by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet whenever we gather together as Vincentians.

I invite you to join me in making this acknowledgement in a prayerful way, especially remembering all the Aboriginal People who have died either as a direct or indirect result of European colonisation. Let me assure you, this kind of acknowledgement is not some kind of act of trendy political correctness. I would like to put it to you that it is really something that accords deeply with our Vincentian spirituality, a spirituality that finds Christ on the margins.

The late Fr Ted Kennedy, who was well-known for his ministry at the Parish of St Vincent de Paul, in Redfern, said something that I feel we, as Catholics, should take heed of and reflect on. He said:

“Within the Catholic community in Australia there has been a deep, dark hole for a long time now, which amounts to a lack of genuine spirituality. By ‘spiritual’ I do not mean something ethereal, incapable of being translated into the common coinage of human experience. I mean the opposite: something that can live at the very centre of the human dilemma.

Religion can become the possession of an elitist group, whose power reinforces the power of all the other institutional forces in society. Its language then becomes spiritually hollow, incapable of criticising or challenging any of those forces. In so becoming, religion moves inevitably away from where people – especially the poor – live, move and have their being.

I want to confess that the Australian Catholic Church has built up a momentum that is heading away from the poor, and to the extent that it has done so, it has become unfaithful to the Gospel.”