CATH NEWS REPORT: Sister Marnie Kennedy was a nun and an educator, counsellor, activist, spiritual leader and defender of the rights of the dispossessed and marginalised.
She was greatly valued and dearly loved for her warmth, grace, wisdom, generosity of spirit and capacity for love.
She loved her church, even though she wearied of its leadership. She believed the role of women in the Church was undervalued and looked forward to a time when their full potential could be realised.
Margaret Mary (known as Marnie) Kennedy was born in Sydney on December 2, 1927. She grew up in Marrickville. Her parents were compassionate people interested in being of service to others - especially the poor - and encouraged their children in this spirit.
Her brother, Father Ted Kennedy, as parish priest at St Vincent's in Redfern, was bringing a more open and inclusive church to some of Australia's most marginalised people. Redfern had become home to many Aboriginal people from all over NSW, especially for members of the stolen generations finding a new connection with their people.Kennedy had deliberately and joyfully chosen to leave mainstream society and embrace a life of contemplative prayer. However, when Vatican II came, bringing an end to the restrictions of this way of life, Kennedy welcomed its changes.
Kennedy's connection with Redfern led her to what she saw as her most formative experience. She conducted "street retreats" in the inner city. In this work, Kennedy formed a close and lasting connection with the poorest, most powerless and most marginalised people.
The last years of Kennedy's life, after the death of Ted in 2005, were difficult. She was deeply disappointed by what she saw as the deliberate dismantling of all that he and others had built over 30 years at St Vincent's, Redfern.