‘Mum has been very brave in supporting what I do, emotionally and practically.”
Courier -Mail May 12 2012 http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/mothers/story-fn6ck8la-1226353089182
Terry Fitzpatrick, 54, Catholic priest at St Mary’s-In-Exile, South Brisbane, & Marie Fitzpatrick, 77
Marie Fitzpatrick has watched and prayed as her third son, Terry, has challenged the Catholic Church as renegade priest and advocate for the marginalised, most recently at St Mary’s-in-Exile.
Marie: When Terry said he wanted to be a priest, I told him to go and live some life, get a job, and then see how he felt. They go in too young, they’re too raw, so I was a bit fearful. And when you become a priest you’re looking after people all the time, more or less. But Terry always loved people.
Still, in his third year in the seminary, I was reading that many priests went in to please their mothers. I drove down to see him and said, I want you to leave. Did you do this because of me? He laughed and said: I’m here because I want to be here.
When the trouble erupted at St Mary’s [former parish priest Fr Peter Kennedy was asked to leave the South Brisbane church in April 2009], we thought Terry was in deep water.
I prayed like hell – that’s why my knees are worn out – then left it in God’s hands. But we’d both been in the Catholic Charismatic Movement [a doctrine similar to Pentecostalism] together, and that was very freeing, and joyful. It showed me a God who was loving and not fearful, so St Mary’s didn’t feel new to me. I really enjoyed going. But I’ve learned to hand some things over to God.
Terry: Mum and I have always shared a kind of synergy. We’ve got the same personality. I’ve always felt very connected to her; I know what she’s thinking. So I wasn’t surprised when she joined me in the Charismatic Movement. We both saw that the mainstream church only appeared to look after people. They reward those who don’t make waves. Mum has been very brave in supporting what I do, emotionally and practically. I think we understand each other’s language. But
I didn’t join the priesthood for her!
I’ve been called a renegade but I don’t really feel like that. I’ve chosen to stand with the workers, with people, with the disadvantaged. In that way I feel that St Mary’s didn’t leave the church, the church left us. Vatican II was about giving the church back to the people, but the hierarchy stopped that. We see ourselves as how the mainstream Catholic Church would have looked if it had gone down that path.
But I don’t act alone. I’m part of the St Mary’s community. Sometimes I was the spokesperson, but they were walking alongside us. And I stayed in there because it made sense of my life; I loved it, am passionate about it. Mum’s always seen that I’m about the human rather than the bureaucracy.