Oh, for an intentional community!

December 29, 2008 at 6:33 am (Catholic Church) (, , , )

What I’m looking for is an intentional community of the Roman and Catholic persuasion in the inner city of Sydney, where I can worship and be a part of a community of faithful who exemplifies the defining aspects of a dynamic church: the church militant, the church suffering and the church triumphant.

    I want a parish church where there is an open conflict between the parish priest and the congregation, with no clear guidelines as to, who is actually conducting the weekly Mass. Let there be long-winded dissertations and outpourings by congregation members when the time comes for prayers of the faithful; and as for the sign of peace, anything less than chaos, as people move around the church, kissing, hugging and shaking hands would be unacceptable. The pastor must wait patiently while these expressions of love are taking place. With a bit of luck, he might not even turn up for next week’s Mass and leave the faithful entirely to their own devices.

   The community I want is one dedicated to the first Australians; be they functional or dysfunctional, the more dysfunctional the better. The call for “any change brother” would be like music to the ears of the parishioners, especially if the hard word is put on one during the consecration at Mass. The advisability of keeping one’s possessions close especially when going to communion need not be stated. The spirituality of those moving about the church must be a known fact and not open to question.

    I like the idea of putting items of supposed sacredness on the altar without reference to the pastor; what would he know anyhow?

   I want a priest who says very little about social justice and a lot about sin and damnation. I want a parish that has a fierce and ongoing memory of a past charismatic pastor and wants to preserve this at all costs; one that moves with the times but is stuck in time. It would be energizing if during Mass someone jumps up and informs all about a television service that impressed him or her and is far better than the present one.

   The parish that I want must be militant, triumphant and suffering and I put to my readers, is there such a parish?

   One might accuse me of looking for drama rather than spirituality, and this might be right, but please protect me from the insipid and dull and let me grow in the excitement and exuberance of a truly intentional community.


  1. Andrei Wall said,

    You’ve done a bit of work on the blog of late. It must be like a full-time job.

  2. Peter Griffin said,


    I passed your composition on to the email group. The heading, by the way is theologically incorrect. An intentional community is, within the ambit of Canon Law, by definition transportable. It is the intention which is stable, the place is not. Therefore you’re wishing for an oxymoron.
    I’m not at all sure that (my) airing of your opinion piece was a good idea.
    I assume you think it’s funny. I can’t come at that. It’s dripping with sarcasm and disrespect. I think that if you wish to express disagreement about a living community, then there are more suitable and edifying art forms than the lowest form of wit..



  3. Peter Griffin said,

    Correction to the last entry: An intentional community can by definition move around to any location . In that sense the intention is stable. This theological googly was raised once before until a Canon Lawyer made it clear that to be called an Intentional Community meant that the “home” could be anyplace, as long as the intention remained stable. If the community is associated with a particular place – which is deemed Sacred both because of its history and its ongoing significance to persons both local and distant , then the living community, with its dedication to the people of today must be addressed in terms which takes those realities into account.

  4. deberigny said,


    Many thanks for your comments. I remember some years ago you put me straight on the definition of an intentional community, but I still like my use of it as a delineation within my meaning, that is a purposeful and intended group of people.

    I’m not sure it was a good idea to pass the piece onto the email group, but I more or less asked for this, and this shows your openness and democratic approach, which is appreciated.

    With all good wishes and peace,


  5. deberigny said,


    Thanks for the further clarification and refinement of the meaning of an intentional community.


  6. Robert Carpenter said,

    I came across this piece on what I guess is a comment on a community somewhere in Sydney Australia. I’m at a loss to know if this is supposed to be taken seriously and I tend to concur with Peter Griffin that “it’s dripping with sarcasm and disrespect.” However, that as it may be, I would like to make some remarks about Christian communities that are intentional in nature.
    To my mind all Christian groupings or communities are in some way intentional. To be Christian they must be Bible based and Holy Ghost inspired. From this they get their jurisdiction.
    I’m a member of the Free Independent Apostolic Baptist Church and part of a small congregation in Jackson County, Alabama. We are very fortunate to have the Reverend John Spender as our spiritual leader, a man who throughout his ministry has been led by the Holy Ghost, a gift that has inspired him and his congregation. Reverend John was originally a Britisher but now I can say that he, after all his years in the States is a regular all American boy.
    In the intentional community, if that is what it is, in Sydney? There seems to be a lack of spiritual leadership. I ask you, is the resident priest/minister a Bible based man? I wonder in the Roman Church if this is possible. What is the eschatology of this man, and indeed, the congregation?
    The members of our church are by their very nature Premillennialists and are awaiting the Coming of the Lord.
    The Rev. John recently returned from a trip to Australia after preaching the Rapture and the Second Coming. He told us that in the most mainline churches there the amillennial position is firmly held. He didn’t receive or expect any assistance from either Protestant or Roman leaders in the city of Sydney.
    I suspect that in the Sydney Intentional Community under discussion the congregation, whether they know it or not, are in some ways awaiting the Rapture. Cardinal George Pell, the Roman leader in Sydney, would have little sympathy with them. Their pastor, who is there at George Pell’s grace, appears to have little sympathy with his congregation. (These insights were gleaned from the Rev John after his recent Sydney trip.)
    As Christians we are not crystal ball gazers, but if I might be permitted to make some predictions for the future, they are these: The congregation, while being Roman in name is essentially Protestant in a truly reformed sense. Their Premillennial subconscious beliefs will eventually lead to a formal break with the Roman Catholic Church. I can see Cardinal George Pell descending to their suburban church dressed in full ecclesiastical episcopal regalia and proclaiming an ex cathedra pronouncement of condemnation and excommunication on the intentional congregation, while further endorsing the direct authority of the resident priest.
    In this event you might well ask, what is the congregation to do? They should as one proclaim the Coming of the Lord and immediately get in touch with the Reverent John Spender and invite him to lead them to glory in the spirit of the Lord. His address is:
    The Free Independent Baptist Church, Bridgeport, Jackson County, Alabama, USA.
    I’ll end by saying in accord with Matthew 25:13
    “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”

  7. Leo Quixote said,

    There’s something phoney about the above comment and interview with John Spender. I’m a member of the Free Independent Apostolic Baptist Church in Jackson County, Alabama. Our pastor is John Spender. He is always addressed as Pastor John. Our congregation has no Robert Carpenter!

  8. Jack Gibb said,

    I’m glad to see that you have replaced ‘whom’ with ‘who’ in the second paragraph. I noticed ‘whom’ used incorrectly in an earlier version. In the fourth paragraph the question mark is better than the previous exclaimation mark. I’m sure that if I looked carefully there would be other mistakes.

    • Jim Jones said,

      ‘to whom’, perhaps?? ‘who’,I don’t know!!

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