The life of Bishop John Charles McIntryre (27 October 1951 – 6 June 2014) was Celebrated at Saint Saviour’s Anglican Church Redfern on 17 June 2014, where John Mac as he more commonly known locally, was rector from 1990 to 2005. Jack Carnegie reflects on his contribution and passing.
Much has been written about John McIntyre since his untimely death last month. His friend, journalist Julie Baird, wrote a moving piece in the Herald, describing him as “a priest who fought for the disadvantaged, the marginalised and the spurned.” These attributes made sure he was marginalised in the conservative Sydney Anglican diocese.
I first met John when I worked at South Sydney Community Aid and was surprised, like many, that this progressive member of the ALP, pub drinker, folk music lover and human rights advocate was indeed an Anglican priest. We got along very well.
Dinner with John, his wife Jan and daughters Jessica and Lisa were chaotic affairs, with some local issue always ensuring that nothing ran to schedule, but they were hugely entertaining and immensely enjoyable.
John was an active community worker in the Redfern area, serving on committees and working closely with the Aboriginal community and public housing tenants. He always had time for one more issue and took them on with optimism and good humour. His constant battles with the conservative Sydney Anglicans eventually led him back to Victoria, when he was appointed Bishop of Gippsland.
A huge gathering at Saint Saviours saw John off when he was appointed Bishop. The eclectic crowd included MPs, clergy, public housing tenants, drinking buddies and his Aboriginal friends. There were tears and mixed emotions at his departure: he got the job he deserved but Redfern had lost a great champion of the poor and marginalised.
One of John’s legacies was the conversion of the old church hall at Saint Saviours into office accommodation for four Home and Community Care organisations. These groups provided transport, food, home maintenance and home visiting services to the frail aged and people with disabilities. They were desperate for accommodation and with a government grant the old hall was converted into a vibrant space for these services.
Unfortunately, John’s replacement didn’t have the same commitment to the secular community as he did and they were asked to leave by the new minister.
In these harsh conservative times we can ill afford to lose such a generous, intelligent and compassionate man, who still had much to offer to his church and Australia.
Jack Carnegie has worked in a number of community organisations in South Sydney including South Sydney Community Aid, South Sydney Community Transport, Newtown Neighbourhood Centre and ISRCSD.
John McIntyre returned to Redfern in 2007 to deliver the Marg Barry Memorial Lecture on What is truth? Discovering the basis for authentic communities. You can read his presentation on the ISRCSD website.