“I was aware I couldn’t cook – and that after retirement I would need to,” Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey told The Record this week after completing a three-month cooking class at Mercedes College.
Archbishop Hickey would almost certainly have to be the oldest student ever to graduate from Mercedes, located just over the road in Victoria Square in Perth’s CBD from the Cathedral House offices he once inhabited.
The Record’s photographer, Mat De Sousa, managed to catch up with Archbishop Hickey at his final class in December just as he finished decorating a Christmas cake prepared by fellow students.
The fact that he couldn’t cook became known – sometimes in jest but also seriously – at about the time he was retiring in March this year, he told The Record in a telephone interview last week.
Some time later his cooking impairment came to the attention of staff at Mercedes College, “and then this offer came out of the blue”, he said.
Archbishop Hickey joined several co-students taking a class for children with special needs known as Education Support Food and Nutrition.
“I found myself with a small class of young people and the teacher, Mrs Sonya Roberts, welcomed me among them.”
If Archbishop Hickey was slightly apprehensive about going back to school, so was his teacher, but everything turned out for the best.
“I felt that the experience was going to be very daunting but I soon realised that he was just such a lovely, humble man and it was lovely,” Mrs Roberts told The Record.
Archbishop Emeritus Hickey said he enjoyed the experience, learning under Mrs Roberts’ guidance to cook a variety of dishes including soups, pasta dishes, full meals with vegetables and sweets.
“I think it was marvellous. I’m far more confident now, especially in reading a recipe,” he told The Record, adding that he now cooks at home “a little bit more – but not for others yet.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I’m very proud to be a past pupil of Mercedes College,” he said.