By Rachel Curry
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe celebrated 30 years of priesthood on 25 October 2016.
The Melbourne born, Perth Archbishop told the story of his vocation earlier this year in a video featured on the Archdiocesan Vocations Office website.
The Archbishop explained that he first heard God’s call to the priesthood when he was in primary school at St Peter’s, East Bentleigh, Victoria.
“I think I first thought of being a priest quite consciously when I was in about grade five or six, and the reason really as I look back now, is because of the influence of the assistant priest in the parish in which I grew up in Melbourne,” he said.
“I realise now that he was a very shy fellow but at the time I didn’t realise that. I just thought of him as a very kind, very welcoming, very friendly and generous person and I thought, as you do when you’re a little boy, I’d like to be like that when I grow up.”
Archbishop Costelloe added that he was also influenced by a statue of St Anthony of Padua outside his local Church.
The statue, which depicts the Child Jesus standing on a book held by St Anthony and looking up at the Franciscan preacher, provoked something deep inside of him.
“I can remember standing in the porch of that parish church, looking at that statue and somehow or other understanding that our faith was about a relationship between Jesus and us,” he said.
“There was something about that look between the two of them which helped me to understand that this was what our faith was about.”
In an important message for young men attempting to respond to God’s call, the Archbishop also admitted that he went through struggles on the path to becoming a priest.
The decade he spent in formation with the Salesians of Don Bosco was a time of both great joy and great challenge, he said.
“I wondered whether this was really what I wanted to do, struggled with the whole question of celibacy and in a sense, ‘giving up’ the possibility of getting married and having a family,” he said.
“But I eventually came to realise, somewhere deep inside me, that if I was going to be the person that God created me to be, going to be the person that I felt deep within me I needed to be, the only way for me to do that, was to become a priest and to be a religious.
“So that deep sense of calling was the thing I think that sustained me through all the ups and downs.”
On the 30th anniversary of his ordination, Archbishop Costelloe said he could look back and say it has been a “wonderful life” so far.
“I am enormously grateful for the gift of my vocation to the priesthood. I’m overwhelmed by it, over-awed by it really, and sometimes struggle to understand why the Lord would have chosen me,” he said.
“But He has and because He has, I know that He continues to be with me, continues to support me, continues to lift me up when I fall, and if that’s been my experience for the last 30 years, I’ve got no reason to imagine that it won’t be my experience into the future.”
From page 4 and 5 from Issue 5: ‘Christmas 2016 – Looking forward to the Birth of Christ & Reflecting back on the Year 2016?’ of The Record Magazine