By Josh Low
Perth Archbishop speaks to students on the occasion of the 2017 Forum for Secondary Schools in support of LifeLink Day.
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has last week emphasised the importance of opening our eyes, ears and hearts to recognise the sufferings and needs of those in our community.
The Archbishop was speaking to students from Catholic secondary schools across the Archdiocese gathered at Aranmore Catholic College, Leederville on 2 May for the Archbishop’s annual Forum for Secondary Schools in support of LifeLink Day.
Students also had the opportunity to pose questions to a panel which included Archbishop Costelloe, LifeLink Chairman and Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton and Director of Governance and Administrative Services for the Catholic Education Office of Western Australia (CEWA), Dr Edward Simons.
In his general address to the students, Archbishop Costelloe drew from the advice given by St Mary McKillop to her Sisters, in taking action when seeing needs arise.
“A person who has these qualities is precisely the kind of person who lives by the spirit which animated Mary McKillop and which makes this one of her most important pieces of advice to her Sisters,” the Archbishop said.
“Not only is this a highly idealistic goal for someone to try and reach: it also represents a very practical, down-to-earth method for living what we might call a heroic life.”
He referenced a parable from the Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus, saying that the rich man was not an evil person, but was still insensitive and blind to the needs of others.
Archbishop Costelloe said that there may be ‘Lazaruses’ – some lonely, neglected or silently suffering – people at school, or next door, or down the street from us.
“Have we got eyes that see these people, or ears that hear them calling for help, or hearts that ache a little when we do see and hear them?
“I want to say to you that you do have the eyes you need, but you may have to take off the blinkers that are limiting your vision.
“You do have the ears you need, but you may have to disconnect your iPhones from time to time and take off your headphones occasionally so that you can hear what is going on around you,” he said.
“You do have the hearts you need, but you may need to make a bit of an effort to get in touch with what lies deepest in your hearts.”
Archbishop Costelloe said that LifeLink is about raising money as well as raising awareness, and that he hopes students would return to their school communities with energy, enthusiasm and determination, ready to make a difference.
“There are too many people who, like the rich man in Jesus’s parable, just don’t see the suffering, the loneliness, the desperation and the hopelessness which have taken hold in the lives of so many people.
“I am hoping that people will say of your school community: there is a school that doesn’t just talk about social justice, or care for the poor, or sticking up for the underdog, there is a school which is full of people who are ready to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty and make a difference,” he concluded.
The ‘Archbishop’s LifeLink Day Initiative for Catholic Schools’ as it is now known, started in 1998, with the core objectives of promoting understanding of the Church’s response to those in need, instilling a sense of responsibility for the less fortunate, providing education and information on work done by LifeLink’s social service agencies and to encourage practical demonstrations of faith.
Collectively, Catholic primary and secondary schools have raised more than $1.7 million to support LifeLink Day, with every dollar directed to the service and care of people in need in the community.
In 2017, Archbishop Costelloe and Bishop Sproxton are hoping that Catholic schools in the Archdiocese will join together to collectively raise an additional $130,000 this LifeLink Day to help people in need throughout WA.