By Theresia Titus
Speaking at Veritas 2018 on Saturday 7 July, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB called on youth to “go and rebuild the Church”.
Taking the words of Pope Francis, Archbishop Costelloe asked young people to stand by the Church despite its “shocking failures of some bishops, priests, religious and other Church personnel have been laid bare for everyone to see”.
“The first [response] would be to walk away, perhaps in disgust, perhaps in sorrow, perhaps in confusion, and to seek to live our lives apart from the Church.
“The second would be to stick with the Church, in spite of its failings, and to see ourselves not as detached observers hoping that things will get better but as part of the re-building that now needs to take place,” he explained.
Archbishop Costelloe then continued by telling the story of St Francis, when God called him to “go and rebuild the Church” when St Francis was praying in front of a crucifix in a ruined Chapel.
St Francis thought he was called to rebuild the Chapel but what God meant was for him to go and find followers, precisely young men and women to return the Church back to its ideals that had been lost in practice.
Archbishop Costelloe said it would be “a fantastic thing” if we could form an army of young people here in WA, “like St Francis and his early followers”, help the Church find its way back to its ideals and path which come from the Lord.
“If we do this, and as we do this, we will, in the words of Pope Francis, be opening up new horizons for spreading joy.
“We will be people who through our own lives are setting other people free to live their lives as God intends, and what God intends is that we have life and have it to the full,” he said.
Another significant point Archbishop Costelloe made was “the Church is given to us as a gift, and our life within the Church is given to us as a gift” by the Lord.
However, he also stated that the Church is merely a gift when the Church is “faithful to its own God-given identity” and the identity of the Church
He then threw out a challenge for the youth community in WA to urgently “return the Church to Christ and return Christ to the Church”, “at this particular time in the history of the Church”.
“We need to remember that the Church is really His,” he said.
“The Church is Christ’s Church before it is ours, and it is ours only in the sense that we have received it as a gift from him.”
Archbishop Costelloe then added, just as with any gifts we receive, we have “to show respect to the giver and use some common sense in relation to the gift” and run the risk of ruining the gift if we don’t respect it.
Respecting the gift, Archbishop Costelloe stated, means going back to the manual which is the Gospel that reveals the identity, mind and heart of Jesus.
He also said to the audience that to be a part of the Church means to be a disciple of Jesus by becoming a person who provides a room for Jesus and acknowledges that despite its failings is a medium given by Christ for us to grow.
“The decision to be part of the Church is then, in the end, a decision based on a conviction about the importance of Jesus,” he said.
“Often people ask the question when faced with a difficult situation, “What would Jesus do?” It is a very important question though not always an easy one to answer.
“I think the more important question to ask is “Why would I even want to know what Jesus would do?” What is it about him that would lead me to want to be his disciple in the first place? This is the real challenge of this Veritas Festival,” he added.
Taking Chapter 6 of St John’s Gospel, Archbishop Costelloe said many of Jesus’ disciples left Him when faced with Jesus’ statement saying, “My flesh is real food and my blood is a real drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood live in me and I live in them”.
Archbishop Costelloe then asked the audience the same question Jesus asked His closest followers, “What about you, do you want to go away too?” and deliberately said Peter’s response of extraordinary act of faith shows that Jesus stands “at the heart of everything”.
The Church’s existence is, Archbishop Costelloe stated, a way of keeping “the memory and the truth and the living reality of Jesus alive and vibrant and accessible to all”.
Archbishop Costelloe then concluded his speech by affirming once more that it is Jesus who called us to go and rebuild His Church.
“He is the one who is sending us out to seize new opportunities for sharing the joy and hope of the Risen Christ. He is our Way: let’s follow him, He is our Truth: let’s believe in Him. He is our Life: let’s live in him and welcome Him to live in us,” he said.