ArchbishopÔÇÖs 2019 Secondary Schools ForumStudents Q & A Session Transcript

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe] 

Okay so as Mr. Mendez said┬áit’s a chance for anyone to ask any questions┬áthey would like.

We’ll all do our best to answer them.┬áIf they’re too hard I’ll pass them to Doctor. Sayce or Bishop Sproxton.

And there are┬ámicrophones around┬áthere’s someone here right at the start.┬áSo you just need to wait for a┬ámicrophone┬áto come up.┬áRight up the front here.┬áSomeone from Servite College.┬áThe principal is looking a bit nervous┬áin case the questions a bit tricky.

Just say your name so we know who you are.

[Cecilia from Survite College] 

My name’s Cecilia,┬áHi Cecilia.

And I’m from,┬áServite College.

And my question is how we’re able to educate┬áand incorporate the students of our┬áschools that are non-Catholic’s┬áabout the Catholic faith without making┬áit seem as if we’re forcing our beliefs,┬áonto them?

That’s a great question. Thanks Cecilia!

So,┬áthe first thing that pops into my mind when you┬ásay that is something that,┬áI try and also┬áthink about in my role as the Archbishop┬áand in an inner sense┬áthe role is the same for any Christian,┬áyou know how do we share our faith┬áor let people know that we’re people of faith┬áwithout sort of beating them over the head┬áwith it, or trying to force them.

Pope Francis and before him Pope Benedict┬áand before him Pope John Paul The Second.┬áAll used to say something┬áthat I think is pretty important that┬áI’ve thought a lot about.┬áThey said that,┬áthe role of the Church, which means the┬áthat role of any of us who are part of the┬áChurch in relation to our faith┬áis to propose┬ábut never to impose┬áand I think that’s really worth thinking about it┬áas Christian people┬áwe would believe that we have a great story to tell people.┬áBut it’s a story to tell people┬áit’s not something to as I say belt┬ápeople over the head with.

So,┬áI think,┬ámy main thing would be and everyone would┬áhave to think about how I would do this┬áin my own local context.┬áBut┬áwe share our faith┬áwe’re not ashamed to hide it but┬áwe’re not trying to force anybody to┬ábelieve what we believe because that’s┬ánot what faith is like you know faith is like.

Faith is something that,┬ácatches your attention┬áor catches your interest┬áand you think about it and you think I wonder┬áwhy that person behaves like that or I’m impressed with what that person┬ásaid I’d like to know a bit more about.

But if you come in boots and all,┬átrying to force people to believe what you believe,┬áall youÔÇÖre going to do is put them off anyway.

So I think,┬áI’d say a couple of things,┬áone is┬átry to understand your faith as well as you can,┬áand,┬áyou know we could all get weird ideas about our faith┬áand we can all get sort of a bit over zealous about our faith.

We’ve been given this gift.┬áThe reason why we’ve been given it is because God wants us,┬áto share it,┬ánot to keep it to ourselves,┬ábut it’s the way we go about sharing it┬áso in a Catholic school┬áyou’re already well placed because┬áthe environment┬áis friendly to faith┬áat least I hope it is it’s supposed to be anyway.

The environment is friendly to faith.┬áSo no one should be ashamed,┬áin a Catholic school to be known as a person┬áwho has some faith and no Catholic school worth the name┬áwould be sort of minimizing or pushing to the side or┬ápretending it’s all just marginal┬áthe whole question of faith.

So to create an environment where it’s a question that can be discussed,┬áa way of life that can be experienced all of those sorts of things.┬áBut never imposing it on anybody else.┬áI don’t know if that helps or not.

Maybe Doctor Sayce or Bishop Don want to add something┬ábut I think be…. proud of your faith,┬árecognize what a wonderful┬ágift it is be happy to share it but┬ánever try and force it on anybody┬ábecause God doesn’t force it on anybody and┬áso we shouldn’t either.

[Bishop Donald Sproxton] 

Obviously I agree,

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe]

He has to I’m the boss

[Bishop Donald Sproxton] 

But,┬áI suppose what’s┬áalways been helpful to me┬áis to see other people, who have gone through┬áthis whole process of coming to an┬áunderstanding of the faith for themselves┬áand have begun living according┬áto what they believe, and I think that’s sort of the way in which,┬ámost of us,┬álearn the value of faith┬áwhen we see it working in the lives of other people,┬áso just support what’s been said but,┬ásay it’s looking around to see┬ápeople who are really good models of┬áChristian life and then wondering┬áwhere do they get the courage and where┬ádo they get the strength to do the┬áthings that they do as Christians.┬áYou know standing up for what they believe┬áfor example.

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe] 

I might just add one┬álittle thing you know every year on Holy┬áSaturday night so on Easter night,┬áin all the parishes around the diocese and there for┬áalso in the Cathedral we have,┬áa ceremony where older people when I say┬áolder people I mean not little babies┬ábut teenagers, young adults, older adults,┬ábecome Catholics,┬áso they’ve made the┬ádecision at some stage or another that┬áthis is a community that they want to belong to.

Every year in the Cathedral┬áwithout fail and I’m into my eighth year now as┬áthe Archbishop.┬áEvery year there’s a group of adults who are either┬áparents whose kids go to a Catholic school┬áor Teachers who teach in a┬áCatholic school who’ve decided to become┬áCatholics because of what they’ve┬áexperienced in the school.

And I don’t think it would ever be because someone’s┬ábeaten them into submission and said┬áyou’ve got to become a Catholic or else┬áI think it’s because they experience our┬ágenuine Catholic community and thing I’d┬áreally like to be a part of that so I┬áthink the question is a really good one and I suspect that already instinctively┬ámost of us know how to go┬áabout this because your schools, our┬áschools are very attractive places of┬áfaith for lots of people.

So I think┬áwe’re already doing a really good job┬áin proposing the faith by what the way┬áwe live rather than trying to impose it┬áon people and forcing them into it.

[Mackenzie LaSalle College] 

Hi my name’s Mackenzie from LaSalle College

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe] 

Hi Mackenzie our question is what is the Australian Catholic Youth Festival about?

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe] 

Okay that’s a, great question I’ll┬ásay a few words and then Bishop Don┬ámight like to talk about it because he’s┬ákind of the key person organizing it┬áall for us. The Australian Catholic Youth┬áFestival, is an annual gathering,┬áevery,┬ánot annual every two years Bishop Don or┬áevery three, every two, years of┬áyoung people from right across the┬ácountry and the origin of it was to sort┬áof provide an alternative for those┬ápeople who for all sorts of reasons┬áweren’t able to go to World Youth Day.

So you know last year or earlier this year World Youth Day was in Panama hardly┬áanyone from Perth went that whole set of┬áreasons about that, but prior to that┬áit’s been in places like Krakoff in┬áPoland and Rio de Janeiro in in Brazil┬áin Rio de Janeiro in Brazil yes.

So those,┬ábig massive meetings of young people┬áCatholic young people sometimes I think┬áBishop Don and I were in the one in┬áBrazil and there were three million┬áyoung Catholics from around the world┬áwho came to that. They’re a great┬áexperience, they’re very expensive to get┬áto not everyone can afford to do it, and┬áso we wanted to do something to give┬ápeople a similar experience but a, more┬áaccessible one so in the intervening┬áyears between the World Youth days we┬áhave the Australian Catholic Youth Festival.

Last time it was in Sydney, this┬átime it’s in Perth.┬áIt’s a gathering of┬áyoung people from around the ages of 15┬áor 16 up to well whatever you think┬ástill qualifies you as a young person.

So generally we say the early 30s don’t we┬áso there’ll be lots of people there┬áwe’re hoping┬áto have between people from Perth and┬áWA, and people from around the country about five or six thousand young people┬áwill come together for three days,┬áIt’s all going to be held at the Perth┬áExhibition Centre is that what it’s called?

The Convention and Exhibition Centre just┬áthere on the river near Elizabeth Quay┬áand it’s really an opportunity just to┬áin saying this I think gosh it doesn’t┬ásound all that exciting I wish I had a┬ávideo to show you. It’s a chance for people to come, young┬ápeople to come┬áand experience the excitement and the┬áenergy and the enthusiasm of being a┬áyoung Catholic in in today’s world.

ItÔÇÖs full of music, it’s full of excitement,┬áit’s full of energy.

There are all sorts,┬áof opportunities to explore issues of faith,┬ánot just in a forum like this┬áwhere somebody who’s got some Authority┬áor some leadership answers questions,┬ábut for young people together to explore┬áissues of faith whether they’re you know┬ásome of them could be quite challenging┬áissues, there are big plenary sessions┬áwhere everybody’s together in a great┬ábig auditorium we have, lots of, workshops┬áyes I was going to say in the in the big┬áplenary meetings there’s sort of a lot┬áof drama there’s a lot of music there’s┬áa lot of singing there’s a lot of┬áinvolvement.

Then there are the workshops,┬áthere’s opportunities for quiet times┬áfor, your activities all sorts of┬áthings. it’s starting on Sunday December┬áthe 8th I think it is, and finishes on┬áTuesday December the 10th with a bigger┬áwe hope at this stage a big open air┬ámass which will be an extraordinary thing hopefully all of these thousands┬áof young people four or five or six┬áthousand young people will be there for┬áthe mass we’re going to have it in a┬ávenue where hopefully anybody else from┬áPerth who wants to be part of it can┬ácome who knows how many people might┬ácome.

So it’s not just as I say,┬ánot just where you come for three days┬áand you sit at tables and you listen to┬ápeople talk to you and you get to ask┬áquestions. There’s a lot┬ámore energy and enthusiasm about it.┬áMost of the people who go come away┬áreally enthusiastic, for some people it┬ácan even be a life-changing experience.┬áFor lots of people it’s just three days┬áof a really enjoyable time together, and┬áit gives them a chance then to really I┬águess think about some of the questions┬áI was trying to raise earlier about┬áwhere do I stand in relation to this┬áquestion of the faith so it’s not just for┬áthose who are already deeply committed┬áto their faith, it’s not just for those┬áwho, well it’s for everybody that’s I┬águess that’s what I’m saying no matter┬áwhere you happen to be in your own┬ájourney of faith this is a chance for┬áyou to come not to feel intimidated┬ábecause you don’t quite believe what the┬ánext person believes or anything like┬áthat.

Chance for people to be together to┬áenjoy being together to explore issues,┬áof faith to have a good time┬áthat’s the Australian Catholic Youth┬áFestival but Bishop Don and maybe Doctor.┬áSayce is also very heavily┬áinvolved in his project might say┬ásomething about it.

[Bishop Donald Sproxton] 

The purpose as we heard was to give people in Australia that,┬áopportunity of having the same sort of┬áexperience if you were to go to World┬áYouth Day and I know from the experience┬áof going to the one in Sydney the youth┬áfestival in Sydney, it really is┬ásomething that gives you a lift and, you┬ácome back really looking for further┬áopportunities to listen to the witness┬áof other people to test that,┬ájourney that you’re undertaking within┬áyour own life, by hearing the journeys of┬áother people and so we we’re very┬áconfident when we suggested that maybe┬áPerth be the place for the next youth┬áfestival that we’d get a good response.

In fact I can remember at the mass at Sydney when Perth was announced there a big cheer went up, a lot of people want to come to Perth and they want to see us here in, Perth to be with us here in Perth because we were in a sense a little younger

I suppose in in terms of the Church, where we’ve got a different sort of┬áspirit I think and that’s something that┬áI think they guess and that’s what┬áthey’re looking for. So I’m sure you who┬ácome and join us will be making a great┬áimpact on the young people who come┬áacross.

We’ve got a great set of┬ácommittees and Peter Yensch is at the┬áback there he’s the deputy director of┬áCatholic Education,

There’s Peter. Peter’s got a┬áwonderful committee called the steering┬ácommittee that, is really doing great┬áwork in the preparations for the┬áfestival so thank you Peter for your┬áwork.

But there are probably I don’t know┬áhow many other committees but there’s a┬áwhole bevy of committees that are┬áhelping the steering committee get it get everything organised. The mass will┬ábe at Trinity College we’re very careful┬ánot to tread on the cricket pitch but┬áwe’re going to ensure that it’s┬áprotected but that’ll be the oval that we’ll be gathering everyone on and we’ll┬ábe doing a walk from the convention┬ácentre to the place where we’re having┬áthe mass at Trinity, which will be an┬áopportunity for us for everyone to even think about the spirituality┬áof Perth that is Christian that also┬ágoes back thousands of years. So it’ll be┬áa way of us learning a bit more about┬áthe Aboriginal people in their┬áspirituality.

Recently you might have┬áheard that there’s been the debate or┬áthere is a debate about whether we┬áshould use Aboriginal names, local –= Aboriginal names┬ágiving them to our towns and cities like┬áFremantle that’s really a way in┬áwhich we I think can come to understand┬áthe stories around significant places┬áthat we ourselves call by different┬ánames so that can be a part of that┬áawakening of the work of the spirit┬áwithin us seeing that the spirits been┬áat work in people for thousands of years┬áin this land but we’ve come in order to┬á bring the good news of Jesus┬áChrist to these people too and that’s a┬áwork that continues today.

So the festival has I think that very important mission to help us grow in faith and help us learn how to share that faith with other people

[Debra Sayce] 

I’d just┬álike to add our theme is listen to what┬áthe Spirit is saying and as Archbishop┬áspoke early and Bishop Don and I cited┬áit as well God is alive Jesus is alive┬áand young people have that voice in┬áorder to engage so the experience of┬áyouth festival and I too went to the one┬áin Sydney and it went from early morning┬áto late at night and you exhausted at┬áthe end of it but it was such an┬áuplifting experience┬á,loud music, contemplative quiet times,┬áprayer life, engagement for people around

Australia, it was extraordinary. S o I encourage you particularly our year 12 who would have finished school by then, you can register as a free citizen but for our schools to get heavily involved and for our young staff and our schools to encourage them to attend as well.

It’s an extraordinary event of gathering┬áof prayer of being Catholic today and I┬áthink and Archbishop I’ll cite you,┬ásometimes the Eastern States tends to┬áthink you know what, does┬áWestern Australia know well, Western┬áAustralia has a very loud voice, a very┬áengaging voice, one of strong faith and┬áwe’d really want to demonstrate and show┬áour faith to our friends from the other┬ástates and territories, is that right?

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe] 

Absolutely, I just might add to, you know┬áyou go to these things and it’s a little┬ábit like the announcement for where the┬ánext Olympic Games┬áis going to be held, there had been a fair┬ábit of encouragement if I can put it┬áthat way for me to agree to have the┬áyouth festival in Perth this year and I┬áwas a little bit iffy about it I must say because it’s a big thing and I’m┬áthinking to myself can we pull it off or┬ácan’t we, but as the Sydney youth┬áfestival went by and I still hadn’t made┬áup my mind finally and asked Bishop Fisher who was the Archbishop of Sydney┬áwas saying to me look Tim we really,┬áwe really want to be able to announce where┬áthe next one’s going to be so the┬ápressure was really on.

Anyway I talked to a lot of people I spoke to Doctor Sayce and to Bishop Don and lots of other people and I got the sense that if we decided to do it that, the Church in Perth and particularly the younger part of the Church in Perth would really get behind it.

So I said yes and I remember┬áat the end of the mass just before the┬áfinal blessing I had to go up to the to┬áthe microphone and Archbishop Fisher is┬ádoing his imitation of the president of the International Olympic Committee and┬ásaying the next youth festival will be┬áin and everybody waiting to hear what it┬áis and then he said Perth and everybody┬ástarted yelling and screaming and I┬áthought well if that’s an indication of┬áhow enthusiastic the Perth people are,┬áthen yes we can pull it off.

But we┬áreally do need to rely on the energy of┬áour young people to make it a success┬ábecause as both Bishop Don and Doctor┬áSayce have said people in the Eastern┬áStates, I used to be one of them I’m not┬áanymore, people in the Eastern States sometimes wonder what’s going on, on the┬áother side of the Nullarbor and is the┬áChurch actually there at all and is it┬áalive and what’s it up to.

And we really┬áwant to show the rest of Australia that┬áwe have something special about the┬áChurch here in Perth, and I think we do┬áhave something special we’re able to do┬áthings here the people on the other side┬áof the country don’t do because we’re a┬álittle bit isolated, we’re a little bit┬áindependent, we can do our own thing a bit.

And so I’m really enthusiastic about┬áit and I’m really confident about it. But I’m┬áreally hoping that you’ll get behind it,┬áand that the schools will get behind it.

It will be a great way to finish off the year┬áfor those who are still at school and┬áalso for those in year 12 and maybe some┬áin year 11 I’m not sure when the year┬á11s finish but who might be right at the┬áend of the school year but to be able to┬ácome together for three days showcase┬áthe Church in Perth to the rest of the┬ácountry I think that’ll be a great thing┬áso I’m really looking forward to it.

Other questions?

[Ruby from Santa Maria College] 

Hi I’m, Ruby from Santa Maria College.

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe] 

Hi Ruby.

When babies die before being born when┬áthey’re stillborns and have not been┬ábaptized will they go straight to Heaven?

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe] 

Okay, good question┬áand maybe I’m happy to answer it but again Bishop Don or Doctor Sayce might want┬áto say something about it. I think the┬áquestion comes out of the idea that in┬áorder to get to Heaven you’ve got to be baptized and therefore┬áif anybody I suppose dies before they’re┬ábaptise and therefore particularly,┬áchildren before their birth who are┬ástill in their mother’s womb and maybe┬áis stillborn die or died during childbirth or something like that will always┬ástill go to Heaven.

I think the simple answer is yes. When I was a kid at school we used to get taught a lot about a thing called limbo anyone ever heard of limbo before?

Not too many of you so this will come as a bit of a surprise to most of you but when I was a little boy going to school we were taught that they were kind of three options. No, four options after you died. The best option was Heaven, the worst option was Hell, the second best option was purgatory and then the third best option or second worst option if you like was limbo.

Now┬áthe idea was that you could only go to┬áHeaven if you were baptised, but if you┬áweren’t baptized but you hadn’t ever┬ádone anything wrong it didn’t seem fair┬áthat God would send you to Hell so there┬áhad to be somewhere else.

And so they┬ácame up with this theory and that’s all┬áthat ever was a theory but┬ásome people thought it was official┬áChurch teaching it never was they came┬áup with this theory that there was this┬áoption of a place, where you could be┬ánaturally happy after that you died┬árather than supernaturally happy which┬áwould mean in Heaven with God.

And so if┬áyou hadn’t been lucky enough to get┬ábaptised or you had never heard about Jesus┬áor something like that and you died and┬áyou’d lived a good life where you hadn’t┬áeven lived long enough to be able to┬álive a bad life┬áyou could go to Limbo. When you think it┬áthrough it doesn’t really make sense because there’s something in the Bible┬áthat says God wants everybody to be┬ásaved that’s what God wants.

Now I spoke┬áearlier about faith and the gift of┬áfaith and so salvation finally reaching┬áour ultimate destiny in Heaven with God,┬áis a free choice that we make over the┬ácourse of our lifetime, God’s not going┬áto force anybody in through the gates of┬áHeaven. If you’re absolutely determined┬ánot to go there well that’s your choice┬áand God will respect it.

But that’s got┬áto be a choice and if you’re too young┬áto make the choice then how could God exclude you from Heaven, so because God┬áwants everybody to be saved and because┬ánot everybody has the chance to be┬ábaptised for those who’ve never had the┬áchance to be baptised there has to be┬áanother way of salvation of going to┬áHeaven and that’s what the Church┬áteaches.

So the old idea that there was┬áthis other place that unbaptised babies┬ámight go to after they died that’s not┬áany longer┬áa part of the Church’s understanding.┬áDoes that sort of answer the question?

Yeah, it’s a really good question because┬áof course you know lots of children die before they’re born, lots of children┬ádied in childbirth, lots of children die┬áwhen they’re still very young but for┬ásome reason their parents haven’t had┬áthem baptized.

Once upon a time people┬ábelieve that none of those people could┬ágo to Heaven and be with God but as┬áwe’ve come to understand God and God’s┬álove better┬áwe realise that just doesn’t make┬áany sense. So the only people who in theory never get to Heaven of┬áthose who have lived a life in which┬áthey’ve made it clear that they will not┬ábe open to God’s presence in their lives┬áat all.

I don’t think there are many people like┬áthat to tell you the truth, it’s always┬ápossible, so just hang on to this in the┬áBible in the scriptures it says God┬áwants everybody to be saved if that’s┬áwhat God wants then unless you decide┬áyou don’t want it that’s what will be┬áyour future.

Is that right or?

[Bishop Donald Sproxton] 

I think┬áI’d give you a hundred percent for that answer.

[Yasmin Brown Aranmore Catholic College] 

Hi, my name is Yasmine Brown,┬áand I am from Aranmore Catholic College,┬ásome of us are studying the contemporary issue of euthanasia and our religion┬áclass. We were wondering so how the┬áChurch’s response to euthanasia causes┬átension in conflict.

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe] 

That’s a very important question it’s a very current┬áquestion as you all know at the moment I┬áwas in Sydney for meetings and only got┬áback to Perth on Wednesday night of last┬áweek and I woke up on Thursday morning┬áto find that the government had made the┬áannouncement that it was pursuing┬álegislation to legalise euthanasia.

I want to preface my remarks with what I said in relationship to the first question and that is that for me as the Archbishop but I think for the role of the Church generally our task is to propose what we believe but not impose.

So I as the Archbishop can’t force the┬ágovernment to do anything, I can’t force┬áanybody to do anything, but what I can do┬áis present the Church’s understanding┬áand the teaching of the Catholic

Church and this is a question of faith. We live in a society┬áwhere we have lots of different faiths┬áand we live in a society where lots of┬ápeople would claim not to have any faith┬ácertainly not any faith in a God. So this┬áis a question of faith that I’m talking┬áabout and it is the firm belief of┬áthe Catholic tradition that life from┬áits very beginning is a gift from God,┬áand only God has the right to decide┬áwhen a life should end.

And so in one sense the issue is very simple, but in┬ásaying that I don’t want to pretend that it doesn’t.┬áIt’s not a very agonizing┬ádecision for a lot of people, but from a┬ápoint of view of faith we believe God is┬áthe giver of life, the creator of life┬áand that every moment of life,┬áno matter┬áhow difficult it might be is a moment┬áwhere God’s gift needs to be respected.

So basically the Church’s position would be that┬áno one has the right to take┬áanother person’s life┬ábecause that is┬áGod’s domain if you like.┬áWe need to add┬áthough that you may or may not┬áagree with this but I think that for a┬álot of people they don’t understand the┬ádifference between euthanasia┬áand very┬ágood palliative care for people who are dying.

And so one of the problems with euthanasia┬áis that it provides society with if you like,┬áthis sounds a bit hard and I don’t mean it to be but┬áwith a quick┬áand simple solution┬áwhich is not going┬áto cost society too much money,┬ápalliative care is a very expensive thing.

You need lots of doctors and nurses who are going to be there to care for people as they journey through this last stage of their life.

The Catholic┬áChurch’s view would be that the┬áfundamental value of every human life is such that providing the resources for┬ágood palliative care is actually one of┬áthe most fundamental responsibilities of┬áany society, not an optional extra.

So would be arguing for a much greater commitment to providing universal good quality palliative care, for those who are reaching the end of their life rather than to say well, we will allow people either to take their own life or to get someone else to do it for them.

But in the end it comes down to a fundamental principle,┬áis life of such┬ágreat value that no one has the right to┬átake another person’s life or not.┬áThat’s┬áthe bottom line and I think for us┬ácertainly for me thinking about this┬áonce society crosses that line┬áand says┬áwell there are times when it is possible┬áto take another person’s life then┬áyou’ve kind of opened the gates┬áto┬ásomeone further down the line saying┬áwell here’s another set of conditions┬áwhere it’s okay to take someone’s life.

So it’s one of those sort of fundamental principles┬áthat certainly we and the Catholic Church would say┬áneeds to be maintained for the welfare of society as a whole.┬áThat’s how I would understand it.

But all we can do is put forward our point of view, argue as persuasively as we can and hope that our point of view might be seen for what it is. Difficult issue all the same.

[Tahlia Johnson Emmanuel Catholic College] 

I’m Tahlia Johnson from Emmanuel Catholic College┬áand my question is┬áhas┬áthere a ever been a time where your faith┬áhas been challenged and if so what brought you back to faith?

[Archbishop Timothy Costelloe] 

Well I’m happy┬áto answer that and then the others might┬áwant to have a go.

It really relates to the last question, my mother died when I was a young priest overseas studying. And I was called back quite suddenly and told that I needed to get back quickly because otherwise my mother will have died before I could get home.

I’ve never told anyone much this story before.

So I came home and at the time that my mother was in one hospital dying, she had a very bad and painful form of cancer my sister-in-law was in another hospital due to give birth to her first and as it turns out only child.

And because of her health issues it was going to be a caesarean operation. So we knew exactly when the baby was going to be born.

So I was in one hospital with my mother and my brother was in another hospital with his wife and as it turned out the baby was born the same day that my mum died.

And I remember not knowing what to do with myself.┬áWhat are you supposed to do and it every year┬áand it’s only just last month.┬áEvery┬áyear the anniversary comes around┬áand┬áyou don’t know what to do.

Do I┬áfeel sad because of the anniversary of MumÔÇÖs death┬áor happy because it’s the birthday of my niece who’s now 28┬áand┬átrying to work with that and┬áunderstand that and understand what God┬áwas doing and why this was happening┬áwas┬áa really difficult time for me┬á.

And I┬áremember going after it everything was┬áover and we’d had the funeral and I’d┬áalso baptised my new niece, I went back to Rome,┬áwhere I was studying and I remember the people┬áI was living┬áwith said I wasn’t Archbishop then┬áthey┬ásaid “Oh Father Tim. Wasn’t that a beautiful thing.”┬á”One life ended and another life began.”

And I thought to┬ámyself there’s nothing┬ábeautiful about it at all. I really got angry┬áwith people┬áthat they could sort of trivialize┬áthe whole thing with such a throwaway line.┬áBecause it felt to me like it was a┬áthrowaway line which didn’t respect what had actually happened.

So that was a time when it┬áwasn’t so much my faith was challenged┬áin the sense that I was going to walk away from everything.┬áBut I just couldn’t understand it and I couldn’t make sense┬áof it and I literally didn’t know what to feel.┬áBut I’ll tell you and it relates┬áto the earlier question.

I was in┬áhospital with Mum she was very close to┬ádeath and in fact the Doctors had said┬átwo days before┬áif you want anyone to┬ásay goodbye to your mother you better┬áget them now because she won’t last the night.┬áBut she did.

So I was in hospital with┬ámum, my brother was in hospital with his wife,┬áthe baby was born he rang me to tell me┬áand said “Everything is okay, the baby’s fine”

Ronna that’s my sister-in-law’s name┬áis fine and they were in fact going to┬áget my brother to bring the baby from one hospital┬áto the other so that Mum┬áwould have the┬áopportunity to at least┬áin some way or┬áanother meet her one and only grandchild┬ábut Mum was already very close to death.

So I went into the room where Mum was┬áand I leant over her┬áand I just┬áwhispered to her┬á”The baby’s been born,┬áit’s a little girl, everything’s okay.”┬á”She’s fine, Ronna’s fine.”┬áAnd Mum couldn’t talk┬áanymore she couldn’t move.┬áBut a tear┬árolled down her face┬áand then within an┬áhour she had died. And I think then that┬ásomehow rather God had given Mum the strength┬áto hang on┬áuntil┬áwe were able to tell her this news┬áand┬áthen she was able to go home to God.

That’s what kind of thinking about it later┬áit was the presence of God in that very tragic situation.┬áWhich kind of┬árelates to that story I was talking to┬áabout before with the Peter walking on the water.┬áIn the midst of a┬ástorm and it was like being in the┬ámiddle of a storm when all this was happening,┬áI think I had a sense of looking back I realise┬áthat the Lord was there saying┬á”Have courage”┬á”donÔÇÖt be afraid I’m with you”┬áand it’s┬áalso why I worry about euthanasia,┬ábecause if euthanasia had been a possibility┬áand someone had pressured us┬ánot that we would have done it but nevertheless┬ásomeone had pressured us into┬ábringing Mum’s death sooner than it needed to happen┬áshe would have missed┬áout on that very precious experience.

It just made me think┬áeven when you┬ácan’t see it and even when it looks like┬áa mess and even when the whole thing looks like a┬ábit of a disaster really,┬áGod can still be there, still present,┬ástill working a way to bring good out of┬ásomething terrible.

Yes I wasn’t┬áexpecting to tell that story this morning but that’s probably┬áthe thing that stands out in my mind when you ask me that question.

Comments are closed.