Archdiocese of Perth marks 10 years of Archbishop Costelloe’s shepherd leadership

24 Mar 2022

By Amanda Murthy

Perth Archbishop Timothy John Costelloe SDB on 20 February, marked 10 years of service as senior leader of the Perth Catholic community, with a message consistent to the one he delivered when he was first installed as the nineth Archbishop of Perth.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB as Archbishop of Perth in 2012. Photo: Catholic News Service.

“I continue to hope and pray that, through my ministry of service and leadership in the Archdiocese, we the community of the disciples of Christ, might become more and more, as the first Letter of Saint Peter puts it, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, so that we might proclaim the mighty deeds of Him who has called us out of darkness into His own marvellous light,” he said.

“That light is Jesus Christ. It is to Him that we commit all that we have and all that we are. It is to Him that we entrust the journey into the future which we set out on together.”

In acknowledging his gratefulness on the milestone, Archbishop Coselloe opted out of an extravagant celebration, instead, kept busy with the many tasks at hand, including his role as Plenary Council President.

Born on 3 February 1954, the second son of Francis John (Jack) and Carmel Tasma Costelloe (nee Roadknight) was ordained a priest on 25 October 1986, by sixth Archbishop of Melbourne Sir Frank Little KBE, in Melbourne.

Surrounded by the Church community, Archbishop Costelloe received Catholic Education in all his schooling years.

“My family were regular Mass goers and being Catholic just seemed quite natural to me, an essential but, in a way, an unremarkable part of life.”

“My parents were not wealthy and made enormous sacrifices to make sure my brother and I received a Catholic education. Home, school, and Church were the harmonious backdrop to my formative years. I was very blessed.”

Fresh in the workforce, Archbishop Costelloe assumed a part-time role as a salesman in a variety of menswear stores. It was during this time he recalls his vocation to the priesthood growing.

Archbishop Costelloe began his studies in a teacher training course at Christ College in Melbourne, which he interrupted in 1977 to join the Salesians of Don Bosco – receiving his Final Profession in 1985.

The Archbishop’s accomplishments followed over the years; Religious Education Coordinator at Chadstone’s Salesian College (three years), completing his Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Salesian Pontifical University in 1991, and lecturing in Systematic Theology at Catholic Theological College in Melbourne, with a focus in the formation of young Salesians.

In 1996, Archbishop Cosstelloe was transferred to Perth where he assumed the roles of Parish Priest of Victoria Park St Joachim Church on 30 April 2007 and Lecturer in Theology at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle.

Subsequently, he completed his Doctorate in Theology from the Melbourne College of Divinity.

He recalled one of his highlights during this period in 1998, when he was selected to attend the Synod for Oceania in Rome as the theological adviser of then Archbishop of Perth and his predecessor, Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey.

“This experience was a profound one. I was privileged to see the Church at its very best and to have a role in such a significant ecclesial event, especially for the Church in Australia and Oceania. It was my first extended contact with bishops, and I found it an encouraging and hopeful one.”

“I learned from the Synod that while the Church in Australia, as in most parts of the world, faces many challenges but I am convinced the only way we can confront these challenges is by turning our gaze once again to Christ, listening to Him, learning from Him and allowing Him, through the gift of His Holy Spirit, to help us to discern the way forward.”

On 21 March 2012, Archbishop Costelloe was solemnly installed as the ninth Archbishop of Perth at St Mary’s Cathedral Perth, with more than 1500 people present.

From left: Bunbury Bishop Gerard Holohan, Geraldton Bishop Michael Morrissey, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, and Geraldton Emeritus Bishop Justin Bianchini at the blessing and opening of the new Salvatorian Spirituality Centre in Currambine on 21 November 2019. Photo: Amanda Murthy.

Archbishop Costelloe, in his homily, explained his Episcopal motto: Ego sum Via, Veritas et Vita: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

“If we do not know Christ who is the Life we will be on a pathway to death. And if we have lost our way, if we are caught in confusion, if we are a people of death rather than of life, how can we be, like the Good Shepherd in tonight’s Gospel, a people who feeds others and leads them to safe pastures?”

A six-year inquiry by the Royal Commission (2012 to 2017) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed that the Catholic Church was in fact the biggest contributor to sexual abuse in the country, at the time.

Archbishop Costelloe’s immediate response led to the development and formation of the world’s first Safeguarding Project in 2015.

Archbishop Costelloe led to the development and formation of the world’s first Safeguarding Project in 2015, with the aim of ensuring all places of worship be the safest place for children. Photo: Michelle Tan.

“My goal is to see Catholic Parishes being the safest places possible for children,” Archbishop Costelloe said, at the launch of the Safeguarding Project.

Always finding means to live out his Salesian vocation, Archbishop Costelloe played host at the 2019 Australian Catholic Youth Festival, where he spent four days connecting with over 5000 young people. His homily at the closing Mass on 10 December, remained – an encouragement to always be opened to God’s call with courage and humility.

“Don’t walk away sad from the chance to make your life a wonderful gift to others, don’t walk away sad from the chance to live your life to the full just as God intended you to when He called you into existence and don’t walk away from Jesus because He is our Way, He is our Truth, He is our Life.”

“Jesus is alive, He is here with us, and He is calling to each one of us!”