Six lay faithful received an opportunity to further their studies in religious studies, thanks to the annual BJ Hickey Scholarship program, founded by former Archbishop of Perth, Emeritus Archbishop Barry Hickey.
Archdiocese of Perth Episcopal Vicar for Adult Faith and Education Father Vincent, presented at the award ceremony held on Friday 11 February, at St Mary’s Cathedral Function Room, where he spoke about the importance of studying Scripture and how beneficial it is for one’s formation to adult faith and for their study of Theology.
In his welcome speech for the occasion, Centre for Faith Enrichment Director, Dr Marco Ceccarelli thanked all present for their contributions, and congratulated the scholars Sofia McDonnel, Jennifer Fazzari, Judy Castello, Lucy Louise Harris, Gabriel MacFarlane and Patsy Wilson for their passion to know more about the faith.
Sofia McDonnel receives funds to undertake aDiploma in Catholic Youth Ministry at Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation, Jennifer Fazzari receives funds to undertake a Diploma in Catholic Youth Ministry at Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation, Judy Castellino receives funds to undertake a unit onLeadership and Justice at the Broken Bai Institute – The Australian Institute of Theological Education, Lucy Louise Harris receives funds to undertake a Diploma in Catholic Youth Ministry at Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation, Gabriel MacFarlane receives funds to undertake a Diploma in Catholic Youth Ministry at Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation and Patsy Wilson receives funds to undertake a Diploma in Catholic Youth Ministry at Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation.
Dr Ceccareli proceeded to recount the words of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis, released on September 30, 2019 on the Feast of Saint Jerome, when the Holy Father instituted the annual observance of the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time as “Sunday of the Word of God”, devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God.
Quoting the words Pope Francis, this time in reference to St Jerome, who is best known for his translation of most of the Bible into Latin, Dr Ceccarelli explained that one of the problems facing society today, is illiteracy; the hermeneutic skills that make us credible interpreters and translators of our own cultural tradition are in short supply.
“….I would like to pose a challenge to young people in particular: begin exploring your heritage. Christianity makes you heirs of an unsurpassed cultural patrimony of which you must take ownership,” he said.
“Be passionate about this history which is yours. Dare to fix your gaze on the young Jerome who, like the merchant in Jesus’ parable, sold all that he had to buy the “pearl of great price” (Mt 13:46).”
Speaking to Ms McDonnel on hopes for her scholarship, she commented; “My faith is the core part of my being. I have a desire to learn more about Scripture because we can come to know God more through the Word, He has given to us.”
“We often take the Scriptures, which are so easily accessible, for granted. There is so much history and meaning behind them that is frequently never explored and these studies are giving me a new appreciation for this great gift,” she affirmed.
“I want to enrich the faith of those in the Archdiocese with the knowledge I gain, specifically through evangelisation to the youth. I love youth ministry and have found that many of the best questions are asked by the young people! It is clear to see that they have a natural yearning to really know love and have meaning to their lives; the only One who can fulfill this desire is God.”
Jennifer Fazzari hopes the scholarship she received would transform her and demonstrate to people in parishes and the people of Australia, who have never encountered the love of God, who God is and how amazing having a personal relationship with Jesus could be, through living out her faith.
“Study of Scripture is very important to me. I believe that Scripture is God’s Word to all people, and He actively communicates to us through Scripture. I would love to hear what He’s saying to me through Scripture and learn what He’s saying to me through Scripture means,” she said.
“I also believe we can learn more about God and Jesus’ character through studying scripture, and I would love to become more familiar with who they are. In addition, I would also love to learn about the Old Testament, specifically, how relevant the Old Testament is to us nowadays as followers of Christ, and if all the stories in the Old Testament are literal or symbolic stories.
“Acts 2 College of Mission and Evangelisation allows its students, after they’ve finished, to become youth ministers who visit parishes and schools! When I am a youth minister at a Parish and am working full-time in School Ministry, I would love to tell them about this knowledge that I have gained about Scripture,” she concluded.
Scholarships from the BJ Hickey Biblical Foundation are offered to lay people residing in the Archdiocese of Perth. They are for biblical studies of any length at any level, locally or overseas and are available to those with a desire to develop their knowledge and use of the Scriptures to form a firm biblical foundation for their everyday lives.
One does not need to be an academic to apply for a scholarship – they just need a firm desire to know the Scriptures better and to help others with that knowledge.
The Biblical Foundation is managed by the Centre for Faith Enrichment and has a twofold mission of assisting Catholics in developing their knowledge and use of the Scriptures and to offer scholarships for biblical studies through the BJ Hickey Biblical Foundation.