Archbishop Costelloe: Ask God to continue to raise up people who have hearts that drive them to reach out with compassion

08 Dec 2022

By Jamie O'Brien

St Pat’s CEO Michael Piu, Fremantle Parish Priest and Member, Board of Directors, Father John Sebastian OMI, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe and St Pat’s Board Chair Dr Pat Colgan AM cut the cake for the 50th anniversary of St Pat’s Community Centre, Thursday 1 December 2022. Photo: Supplied/St Pat’s Community Centre.

Great works of mercy and charity begin from very simple and humble beginnings, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB has said last week, as he joined with the St Patrick’s Community Support Centre – affectionately known as St Pat’s – in celebrating it’s 50th anniversary.

The occasion, on Thursday 1 December, was marked with a gathering of the St Pat’s community, as well as the launch a commemorative book depicting stories and voices of 50 years of St Pat’s history. 

In his speech for the occasion, Archbishop Costelloe explained that 50 years ago, Br Ignatius Hannick OMI came across an elderly man under a tree, close to St Patrick’s Basilica in Fremantle.

St Pat’s CEO Michael Piu, Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe and St Pat’s Board Chair Dr Pat Colgan AM on the occasion of the 50th anniversary St Patrick’s Community Support Centre, Thursday 1 December 2022. Photo: Supplied/ St Patrick’s Community Support Centre.

At the time Fremantle, Archbishop Costelloe noted, had something of a rough reputation and had become a haven for people who in one way or another had been shunned or excluded from other parts of society.

“People who, in Pope Francis’s words, were on the margins – the site of a homeless man would not have been all that uncommon,” Archbishop Costelloe highlighted.

“It seems, however, that there was something about this man which touched the heart of Brother Ignatius,” he said.

Archbishop Costelloe continued by explaining that Br Ignatius went back into the presbytery, gathered what was left over from the community meal, and took it out to give it to the man.

“It was not very long before Br Ignatius, with the help of the presbytery housekeeper, was regularly preparing up to 100 hampers to give people who would queue up on the Presbytery veranda.”

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe speaks at the 50th anniversary of the St Pat’s Community Centre, Thursday 1 December. Photo: Supplied/ St Patrick’s Community Support Centre.

St Patrick’s Community Support Centre CEO, Michael Piu, said it was wonderful to be able to celebrate and reflect on St Pat’s journey over the last 50 years with Archbishop Costelloe, Bishop Sproxton, and more than 100 guests at the Fremantle Basilica Parish Hall, where our story began.

“In particular, it was an important opportunity to pause to honour the memory and incredible legacy of Br Ignatius Hannick OMI, and the mission he founded in the spirit of the Oblate Charism, which has reached out to so many of those most poor and marginalized in our community over the years,” Mr Piu said. 

“Many who attended played an important part in St Pat’s 50-year history, and indeed some had generously contributed to our oral history ‘50 Years of St Pat’s’ which was launched on the day, collecting personal reflections and anecdotes from various perspectives about St Pat’s and what it means to them,” Mr Piu continued.

Continuing his speech, Archbishop Costelloe highlighted the three reasons for the special gathering on the occasion of the 50th anniversary.

“The first is to thank God first and foremost, and then all those who have allowed God to work through them for the last fifty years, for the healing of wounds and the warming of hearts which has changed and enrich the lives of so many,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe speaks at the 50th anniversary of the St Patrick’s Community Support Centre, Thursday 1 December. Photo: Supplied/ St Patrick’s Community Support Centre.

“The second is to thank God first and foremost, and then all those who allow God to work through them, that still today people can come to have their wounds healed and their hearts warmed through their contact, not just with the services St Pat’s offers but more importantly, with the people who offer those services,” he said.

“And thirdly, to ask God to continue to raise up people who have eyes to see the needs of others, ears to hear their cries, and hearts that drive them to reach out with compassion, with tenderness and with care.”