Students challenged at LifeLink launch – Be the difference in our society

26 May 2022

By The Record

Dr Debra Sayce, Archbishop Costelloe, Bishop Don and Deacon Mark Powell at the launch of LifeLink.
LifeLink Day launched (from left): The Executive Director of Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA), Dr Debra Sayce; Archbishop of Perth, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB; LifeLink Chair, Bishop Don Sproxton; and the Director of Religious Education for CEWA, Deacon Mark Powell.

Catholic students throughout Western Australia have been challenged to open their eyes to what is happening to the poorest members of society and to be inquiring enough to get to know the Christ who identifies so strongly with them.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB spoke to students via webcam on 19 May for this year’s LifeLink Day launch, commending the efforts of Catholic schools in raising funds throughout the year for the social outreach agencies of the Archdiocese of Perth.

Archbishop Costelloe was joined by the Executive Director of Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA), Dr Debra Sayce, and LifeLink Chair, Bishop Don Sproxton, in a launch compered by CEWA’s Director of Religious Education, Deacon Mark Powell.

Student Kate from Seton Catholic College asked Archbishop Costelloe what trends he saw as requiring more support from LifeLink-supported agencies.

Noting the pressure that rising interest rates would have on households with mortgages, “providing for the needs of the family becomes even more of a challenge”, the Archbishop related his personal experience of living in the heart of the city.

“There’s an ever-growing number of homeless people that I pass by, each morning or evening when I go for a walk,” he said.

“That’s a growing problem and is telling us something about how well or badly we care for those who are struggling.

“At the Cathedral, we have many people knocking on the door of the Cathedral presbytery, looking for food. And these things are growing all the time.

“So, I think we really only have to open our eyes and have a look around us, and we’ll see all kinds of needs that are a sign of the direction our society is taking, and therefore of the direction that our Christian living needs to take in order to respond to it.”

Catholic primary and secondary schools have raised more than $2.5 million since LifeLink Day was established in 1999, raising $138,363 in 2021 for the good works of LifeLink-supported agencies.

In answering student questions, the Archbishop noted the work of the LifeLink-supported drop-in centre, The Shopfront, “a drop-in centre, where no questions are asked, no judgements are made, people are just made to feel welcome and provided with a meal and provided with some company”.

Other supported agencies include Daydawn which works with Aboriginal Australians at risk of homelessness; Emmaus Community, providing independent community living for adults with mental health issues; and Identitywa which provides support to people with disabilities and their families.

In his opening remarks, Archbishop Costelloe said he had three questions for the students listening: “Who is Jesus?”, “Why does that question even matter?”, and “What has all of that got to do with LifeLink?”

“We live in an unusual time in history,” the Archbishop said. “We live in a time when a large number of people have, for the first time in history, actually abandoned belief in God, or live as though it really doesn’t matter one way or the other if God exists or not.

“One of the reasons why people are attracted to this, I think, and this might include some of you, is the thought that if God doesn’t exist, if God isn’t really interested in us, then it doesn’t really matter how we live our lives, as long as we do whatever we need to do to make ourselves happy, even if that sometimes comes at the cost of other people.

“If we take God out of the picture, then we can just worry about our own needs and our own desires and our own wants. And that often becomes the only criterion we use to make really important decisions about our life. And we see this all around us …

“This, of course, is the exact opposite of the way Jesus lived. He was convinced that his whole purpose in life was to put himself at the service of other people, even when it went against his own natural instincts, or what seemed to be the best thing for him to do for himself.

“And I think that’s especially clear when we remember that Jesus went to his death, not because he wanted to die. In fact, the night before he died, he prayed to God that God would relieve him of the suffering that lay ahead.

“But in the end, he knew that he could only be faithful to his deepest understanding of himself and what his life was all about, if he remained faithful to what he believed God (the Father) was asking of him.

“And at the heart of that was his belief that God created us so that we could live in generous service of others. That’s a different way of looking at life from the way that many people adopt these days…

“At the centre of this very important conviction of Jesus was his belief that human beings – we, us – are created in the image and likeness of the God who gives life. And, therefore, the purpose of life, our life as human beings, is to imitate God by being life-giving, life-affirming, life-supporting, and certainly not the opposite.”

CEWA Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce said students and schools had borne witness to Jesus through their fundraising and in-person through the community service programs that are a key part of Catholic education.

“The Archbishop and I hope that this year, you will once again join together and raise even more money to help our brothers and sisters in need,” Dr Sayce told the virtual gathering.

“All of us, no matter who we are, where we are, what we do, are called to make God’s dream (of fulfilling our vocations to love) come true.

“We are called to live our lives caring for one another and also for Creation. We are called to build a world where we live as sisters and brothers as one loving human family.”

More information on LifeLink, including fundraising resources for schools, is available at