By Anthony Barich
Women priests, contraception, miracles and favourite footy teams were among the hundreds of issues that Perth students asked Archbishop Barry Hickey and his Auxilliary Bishop Donald Sproxton during a live webcast to launch the annual LifeLink Appeal last week.
The exercise of answering live by webcast questions emailed to the bishops that has been done since 2001 draws students into the Catholic family, the Archbishop said, and teaches them about the faith and how to live it.
“It binds them closer to the Church, and we believe there is something valuable for students to speak to bishops who they might otherwise not get the chance to meet,” he told discovery.
LifeLink Day seeks to increase students’ understanding of the Church’s response to people in needs within the community; instill a sense of responsibility to those less fortunate; provide education on how LifeLink social service agencies assist 35,000 WA families and individuals annually; and encourage a “practical demonstration of faith” by fundraising for LifeLink.
The Archdiocese hopes to raise $65,000 in total from schools by December 31. Last year $61,098 was raised to support the 13 Church social support agencies like i.d.entitywa, the Emmanuel Centre, Cross Roads, Shopfront, Catholic Migrant Centre and Day Dawn Hope centre, among others.
Along with gaining a greater understanding of the Church’s stances on pressing issues like euthanasia, the students gained an insight into the personalities of Perth’s bishops, with Archbishop Hickey revealing that if he weren’t a priest he’d like to present classical music on the radio.
Upon being asked by a Santa Maria student, the Archbishop also sang for the students live, prompting another student to ask how he come he has such a beautiful voice…though he said he doubts he’d get very far on Australian Idol…
One student even caused red faces when, observantly, she asked why the cross around Bishop Sproxton’s neck was bigger than Archbishop Hickey’s cross. The Archbishop, grinning, reminded them of a “secret”: that he has other crosses bigger than the bishop’s.
Archbishop Hickey later told discovery that keeping things light-hearted hopefully made it easier for the students to relate to them and be open to asking questions.
When asked what made them want to become priests, the Archbishop said he always wanted to be priests , but Bishop Sproxton said a priest inspired him in his high school years.