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EXCLUSIVE: WA Catholic primary students open their hearts to those in need for LifeLink


Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe referred to the words of Saint Mary Mackillop in his speech for the 2017 LifeLink Day Launch for Primary Schools, who said, ‘never see a need without doing something about it’. Photo: Ron Tan.

By Caroline Smith and Jamie O’Brien

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe has last week emphasised the importance of seeing others in need through Jesus’ parable of the rich man, during an address to primary students as part of his annual LifeLink Day initiative.

More than 550 students from 73 Catholic primary schools across the Archdiocese of Perth came together on Wednesday 7 June at Newman College, Churchlands for the launch, which aims to share with students our responsibility to help care for those who reach out for help and how the Church in Perth responds via LifeLink.


Students from Catholic primary schools across Perth made a gold coin donation to receive a ‘paper heart’ on which they were encouraged to draw a picture or write a message of support to someone in need in the community as part of the 2017 LifeLink Day. Photo: Ron Tan.

Prior to the event, students from across Perth Catholic primary schools made a gold coin donation to receive a ‘paper heart’ on which they were encouraged to draw a picture or write a message of support to someone in need in the community.

With anticipation that students would collect 34,000 hearts - representing the number of people helped by LifeLink agencies each year, more than 40,000 hearts were then collected and united into the shape of a large heart shape on the Newman College school oval by the students and teachers present.

The powerful visual demonstration aimed to show the students what can be achieved by working together to help make a difference in the lives of those who reach out for help.

Addressing the students and staff present – as well as those watching the event via the LifeLink website livestream, Archbishop Costelloe referred to the words of Saint Mary Mackillop, ‘never see a need without doing something about it’, adding that students could help others through their support for LifeLink agencies, or by supporting people they encountered at school and elsewhere.

“Mary Mackillop never lost her heart, and so her eyes were always open and on the lookout for people in need, and the people in need might be those that you go back to school with in the bus, or they might be the kid that’s sitting on their own at lunchtime with no-one to talk to, or they might be the ones that are getting bullied,” he said.

“And if you’ve got a heart like Mary Mackillop did, unlike the rich man who didn’t have a heart, then you’ll have your eyes open, and you’ll be saying to yourself, what could I do to help this person?”


Students from 73 primary schools across the Archdiocese of Perth gathered recently at Newman College in Churchlands to show their support for Catholic agencies helping people in need, at LifeLink Day for Primary Schools. Photo: Ron Tan.

Speaking also about the rich young man, the Archbishop said he believes the problem is that he lost his heart.

“He went in and out of his home every day and he didn’t even notice this poor, sick, sad and hungry man lying there who he could have helped if he wanted to,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

“He failed to see that the person was there and that the person needed some help. And I think that’s the point that Jesus is trying to get across to us in the story - what makes us a good person isn’t just the good things that we do, it’s also the things that we avoid not doing.

“I think the message of the story is that good people notice that there are other people in need and they want to help.”


Bishop Don Sproxton highlighted the role of LifeLink agencies. Photo: Ron Tan.

In his presentation for the occasion, Auxiliary Bishop and Chair of LifeLink, Don Sproxton, highlighted the role of LifeLink agencies such as the Emmanuel Centre, Emmaus Community, Identitywa, The Shopfront and Djooraminda, in providing support to people in the WA community in need due to homelessness, unemployment, mental illness, domestic violence and other issues.

“What we hope to achieve through LifeLink Day is to share with you how the Church responds to people in need in the community and to remind ourselves that Jesus taught us that we all have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters in need,” he said.

“I’m pleased to say that you have all embraced and enthusiastically participated in LifeLink Day ever since it first began in 1999, and we are grateful for the ongoing partnership of Catholic Education Western Australia and grateful to you principals, teachers and students from our primary schools.

“Last year we joined together to raise more than $120,000 for LifeLink Day. The Archbishop and I hope that this year, with your generous help, we will achieve $130,000. We are excited to see the result of your efforts when we join for the unveiling of the LifeLink Day Hearts later this morning.”

Dr Tim McDonald, Executive Director of CEWA, thanked the staff and students who had participated in the display and the additional work they had done in support of LifeLink.

“Your involvement in LifeLink enables the work of Catholic agencies to serve those who find themselves on the margins of society. And what a wonderful thing to do, to serve those who are on the margins because of poverty, or poor health or domestic violence or unemployment,” he said.

“You’re contributing to that work. And like the Archbishop put that fantastic challenge out by Mary Mackillop, it’s not just the one-off event that happens with LifeLink, but how do you have the eyes, the heart and the ears to hear the needs of those around you day in day out?”