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Child Protection Week Mass 2020: ‘Listen to the voice of children and put children first’


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB celebrated Safeguarding Sunday Mass on 13 September, joined by concelebrants Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Vicar General Fr Peter Whitely, and Episcopal Vicar for Education and Faith Formation Fr Vincent Glynn, with Fr Garner Vergara as Master of Ceremonies. Photo: Ron Tan.

By Eric Martin

The Perth Catholic community united on 13 September for the 2020 Child Protection Week Mass, recognising the valuable contribution that the 237 Safeguarding Officers make on behalf of young people.

The theme for Child Protection Week this year was “Putting children first”, as Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB celebrated Safeguarding Sunday Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, joined by concelebrants Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Vicar General Fr Peter Whitely, and Episcopal Vicar for Education and Faith Formation Fr Vincent Glynn, with Fr Garner Vergara as Master of Ceremonies.


Archdiocesan Vicar General Father Peter Whitely proclaimed the Gospel on 13 September 2020 at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth. Photo: Ron Tan.

At the beginning of Mass, Archbishop Costelloe made a special welcome to the Safeguarding Officers present for the occasion.

He pointed out that although the Archdiocese has been doing its best to respond to the issue for a long time, it “still has a long way to go and that we must always remain vigilant”.

“I personally am deeply convinced that this will remain a major priority for me in my remaining time as Archbishop of Perth, as it has been in the eight-and-a-half years in which I have held this position,” Archbishop Costelloe said in his homily.

“Safeguarding Sunday is an expression of our belief that it is only with the help of God’s grace and God’s Holy Spirit that we can continue to respond with courage, with compassion and with determination to this terrible part of the story of the Church.

“The survivors of sexual abuse and their families and friends, the whole Catholic community and our society deserves nothing less and demands nothing less from us. And I believe that I can truly say that God expects nothing less from us.”


Several of the Perth Archdiocese’s dedicated Safeguarding Officers were present for the Child Protection Week Sunday Mass on 13 September at St Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Ron Tan.

At the heart of the Archdiocese’s response is the Safeguarding Project, with Archbishop Costelloe describing its volunteers as “an army of generous, committed and dedicated people who work as Safeguarding Officers in our local parishes”.

“Many of them have been able to join us for Mass this morning and again I would like to take this opportunity thank them for their generosity and commitment, to express my gratitude and my admiration for them and to ask all of us, everyone here in the Cathedral to pray for them, for the parish communities they serve and to pray for all those in our Archdiocese who in various ways, often hidden, are working to make our present and our future so very different from the shame of the past.”

After the Mass, the attending Safeguarding Officers were joined in the Parish Centre by the members of the curia and the five finalists (and their families) of the Safeguarding video competition open to Catholic youths and supported by Catholic Education WA, represented at the event by Executive Director Dr Debra Sayce.

The finalists were Ashlin Kanichai from St Joseph’s Church, Queens Park Parish; Isabelle Lyra from Chisholm Catholic College; Christine Reji from Our Lady Queen of Apostles Church, Riverton Parish; and Mary Carter and Rebecca Atwood from Sacred Heart Church, Thornlie Parish.


The 2020 Child Protection Week video was played at the close of Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on Sunday 13 September. Photo: Ron Tan.

Their efforts were on display in the “2020 National Child Protection Showreel”, with the overall winners Mary Carter and Rebecca Atwood – as voted online by their peers – announced and presented with a $500 gift voucher by Archbishop Costelloe.

Each of the other three finalists received a $100 gift voucher.

Archdiocesan Safeguarding Project Coordinator Barbara Blayney explained that the premise behind the video competition was to listen to the voices of the young people on what matters to them in putting their needs first.

“And there were so many different ways that they expressed that: through cartoons; music, prayer, walking through nature; right through to hearing the voice of the young people themselves,” she said.

Ms Blayney explained that what also matters to young people is getting the opportunity to participate in the community and the health and wellbeing of the Catholic community, especially when expressed through family connections.

“So that came through as well, that young people do turn to their parents, turn to their family when they want to talk to someone about something,” she said.

“There is a strong connection with family, a strong connection with school, and a very strong, strong connection with the Church – it was really great that all these, pillars of Safeguarding that we promote, were clearly coming through in the voice of the young people.”

You can find Archbishop Costelloe’s homily on Child Protection Week Mass 2020 on The Record YouTube Channel by Clicking Here