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10 Questions - Archbishop Mark Coleridge

Summer Reading

Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge steps up to answer InQueensland Summer Readings’s 10 Questions

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Did anything good come out of 2021?

The pandemic brought out the best and the worst in us through the year. The best was a deeper sense of solidarity, with individuals willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the whole community. The worst was the selfishness that insists upon “my rights” over and against the whole community. In the state, the nation and around the world, solidarity is the only way forward. The alternative is the virus of selfishness which is, as Pope Francis has said, worse than any strain of Covid-19.

What’s your favourite summer memory?

As a kid when we lived in Adelaide it was always exciting for the family to drive to Melbourne for the Christmas break. I don’t know how we all fitted into the old Holden but we did. Leaving before dawn, we’d head through the hills on to the Western Highway, spot the white horses, stop for lunch and roll into Melbourne in the late afternoon. It was an epic. Then there were the cricketing triumphs – either individual successes or winning a premiership. Those sunlit days in the field are still a vivid memory.

Are you a summer or a winter person?

I’ve always preferred a warm climate to a cold one, which is one of the reasons I like Brisbane, having grown up down south. So I guess in general I’m a summer person. That said, the winter in Queensland is great and the summer can be not so much hot as humid. So I guess in Brisbane I’m an all-year-round person, as long as I’ve got aircon for about three months.

How do you stay resilient during periods of change, like the year just gone?

I draw strength from the excellent people I have around me – people I work with, people I serve, people who look after my house. I sometimes feel I don’t deserve the support of such people, but I have it – and it’s a great boon, especially in a year like this. I couldn’t do the job without them. But my real secret is prayer. Each morning I spend an hour in meditation, and it’s like charging my phone. If I don’t charge the phone, it doesn’t work. If I don’t pray each morning, I don’t work.

Who were your heroes of 2021?

Heroes tend to be for people younger than me. But I’ve been mightily impressed by Pope Francis for many reasons. It’s quite something that a man of 85 who’s had major surgery in recent times can still be a real breath of fresh air in the Church and the world. When leadership is in crisis across the board, he shows the way. But more and more as I grow older and wiser I’m drawn to the unsung “little” heroes whom I meet all the time.

What’s your secret ambition?

Ambition also tends to be for people younger than me, so I’m kind of over ambition. But I guess I’m still ambitious to do the best I can in the ministry entrusted to me, especially to work for the right kind of change in the Church I serve. At another level, I still want to visit China and Japan before I die, even though my taste for travel has evaporated.

What’s your favourite holiday spot?

I’ve lived in Italy for years and I always loved Tuscany for a break, and nothing has changed there. It now seems so far away, but I’d still say yes to a Tuscan vacanza at any time of the year.

What are you hoping for in 2022?

Like everyone else, I’m hoping that the pandemic will recede so that we can return to something like a normal life, even if things may never be quite the same again. I’m hoping, too, that my health and energy levels hold good so that I can do what needs to be done. As the years roll by I feel there’s so much still be to be done. But I guess I’ll be saying that on my death-bed.

What have you been watching on television/streaming services lately?

I don’t do streaming services, and the only thing I watch for any length of time on TV these days is cricket, and I watch a lot of that. Cricket has always been a passion of mine – as a player years ago but now as a spectator. I always watch with the sound off because I find that more meditative and more like watching the game at the ground. I find my own internal commentary more interesting than most of the TV commentary.

Any people or businesses to watch in 2022?

One of the “businesses” I keep an eye on is the Vatican where I worked for some years. There are always surprises with Pope Francis, who is expert at pulling rabbits out of the hat when you least expect it. So 2022 could see some fresh rabbits from the old hat. He says that this is not so much an era of change as a change of era, so I’ll be watching for evidence of that over in Rome where our Aussie Ambassador, Chiara Porro, is also keeping an eye on things.



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