Former governor says service is part of the life of a committed Catholic

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Former governor says service is part of the life of a committed Catholic

South Hobart parishioner and former Tasmanian governor the Honourable William Cox AC RFD ED describes his parish as one full of people willing to serve.

“It’s not a big parish, there’s only 40 or so regular attenders there and pretty well everybody’s got a job of some sort.”

Mr Cox says he believes service is simply part of the life of a committed Catholic.

“I just think that anything that you do is what’s expected of you really. If you are a committed Catholic, you have to accept some responsibilities and if there is something to be done, it’s all hands to the pump,” he said.

Mr Cox’s family moved within the South Hobart parish boundaries when he was only three years old and he began serving as an altar boy at a young age. He attended St Virgil’s College, Xavier College (Victoria), and the University of Tasmania.

Aside from a period in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s, he has always called St Francis Xavier’s Church home. A constant in Mr Cox’s life of faith has been attending weekly Sunday Mass.

“It’s refreshing – each week, it keeps you going,” he said.
A regular lector at Masses since the 1970’s, he also serves on the parish’s finance committee, which – like many committees – is in need of more members.

“It’s a bit hard to find somebody,” Mr Cox said.

“People are so busy these days, we’ve got a lot of people who I’m sure would be more than willing to do it.”

Mr Cox is no stranger to making service part of a busy life. He continued his parish involvement during his appointment to the Supreme Court of Tasmania in 1982, and then in his role of Chief Justice from 1995 until 2004.
Even during his time as Governor of Tasmania (Mr Cox is only the second Tasmanian-born Governor in the State’s history), he remained on the reading roster, but said they may have let him off when he had to be away.

“I used to drive myself over from Government House and attend Mass at St Francis Xavier each Sunday,” Mr Cox said.

“Certainly when I had the opportunity, I would read,” he said.

“After I left Government House, one of the Passionist Fathers was looking for a volunteer to help out at St John’s hospital distributing Holy Communion up there so I did that for a number of years.”

He describes distributing Holy Communion as a powerful experience.

“It was amazing: a lot of people would come up to me, complete strangers, years afterwards and say, ‘I remember you used to bring me Holy Communion!’”
Until recently, he was still taking Holy Communion to a housebound friend who has only lately passed away.
In addition to parish service, Mr Cox is currently Acting Chairperson of the Archdiocesan Foundation Committee which meets regularly to process requests from individuals and parishes for financial assistance. He is also the patron of Bethlehem House, a work of the St Vincent de Paul Society combatting men’s homelessness.

Photo: A long time parishioner at St Francis Xavier’s Church in South Hobart, the Honourable William Cox says that all Catholics have the responsibility to serve where there are areas of need.