Tom Squire is one of the more than 19,000 NSW students who formally began their Higher School Certificate exams today.
But the St John Bosco College student has recently done something that’s statistically atypical – at least for someone of his 18 years of age.
Tom Squire has become a Catholic.
The burly former Rugby League player received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Communion at St John Bosco Church in Engadine a few weekends ago, in front of family and 40 of his school mates.
And the parish and school community couldn’t have been more eager to welcome him into the fold, with the presence of 10 college staff, including Principal Damien Carlton and Assistant Principal Michael Donnelly, who also served as cantor.
Tom was already well-known to Mons Brian Rayner, the parish priest of nearby St Catherine Labouré Parish.
Since the latter half of Year 10, Tom and his school mates have been helping out at the parish, packing donated goods into shipping containers bound for poor communities and schools in Fiji.
Mons Rayner said he was very happy when Tom inquired about becoming a Catholic, describing him as being a “very humorous and well-liked young guy”.
Tom says that the aid work of the Church was a major factor in his decision to become Catholic.
“The Sutherland Shire is pretty privileged, so it’s good to be able to help people who were not born into that,” Tom told The Catholic Weekly.
“The Catholic Church seems to be the most active in helping people, particularly overseas.”
Tom hopes to pursue a career in finance but is also keen to investigate global aid work, including in Belize in Central America, where his father was stationed during time spent in the army. (“He would always talk about the poverty there and how it affected the people.”)
Tom asked two of the teachers at his school—Religious Education Coordinator Moira Loader and Physical Education teacher Ben Tickle—to be his Godparents.
“Tom mentioned to me a few months ago that he was considering becoming a Catholic,” Ms Loader said.
“I didn’t push him. I just said that it was a big decision and one I would certainly support him in. He later confirmed his decision and was adamant that he wanted Mons to concelebrate with our chaplain, Fr Pete (Carroll).
“The boys have just loved this and it’s been a real buoyant time for them all as they’ve finished their schooling at the college.”