Former governor-general Bill Hayden baptised

Bill Hayden and Sr Angela Mary Doyle on the day of his baptism (The Catholic Leader/Alan Edgecomb)

At the age of 85, and after a lifetime as a declared atheist, former Labor leader and governor-general Bill Hayden has been baptised as a Catholic. Source: The Catholic Leader.

“There’s been a gnawing pain in my heart and soul about what is the meaning of life. What’s my role in it?” Mr Hayden said.

Now in declining health, the former federal opposition leader and foreign minister said he hoped his new-found faith might encourage others as the Church passes through difficult times.

“This took too long, and now I am going to be devoted.

“From this day forward I’m going to vouch for God,” Mr Hayden told The Catholic Leader as he prepared to be welcomed into the Church at St Mary’s Church, Ipswich, west of Brisbane, on September 9.

Fr Peter Dillon said he felt a “real closeness” Mr Hayden as he baptised him.

“It was a big thing for him … an act of submission to the fact that there was no denying for him that God is real and he had come to discover that,” he said

Mr Hayden attributed his conversion to the influence of his own mother, who was Catholic, and of the Ursuline Sisters, who taught him at primary school.

However, it was a recent hospital visit to see Sister of Mercy Angela Mary Doyle that proved the pivotal moment in Mr Hayden’s faith journey.

“I have always felt embraced and loved by her Christian example,” Mr Hayden said of the 93-year-old who has been a lifelong inspiration of service to him, and who was among the congregation at the baptism.

The morning after visiting Sr Angela Mary, Mr Hayden said he woke with “the strong sense that I had been in the presence of a holy woman. So after dwelling on these things I found my way back to the core of those beliefs – the Church.”

FULL STORY

Former atheist and political leader Bill Hayden baptised at age 85 at St Mary’s Church, Ipswich (The Catholic Leader)

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Ex-Labor leader Bill Hayden, 85, baptised into Catholic Church (The Australian

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