Famed Life-Long Atheist Baptized at 85 Years Old: ‘This Took Too Long’
In response to the “gnawing pain in my heart and soul about the meaning of life,” Australia’s former
governor-general, Bill Hayden, a life-long atheist, was recently baptized at the age of 85.
After living a great deal of his life in denial of the Creator, the former politician renounced his atheism
and joined the Catholic Church. He said witnessing so many selfless acts of compassion by Christians
over his lifetime — as well as a season of reflection following a stroke — inspired his decision.
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According to The Catholic Leader, Hayden was baptized at St. Mary’s Church in Ipswich, near
Brisbane, on Sept. 9. He said at the time, “This took too long, and now I am going to be devoted. From
this day forward, I’m going to vouch for God.”
Hayden told The Australian he “always regarded” himself as a “fellow traveler with Catholicism,”
even declaring he was Catholic on official forms, though he never made a public commitment to the
“I would go to Mass every Sunday and then go to benediction when I was a teenager,” he said. “I didn’t
know that I wasn’t officially a Catholic, and found that out only later, when my sister did the family
Ultimately, after his stroke in 2014, the former governor-general said he discovered “more to life than
just me.” He continued, “I had to make a dedication of myself for the good of others, before God. I felt
The Catholic priest who baptized Hayden, Father Peter Dillon, said the well-known lawmaker had a
change of heart several months ago.
“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,” the priest explained.
Hayden noted he was prompted to finally turn to God after a hospital visit from Sister of Mercy Angela
Mary Doyle, a 93-year-old nun famous for her work with the poor. Hayden said he “always felt
embraced and loved by her Christian example.”
“Dallas [his wife], our daughter Ingrid and I recently visited Sister Angela Mary in the Mater Hospital
where she was a patient,” he recalled. “The next morning I 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.”