When you think of the name Geraldine Doogue, the first qualities that come to mind are warmth and compassion.
For just on 20 years, this inquisitive and intelligent woman was the host of Compass, the weekly ABC television program on religion, ethics and social values.
While her regular hosting role on Compass finished earlier this year, Geraldine will continue to be a presence on the program, hosting specials throughout 2017.
Yet this genial journalist almost didn’t become a familiar presence on our screens. In 1972, fresh from her university arts degree, the young Geraldine intended to pursue a career in the classroom before impulsively applying for a journalism cadetship with The West Australian newspaper instead.
The rest is history. And what a history it has been—a career encompassing television, radio and many awards for excellence in broadcasting. While Geraldine has moved away from regular television work, she is still hosting weekly discussion programs on Radio National.
Though retiring from television commitments should have lightened the load, Geraldine says she actually feels busier than ever with a host of new Compass specials.
“We have the Modern Prophets series and there will be a big special when the Royal Commission into Institutional Abuse of Children reports in mid-December. We have to value-add beyond what the straight news outlets will do and give it real context, not re-emphasise all the truly horrendous and shocking evidence,” Geraldine tells Warcry.
“I think the Royal Commission’s investigation was profoundly revealing, but also demoralising for believers, who I feel need quite a bit of assistance now, alongside the big questions about required change within the institutions.”
Geraldine has always been a natural communicator, and she is passionate about using these skills to reach a broader audience with her Radio National Saturday Extra program.
“I’m trying hard to bring a broader conversation to our politics, and especially foreign affairs—my dream is to engage a much wider range of Australians in that discussion and to make it more personable and accessible,” she explained.
And that’s just in the workplace. Away from the screen and the microphone Geraldine has a few other priorities.
“I’m trying to be a good mother and grandmother! I am learning on the job. Plus simply making the necessary and considerable transitions into this ‘next phase of life’, as people of my age tend to say. There is a lot more involved than I ever realised when I was young…of course!” she quipped.
Raised a Catholic, faith is still important to Geraldine but her practice of it has changed since childhood.
“Having a spiritual and religious dimension in my life is more important than ever. I am not quite so rigorous with my weekly Mass observance but am still a regular twice a month, but not always at my parish church,” Geraldine explains.
“I do seek out ritual with friends and intend to do this a bit more. However, I continue to read the epistle once a month at Mass at my local church and enjoy it a lot.”
Geraldine says that lay people are more important than ever where the Church is concerned.
“We have to discern how we can offer our talents, such as they are, to the service of the very bruised Church, whether or not its hierarchy even fully recognises how much it needs us. That is most definitely still a work in progress, but I’m certainly trying to think creatively,” she explains.
And there is one other quality in her life that this warm and gregarious woman says is vital to her happiness.
“I prioritise friendship in my life. For me, it is the glittering prize.”
Long may Geraldine Doogue continue to be an engaging presence on television and radio.