Anthony Cantwell Papps was the third child of the late George and Patricia Papps. He attended primary school in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory and completed his secondary education at Christian Brothers College, Wakefield Street, matriculating in 1971.
When he was about four years old, his elder sister Jan asked Tony what he wanted to be when he grew up. He replied ‘the Pope’.
His vocation never left him. At the age of 16 he left home for St Francis Xavier’s Seminary, Rostrevor, where he completed his tertiary education and studied for the priesthood.
He was ordained on December 9 1978. His first appointment on January 21 1979 was as assistant priest at Morphett Vale.
In February 1981 Fr Tony was elected as a member of the Senate of Priests as a representative of the Southern Region. He continued until September 1983 when he was appointed parish priest of Pinnaroo.
In January 1988 he was appointed parish priest of Hallett Cove. This was a relatively new parish and Fr Tony left his mark here with the building of the St Martin de Porres Church and presbytery. He developed lasting bonds with this parish and its people, so much so that this is where he wished to be buried.
While at Hallett Cove he was also appointed a member of the Council of Priests.
Throughout his ministry Fr Tony had a significant influence on the life of the diocese in the various positions he held.
He also studied, completing a Diploma of Education, and in January 1996 he was appointed part time director of the Priests Continuing Education Committee and an ex officio member of the Council of Priests. He also served in the national committee for the Further Education of Priests.
In April 1996 he took up the position of parish priest of Kapunda. But his term there was cut short when in September 1997 he was given approval to move on loan to Darwin Diocese where he served as Vicar General.
On his return in January 2001 he was appointed parish priest of Aberfoyle Park.
Around this time Fr Tony began to experience a number of health issues. Hence, at the beginning of 2004 he took up a part time position as consultant in Faith Formation at the Catholic Education Office. At the same time he was appointed priest assisting in the parish of Colonel Light Gardens, Goodwood and Kingswood. He retired from the Catholic Education Office in 2018 but continued saying weekly Mass at Kingwood, Goodwood and Colonel Light Gardens until recent times due to ill health.
For more than 25 years Fr Tony was a member of a priests’ fraternity group.
In October 2010 he attended the canonisation of St Mary MacKillop at the Vatican.
In his spare time Tony loved watching sport, mainly football, and DVDs. He enjoyed reading, doing the crossword and playing the guitar. He loved entertaining his friends at home or by going out for a meal.
At his funeral, his long-time friend from school days at CBC, Fr Dean Marin, spoke of the many times they holidayed together, travelling to various parts of Australia and overseas. Referring to Fr Tony’s heath struggles, Fr Dean acknowledged the wonderful support Tony received from his family as well as many long standing friends from the various parishes where he served.
Fr Tony served his ministry for 41 years. He was a very gentle, quietly spoken man with a quick wit and a quirky sense of humour.
He will be always remembered, and forever loved by his siblings Jeff, Kerry and Jan, his nieces and nephews and of course his beloved four-legged loyal companion Pepper, who was present at his funeral Mass.
In Fr Tony’s words – ‘go gently’.
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