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Fond farewell for Mt Gambier duo


The Mount Gambier Catholic community recently farewelled Fr Peter Fountain and seminarian James Thomson.

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Fr Peter has left the South East after 22 years of priestly ministry in the area. He began his ministry in Bordertown in 2000 and was there until 2010 when he moved to Naracoorte/Penola Parish as parish priest.

In 2018 he semi-retired to Mount Gambier parish and took on the task of assisting with Masses and hearing confessions in Mount Gambier, Millicent, Port MacDonnell and Beachport until he took ill in 2021. Since then, he has been a regular fixture in St Paul’s Church hearing reconciliation every Saturday morning.

The parish also said goodbye to James Thomson who will be ordained to the diaconate in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral on September 3. He went to Mount Gambier in January on parish placement as part of his journey to becoming a priest.

Over the past seven months, James became a well-known and much-liked figure in the parish, whether it be teaching and mentoring for the Little Lambs Program or helping around the parish grounds with the Men’s Gardening Group. He also trained altar servers, assisted at Masses and conducted Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion.

On Sunday August 14, about 130 people attended a joint farewell lunch for Fr Peter and James in the Mount Gambier Parish Hall.

In his speech for Fr Peter, parish priest Fr Peter Zwaans did some quick calculations and worked out that he had celebrated more than 23,000 Masses during his 50 years in the priesthood, and that number didn’t include school Masses and holy days of obligation.

Fr Zwaans said Fr Peter had quickly become a favourite with parishioners.

“In fact, his last Saturday of hearing confessions, there was a long line of parishioners waiting to get one last confession in before Fr Peter left,” Fr Zwaans said.

He presented a crucifix to Fr Peter to hang on the wall of his room at Francis Murphy Villa in Adelaide. The crucifix represents a sign and memorial of Fr Peter preaching ‘Christ crucified’.

Fr Peter said he had enjoyed his time in Mount Gambier over the past few years. One of the highlights was attending ‘Meal after Mass’ held at a local venue on the second Saturday of each month following the Vigil Mass.

In his farewell to James, Fr Zwaans thanked him for his “great service” to Church and parish, adding that everything he did was appreciated by parishioners.

Acknowledging that after James is ordained a Deacon he will be able to officiate at baptisms and funerals, Fr Zwaans presented James with the gift of the book A Rite of Christian Burial.

“Peter and James will be very much missed by the parishioners of Mount Gambier and Millicent parishes,” he said.


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