Vincent Tiggeman was born just as the Great Depression was about to begin and grew up in a family with Irish, German and Scottish heritage much like the rich tapestry of many Australians.
His parents John and Annie Tiggeman (nee Gibbie) were humble people with a deep and abiding Catholic faith; it was the core of their being. His happy childhood was spent with his siblings John and Anne (both deceased) and Mary.
The family lived in the parish of Thebarton/Mile End and Vincent was educated at St Mary’s Dominican School in Franklin Street and Marist Brothers Thebarton.
At age 10 Vincent contracted polio which required a period of convalescing and it was during this time the vocation to the priesthood that Vincent would embrace was emerging. At age 12 Vincent moved out of home to join the seminary at Rostrevor. He excelled academically managing to top the State in Latin, showing a gift for languages and learning.
Vincent was chosen to complete his priestly studies in Rome and also undertook a doctorate in Canon Law at Propaganda College in Rome. It was a moment of great pride for his parents when he was ordained to the priesthood in Rome on December 21 1951. Vincent’s older brother John ran the family butcher shop and assisted significantly in enabling his parents to make the journey by boat to Rome for this special moment.
After Vincent completed his doctorate, he returned to Adelaide and was appointed secretary to Archbishop Matthew Beovich. This was a role Vincent undertook from 1955 to 1965. He also accompanied Archbishop Beovich on an ad limina visit to Rome in late 1970 and was appointed a monsignor in 1971.
While secretary to Archbishop Beovich, Vincent took testimony with regard to the cause of Mary MacKillop. It was only to emerge many years later that Vincent had made a personal vow that if he was alive when Australia’s first saint was canonised he would try to attend this momentous event. In 2010 he was able to travel to Rome for the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop – a great Australian who would have prayed in the holy space of the St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral where Mgr Tiggeman’s funeral Mass was held.
One attribute which was fortunate in him being appointed the parish priest of Hectorville in 1967 was that Vincent was fluent in Italian. This meant he could minister to the community by saying Mass in Italian. This connection was one of the reasons he was the celebrant for so many marriages – more than 2000 it has been said. He celebrated these weddings with wisdom, kindness, hope and love, making it different every time. He was a fine homilist with a very good grasp of theology and an ability to weave in practicality and a human pastoral touch.
For many years he was Judicial Vicar of the Marriage Tribunal (now the Interdiocesan Tribunal of Adelaide) and was a founding member of the Australasian Canon Law Society. He also ministered to the parishes of Christies Beach, Morphett Vale, Dulwich, Glenelg, St Peter’s and Pennington, while also working in the Tribunal for much of the time.
His ministry at various times included chaplaincy to the Catholic Women’s League, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Knights of the Southern Cross, and Catholic Radio.
In 1992 Vincent was appointed Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Adelaide, a position he held until retirement.
From his family’s perspective, Vincent was someone for whom they had great respect, but they also saw him as human, an ordinary person living out a vocation to lead, to inspire and to show love to his family and anybody he encountered.
He lived a life of dedicated service to the Church and community at large. Family life no doubt led Vincent to a richer understanding of the challenges that come some people’s way.
He had a niece who was born with a disability, and as a parish priest he had to not only bury a two-year-old child but deal with the reality that this child was his niece and the grieving parents were his sister and brother-in-law.
Vincent had a deep and abiding care for everyone he encountered. He encouraged each person to develop and use their gifts for the good of others, to give glory to God and to see all people flourish.
After attending Oakbank with some family members on Easter Monday in 1972, Vincent developed an interest in horse racing. He had a very keen eye for form and watched and observed carefully.
His forecasts of horses that would achieve honours was legendary and admired by many. It was an authentic combination of faith and Australian culture.
A loyal Crows fan and avid participant in the diocesan staff tipping competition, his beloved footy scarf was placed on the coffin with other symbols.
In the words of St Paul, Vincent ran the race to the finish and kept the faith. Thanks be to God for Vincent’s life.
Taken from the eulogies of Mgr Tiggeman’s nephew, John Leydon, and Mgr Rob Egar.