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Celebrating where it all began


It was a case of life going full circle when Monsignor John Swann celebrated Mass at St Rose of Lima Church, Kapunda, last month – on the anniversary of the day he was ordained to the priesthood in the very same church 65 years previously.

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Ordained by Archbishop James Gleeson on July 20 1957, Mgr Swann returned to live in the small country town where he grew up when he retired in 2010.

Since then he has remained active in the Northern Light parish, serving where needed at its eight Mass centres.

Attending the Mass on the anniversary of his ordination were local parishioners and members of the Teams Movement from the Blackwood area, who have played a significant part in his life.

A chaplain for the movement for more than 40 years, Mgr Swann said the members of his Team 7 had been like an extended family and over the years he had been privileged to celebrate the baptisms and marriages of many of their children and then grandchildren.

Mgr Swann’s ministry in the Archdiocese has been wide and varied, with the area of family welfare always being a focus.

In 1969 he was appointed deputy director of the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau (now Centacare) and was later director of Catholic Family Life Services.

He helped establish marriage education courses and together with colleague Carmel Clancy (now Devonish) they trained volunteer married couples to deliver the course to thousands of people in the Archdiocese. The model was so successful it was adopted in other dioceses around the country.

For 12 years he served on the Diocesan Finance Council and many may know him as a past columnist for The Southern Cross, a guest on the Catholic Hour radio show and the many Catholic television programs he helped produce.

In addition, he was a priest in the Tranmere, Adelaide Hills, Parkside and Mount Gambier parishes.

Reflecting on his six-plus decades in the priesthood, Mgr Swann, 88, said he continually thanked God for his good health that meant he could continue to be active in pastoral duties.

“I am still involved with the National Council of Priests and am part of the editorial committee for its magazine, The Swag. I also continue to support senior priests in the Archdiocese as their representative on the Clergy Care Council,” he said.

“Looking back over 65 years I am amazed at all the changes that have taken place in society and in the Church, and I have taken great interest in the recent Plenary Council and its outcomes.

“It has addressed a number of issues in our Church but there is still so much more to do. For example, I was disappointed they did not address clericalism and seminary formation which Pope Francis has identified as a major problem in our Church.”



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