Letters & Stories
Extract from the Morning Star
Priest Profile – Fr John Thompson – Oct/Nov 1996 Issue
I was born in England (Buckinghamshire) just before the Second World War 16th May 1939. I was told that the afternoon of my departure from the maternity wing of the hospital, it was destroyed by a stray bomb – so obviously I was meant to survive.
In 1948 my mother, brother sister and I came to Australia for what I thought was going to be a holiday. We had come to live! We arrived at Union Street, Exeter in mid January 1949 with a temperature hovering in the mid 40’s. We’d left England in the freezing weather of winter, and the difference made me wonder if mother really knew what she was doing.
In 1950 our family was separated. My brother and I were sent to a Boys Home and my sister went to a Girls’ Home. Later my brother went to Walkerville Boys’ Home, and I went to “Karmigal” on Grange road. From there I rode my bicycle to Urbrae Agricultural College each day, until I was hit by a fuel tanker! Walking from then on.
While at Urbrae I got my first job ( and a chance to fulfill my dream of becoming a stockman).All I wanted in life was to ride a horse. We were in a class of 38 boys when a man came in looking for a boy to work on a farm. As you can imagine 38 hands shot up into the air. I was so overawed that I didn’t hear the man say that the farm was 400 miles from Adelaide – my hand was still up while everyone else’s was down. And so I started work at the tender age of 12 and a half in a small community called Yeelanna, approximately 45 miles north of Port Lincoln. To my surprise no horses; but I didn’t give up. I stayed farming in the area for 27 years. I wasn’t much interested in the Church and for a while I became a “bikie”. It was also around this time that I met Fr. Ralph Holden. My life gradually changed and I started going to church regularly. I became a Lay Reader and Assistant and eventually followed the path leading to ordination.
In 1980 I was accepted as an ordination candidate at St. Barnabas’ College, Belair. In my first year I was sacristan(looking after the chapel), in second year I was works manager and in my final year I was Senior Student. After Ordination I was assistant curate to Archdeacon Ian Barlow at Port Pirie. In Pirie I spent a great deal of time working with young teenagers(perhaps the motor bike helped) and I was given the title there of “FJ”. I was ordained priest in Pirie in 1984 and stayed there for another 2 years, when I accepted the parish of Ceduna. In 1988 I resigned and came to Adelaide and as you know, finished up in Exeter, not far from Union street, where my time in Australia began.