Where are they now - Fr Hugh Thomas (SPC 1956)
author: Lorrie Liston
The College reconnects with Fr Hugh Thomas (SPC 1956) who spent much of his life as a missionary priest in the Philippines.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
After my ordination, in Ararat, by my uncle Bishop Frank Thomas of Geraldton WA, in July, 1965, I was appointed to the Philippines, which fulfilled a childhood dream for me. I spent over 22 years there preaching missions in the rural 'barrios' of the Bikol and Tagalog regions. Life could be primitive and tough, but was very rewarding. There were 50, mostly young, Australian Redemptorists there when I went there and many other Aussie priests from several other Congregations e.g. Columbans, Jesuits. After my time in the Philippines I spent 10 years in Newcastle, 12 years in Perth and have now been almost five years in Sydney. Notice, I have never been appointed in my home State, which has made it difficult to come to SPC events. Despite my age, I am in perfect health and give retreats, and an occasional parish mission in all the States of Australia and, for the last 10 years in Indonesia. I have been travelling regularly to Indonesia to give retreats to priests and help establish chapels of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
No doubt at all, Brother Ulmer was the teacher who most impressed me. I had four subjects with him. He was a superb teacher and I am grateful I had him for so many subjects. We called him “Fudd”, as in those days Elmer Fudd was a popular comic character.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
I appreciated the opportunity boarders had for daily Mass and I believe that helped contribute to my vocation as a priest. I went from St Patrick's to finish high school at the Redemptorist Minor Seminary in Galong, New South Wales.
What are your favourite memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
I was a boarder in 1956, an Olympic Year when the rowing events were held on Lake Wendouree, something very exciting for us SPC boys. I loved rowing on the Lake with the Olympic teams. We specially loved the French team who were very friendly and let us practise our French on them.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
I am truly grateful for the education I had at SPC and have found my life as priest one full of joy.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
Give the thought of becoming a priest a serious one. To serve so Good a Master as Jesus does not disappoint.