CHURCHGOERS in Black Bourton, Brize Norton and Carterton are being asked to play a part in celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the ordination of their former vicar.
The Rev Canon Frank Watts, 83, was the vicar of Black Bourton with Carterton from 1960 to 1963, then the vicar of Brize Norton with Carterton from 1963 to 1969, before emigrating to Australia with his family.
He now lives in Shelley, a suburb of Perth in Western Australia. Father Alan Brodie will be preaching at a celebration service at St Andrew’s Church in Shelley in June, and would like to receive messages of congratulation from former West Oxfordshire parishioners of Mr Watts to be read out during the service.
Fr Brodie first met Mr Watts when he became the Rector of Midland, in Perth, in 1969. Fr Brodie was then working as a telecom engineer after emigrating from England with his wife a year earlier.
Under the influence of Mr Watts’ “gentle ministry”, Fr Brodie first became a lay reader and then churchwarden before deciding to train for the priesthood himself.
He was ordained in 1985.
He said: “I am one of at least four clergy, to my knowledge, whose ordination was as a result of Frank’s ministry. This is why I am committed to making this celebration something special for a very special man.”
Mr Watts, who was born on June 12, 1930, was ordained as a deacon at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff on his birthday in 1954 and ordained as a priest a year later.
He served as a curate in several Welsh parishes between 1954 and 1959, before moving to Marlow for a year, then to West Oxfordshire.
In 1969, Mr Watts, his wife Jan and their children, Mark, Faith, Sian and Matthew, left for Australia.
He served briefly as the rector of the rural parish of Boyup Brook, followed by seven years as the rector of Midland, then five years as rector of the gold-mining town of Kalgoorlie.
In 1978, Mr Watts was appointed an honorary canon of St George’s Cathedral in Perth. In 1983 the family returned to Perth, where Mr Watts became the Rector of Wanneroo, and then served at his final parish of Floreat Park.
The Rev Frank Watts, far left, with parishioners in Brize Norton in the 1960s
Although he officially retired in 1995, Mr Watts continues to be an active minister, despite recent ill-health, which requires him to undergo dialysis treatment three days a week. He and his wife are now members of the congregation at St Andrew’s Church, where the special service will take place on Sunday, June 15.
Anyone who would like to send a message can email Fr Brodie at firstname.lastname@example.org