Good Shepherd Sunday on 26 April 2015: Blacktown boy at home in Rydalmere


Catholic Outlook April 2015: Fr Peter Lamont
Fr Peter Lamont loves the people and spirit of the Rydalmere Parish community. Photography: Alphonsus Fok

Originally published in Catholic Outlook April 2015

By Elizabeth Scully

Fr Peter Lamont has served as Parish Priest at Holy Name of Mary Parish, Rydalmere, since 2006. The personable 59-year-old describes Rydalmere as “like a little oasis”. “It’s the geographical centre of Sydney. I can pop on the Rivercat and go into Circular Quay,” he said with enthusiasm.

But it’s really the people that make the place as far as Fr Peter is concerned. “We’ve got a great core of people here: Catholic Women’s League is a great group, our acolytes are terrific, we’ve got a very strong music liturgy and that’s growing,” he said.

“I love it! I love the spirit of the place. The parishioners are very kind to me.”

Catholic Outlook April 2015: Fr Peter Lamont
Fr Peter Lamont.

The Rydalmere Parish community is very diverse. It takes in some of Parramatta’s most affluent areas as well as pockets of disadvantage in rapidly gentrifying Ermington.

The parish has a hard-working St Vincent de Paul Conference that does a lot for locals living in public housing. “They need a lot of help,” Fr Peter said.

In Rydalmere itself, a growing number of flats is seeing more young families in the pews, including many recent migrants.

Fr Peter was born and bred in Blacktown, attending St Patrick’s Primary at Blacktown and Holy Family Primary, Marayong. Though he loved it, he observes that “schools were poorer”. “Very poor conditions. No state aid or government assistance in those days.”

He went to high school at Patrician Brothers’ College Blacktown and Fairfield, where a classmate was Fr Bob Bossini, now the Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Fr Peter’s maternal grandfather was an identity in Blacktown, having been the local chemist in the 1930s. The young Peter was an active member of the parish youth group.

Serving as an altar boy he was drawn to the mystery of the Church. “I got hooked on it,” he said. Yet it would be some years before his grandmother’s prayers for a priest in the family were answered.

Before joining St Patrick’s Seminary, Manly, at the age of 25, he worked as a public servant, a valuable experience that still informs his ministry to lay people.

Fr Peter highlights the workplace as an important site for mission. He also tries to keep his homilies short and to the point, conscious of the many demands of family life on parishioners’ time.

It is 29 years since Fr Peter was ordained as the first priest for the new Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. He is excited about the growth of Greater Western Sydney and loves the local environment: “We haven’t got the beach but we’ve got the Mountains!”

Over the years, Fr Peter has served at parishes including Parramatta, Marayong, Westmead and Windsor.

As well as serving as Rydalmere Parish Priest and Spiritual Director to Holy Spirit Seminary, Fr Peter enjoys a good read, especially by AJ Cronin. He loves Ruth Park’s Harp in the South novels and speaks about the sadness of life in the Surry Hills slums in the 1940s.

Yet Fr Peter has a nostalgia for the strong attachment of working people to the Church in such communities: “We’ve lost that,” he said.

Getting to know so many people in the Rydalmere area is a great joy for Fr Peter. Maybe it has something to do with growing up in a tight-knit community where people helped each other out.

His common-sense approach to ministry is: “If someone needs your help, you do it … you help them out the best way you can.”

“Our parish is under the care of Our Blessed Mother who guides our parish in bringing her Son’s mission to the local community.”

Anniversaries of priestly ordination

Rev Fr Robert Anderson
Rev Fr Robert Anderson.

Rev Fr Robert Anderson – ordained 50 years:

Administrator, Sacred Heart Parish, Westmead.

Ordained 3 April 1965.

Rev Fr Vincent Savarimuthu – ordained 30 years:

Parish Priest, St Madeleine Sophie Barat’s Parish, Kenthurst.

Ordained 21 April 1985.

Rev Fr Henry Huu Duc Tran – ordained 20 years:

Parish Priest, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Seven Hills, Dean of the Blacktown Deanery and Vietnamese Community Coordinator. Ordained 21 April 1995. 

Rev Fr Vincent Savarimuthu
Rev Fr Vincent Savarimuthu.
Rev Fr Henry Huu Duc Tran
Rev Fr Henry Huu Duc Tran.

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