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OBITUARY: Fr Anton Hesse enters into the great mystery of eternal life


Rev Fr Anton Hesse served numerous parishes and Mass centres of the Perth Archdiocese during his 65 years as an ordained priest. Photo: Supplied.

The Perth Catholic community has paid tribute to the life and ministry of Father Anton Gordon Hesse, who died aged 90 on 26 July 2020 at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

In his 65 years of priestly ministry, Fr Hesse gave generous and dedicated service in the Archdiocese of Perth - serving in the parishes of Kalgoorlie, Boulder, East Fremantle, Scarborough, Kondinin, Highgate, Osborne Park, Mundaring, Kelmscott, Carlisle, Lockridge, and Dianella.

He was granted a Papal Honour in 2009 (Croce pro Ecclesia et Pontifice).

The Pontifical Requiem Mass for the Repose of the Soul of Fr Hesse was held on 5 August at Our Lady of Assumption Church, Dianella Parish.


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB and concelebrants consecrate the Blessed Sacrament during the Pontifical Requiem Mass for the Repose of the Soul of Fr Anton Hesse on 5 August at Dianella Parish. Photo: Matthew Lau.

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB was the principal celebrant of the Mass, joined by Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Archbishop Emeritus Barry Hickey, Geraldton Bishop Emeritus Justin Bianchini, and several other clergy. He was buried at Karakatta Cemetery.

In his homily, Archbishop Costelloe reflected on the Gospel passage of John 21:15-19 and on the life of Fr Hesse.

“Fr Anton has now entered into the great mystery of eternal life. Our words fail us as we try to understand what Fr Anton is now experiencing. Perhaps the best we can do is use the words found in the first letter of St John: ‘Dearly beloved ones, we are now children of God but what we will be in the future has not yet been revealed. What we do know is that when Christ appears, we shall be like him for we shall see him as he truly is’,” Archbishop Costelloe said.


The Emeritus Bishop of Geraldton, Justin Bianchini, incenses Fr Anton Hesse’s coffin at Dianella Parish on Wednesday 5 August. Photo: Matthew Lau.

“With these words in mind, perhaps we would not go astray if we were to think that in entering through the gates of death into eternal life Fr Anton encountered the Lord who said to him: ‘Anton, do you love me? Do you really love me? Do you love me more than others do?’.

“And knowing something of Fr Anton‘s life, of his fidelity and commitment, his gentleness and sensitivity, perhaps we will not go astray if we think of Fr Anton saying, from the depths of his heart and with great sincerity at this most crucial moment of his life: ‘Yes, Lord, I love you. Of course, I love you. You know everything so you know that I love you’. And Jesus says to him: ‘Come now, follow me, follow me into the joy of eternal life’,” the Perth Archbishop concluded.


The Emeritus Archbishop of Perth, Barry James Hickey, sends the body of Fr Anton Hesse off with a blessing of holy water outside Our Lady of Assumption Church in Dianella on 5 August 2020. Photo: Matthew Lau.

Fr Anton Hesse was born on 25 July 1930 in Colombo, Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka. He commenced his seminary studies at St Peter's College and then in 1948 his family migrated to Perth, Western Australia.

He studied at St Charles’ Seminary in Guildford WA and St Patrick's College in Manly NSW. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Perth by the newly appointed first Bishop of Bunbury, Launcelot Goody, on 6 August 1955.

Fr Hesse was appointed Assistant Priest at Kalgoorlie on 5 February 1956. Part of his duties on the Goldfields was to travel on the Trans-Australian Railway, known as the "Tea and Sugar Train", which served the fetter’s camps servicing the railway across the Nullabor Plain. Fr Hesse also served as Assistant Priest at Boulder while on the Goldfields.

In April 1960, Fr Hesse returned to the city and was appointed Assistant Priest at East Fremantle, which included Chaplaincy to HMAS Leeuwin, the Royal Australian Navy's junior training facility.


Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB takes the time to converse with his flock after the Requiem Mass to celebrate the life of Fr Anton Hesse on Wednesday 5 August 2020. Photo: Matthew Lau. 

In March 1964, he was appointed Assistant Priest at Scarborough and then on 15 February 1970, he went to the country areas where he was Priest-in-Charge of Kondinin Parish and several outlying Mass centres.

On 28 February 1971, he was appointed Assistant Priest at Highgate Parish. On 19 September 1971, Fr Hesse was appointed Parish Priest of Mundaring and later he was Administrator of Kelmscott Parish.

On 13 March 1977, Fr Hesse was appointed Parish Priest of Carlisle and then on 14 February 1987, he was appointed Parish Priest of the rapidly growing Lockridge Parish.

Fr Hesse took sick leave from 9 June 1991 to September 1993. He was then Administrator of Osborne Park Parish from September 1993 until 3 March 1994, when he was appointed Parish Priest of Osborne Park. He retired in 2000.