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A Gift for Fr Frank Watts’ 60 years of Ministry

Fr Frank as a young man.June 2014

Fr Alan Brodie from St Andrew’s Church in Riverton-Shelley, Western Australia, shares a wonderful story behind a gift ABM received in celebration of Fr Frank Watt’s 60 years of ordained ministry.

On Trinity Sunday, the Revd Canon Frank Watts celebrated 60 years of ordained ministry, with the help of friends and parishioners at St Andrew’s, Shelley. Messages of congratulations were received from all the parishes in which Frank has served during these years, including parishes in Wales, England and Western Australia.

Frank was born on the 12th of June in 1930 and raised in Bray, in Berkshire, and has often claimed that this entitles him to be known as the Vicar from Bray, but not the Vicar of Bray. After completing his studies at Kings College, London, he was ordained a Deacon in the Church of Wales in 1954 and a Priest in 1955.  Between 1954 and 1959 he served as a Curate in Wales, before crossing the border to the parish of Marlow. In 1960, Frank became the Vicar of Black Bourton-Carterton and then, from 1963 to 1969, the Vicar of Brize Norton-Carterton.

In 1969, the Watts family, responded to an invitation by the Bishop of Bunbury, to become the Rector of the rural parish of Boyup Brook. This was followed by seven years in the parish of Midland, in the Diocese of Perth, and five years in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Frank later moved to Wanneroo and then his final parish of Floreat Park. He “retired” in 1995 but, like many clergy, continued in active ministry by filling the role of Locum Tenens as and when the need arose. Frank and his wife, Jan, are now regular members of the congregation of St Andrew’s Church, Riverton-Shelley, Western Australia.

Celebrating with Fr Frank in St Andrew's.
Celebrating with Fr Frank in St Andrew’s.

Frank’s reputation is one of a great pastoral priest, counsellor, raconteur and preacher. In Kalgoorlie-Boulder, he undertook a fundraising project where he was sponsored to preach for 12 hours, in what became known as a Preach-a-thon, to raise money for wells in India. This proved so successful that it was repeated the following year. When it was suggested for a third year, however, the community elected, instead, to sponsor him to keep quiet for 12 hours. He sat in a shop window, accompanied by Susannah Carr, Bruce Yardley and Wally Foremen, as passers-by attempted to make him speak. They were unsuccessful and the exercise, once again, proved a great fund-raiser.

The congregation of St Andrew’s set aside the service on Trinity Sunday, the 15th, where Frank concelebrated the Eucharist with Fr Braden Short. Fr Alan Brodie preached the sermon and concluded the service by sharing some of the messages that had been sent by past parishioners.

The congregation wished to present Frank with a gift to commemorate the occasion and approached ABM with the idea of funding the provision of a well under an ABM project. It was decided that the money raised for the gift would go towards water projects in Shwe Lei Vum village and Lat Pan Kaing village in Sittwe Diocese in the Anglican Province of Myanmar. Currently, the village streams no longer provide fresh water between February and May, as the local forests were fire damaged which dried up the streams. As a result, villagers often suffer from cholera and diarrhoea. The water source comes from the mountain about 1.5 miles away from the 2 villages.

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