Former Parish Priest of Redcliffe City Parish Father Peter Gillam has been remembered as a man of the people.
Moreton Bay Regional Council’s Cr Mick Gillam (Div. 8) paid tribute to his second-cousin at last week’s council meeting.
Born at Clifton on June 3, 1938, Fr Peter was ordained in 1962 at Stephen’s Cathedral and appointed Assistant Priest at St Bernadette’s, Scarborough.
His next appointment was to Pius XII Provincial Seminary at Banyo, which led him overseas to study at St Peter’s in Rome.
When he returned to Australia, he taught moral theology at the Banyo Seminary and became Vice-Rector in 1976.
“He was a people person and didn’t like the academic world as much as looking after parishioners so in January 1977 he was appointed as Administrator of Our Lady Help of Christians at Hendra,” Cr Gillam says.
“He became the parish priest there in 1980 - during his time at Hendra he developed a close relationship with the racing fraternity. He was the Racing Chaplain for 30 years.”
Cr Gillam says Fr Peter remained involved in the lives of his family throughout his career.
“He did a lot of family business as my grandfather, his uncle, was the eldest of seven Gillam brothers,” Cr Gillam says.
Holy Cross Parish secretary Leanne Menyweather first met Fr Peter at St Kieran’s at Brighton in 1992, and joined him at Redcliffe soon after his appointment as Parish Priest.
“I learnt very early on that Fr Peter was very pastoral,” Mrs Menyweather says.
“He always made his parishioners his top priority spiritually. He would still say Morning Mass even on his days off.”
Mrs Menyweather says Fr Peter was the driving force in Holy Cross Funerals building its own funeral home and mortuary on the Kippa-Ring church grounds.
Fr Peter passed away after a short illness on March 3 and was buried at Redcliffe Cemetery with his parents.
Mrs Menyweather says such was Fr Peter’s standing, the Catholic Church allowed his Mass to be said at Holy Cross.
“A priest is not usually allowed to have a funeral at a local church, and they are usually buried at Nudgee,” she says.
Overseen by Archbishop Mark Coleridge, six bishops and 28 priests were among those who attended Father Peter’s funeral.
Find more local stories here.