Friday, February 10, 2017

The Catholic Thompson family of Penfield

Virginia was settled by Irish Catholic migrants, and so it is not surprising that a nun came from the district.  The very Catholic Thompsons were active in the Catholic community and granddaughter Ruth joined the Dominican order. 

James Thompson, died at his residence, "Chelsea," Salisbury, on January 13, 1925. He was born 85 previously in Bowden.  He was a member of that sturdy band who drove their bullock teams with copper ore over that tedious journey, from Burra to Adelaide. He was married in St. Patrick's Church, Adelaide, in 1865 to Mary Spain, a daughter of another early settler in Salisbury. 

He invested his savings in agricultural land, and with his young bride to cheer and help him he successfully farmed for many years at Red Banks and Salisbury, and subsequently became the licensee of the Railway and the Governor MacDonnell hotels, Salisbury.  The Thompson’s placed their homestead at the disposal of the Red Banks priest, who at stated periods said Mass there for the people in that scattered district. After relinquishing the hotel business he purchased a private residence in Salisbury and retired from active business.
He served for years as councillor in the Yatala North District Council, and was also a zealous member of St. Augustine's Church committee.

He had a family of six children; two sons and four daughters: Patrick Thompson, Penfield; Mr. James Thompson, Salisbury; Mrs. Mary Immaculate O'Brien, Adelaide; Mrs. Eliza Ann Doyle, Hamley Bridge; Mrs Teresa Jane O'Brien, Salisbury; and Mrs. Cicely Ruth 0’Leary.
His remains were interred in the Salisbury Cemetery.

The eldest son Patrick engaged in farming at Penfield (Willow Park) before his marriage.  He was a staunch member of the congregation at the Church of the Assumption, Virginia, of the H.A.C.B. (Hibernian Australia Catholic Benefit) Society, Salisbury Branch, and of the Virginia Hunt Club and Football Club, and was a foundation trustee of the Virginia Institute.
All who knew the him had nothing but words of praise for his kindly disposition and unfailing charity at all times. He left a widow and three daughters when he passed away on July 29, 1937.  Mrs. A. O'Leary, Woodville; Mrs. A. O'Leary, Salisbury; Sister M. Emmanuel, O.P., St. Dominic's Priory, North Adelaide; and one son, Mr. Jack Thompson, of Penfield.

Patrick married Anne Elizabeth O’Brien in 1890.  Anne was a member of The Assumption Church, Virginia, for over 47 years.  She was born on the feast of the Assumption, 1857, and was the daughter of the late John and Mary O'Brien, of Sheaoak Log.  Both of her parents hailed from Ireland.
They then took up farm life at Penfield, where they lived until 1937.  As a child, when churches were fewer, the late Archbishop Reynolds said Mass in the house of her parents.  It was the Archbishop's first Mass in a private house, and the place became fittingly known as the Home of the Stations.

The Thompson's home was known for its hospitality to Priests. They were willing and generous worker in parish activities.
For twenty years, Anne was a Dominican Tertiary[1]. During the last ten years, she was regularly visited by Rev. Mother Prioress and the Sisters of St. Dominic's Priory, North Adelaide, where her daughter was a nun.

Anne Elizabeth died on June 16 1947. Her body was buried in St. Augustine's Church, Salisbury, where she was buried in the habit of the Dominican Order.
It was no wonder that their daughter, Ruth born on the 15th May 1894 at Penfield raised in a very Catholic family decided to join a religious order.  Known as Sister Mary Emmanuel Thompson she became a teaching Sister at St. Dominic's Priory, Molesworth St. North Adelaide.

Sister Mary died on the 16 May 1964 at Calvary Hospital, North Adelaide, aged 70.  She is buried in the West Terrace Cemetery Catholic Section.
References used
Southern Cross 23 Jan 1925
Southern Cross 20 Aug 1937
Southern Cross 4 July 1947



[1] A Dominicans tertiary are men and women, singles and couples living a Christian life with a Dominican spirituality in the secular world. The Life of a Dominican layperson is all about having a passion for the Word of God. It is about committing oneself to a community of like-minded brothers and sisters that immerse themselves in the Word of God.