I am known as Father Anton, although my real name is Anthony. The Anton stuck when I was a student to match my surname, which is Polish and I believe also French. My father came over from Poland towards the end of the war and met my mother, God rest her soul, and they settled in her home town of Fleetwood.
I belong to the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Betharram. Betharram is a small village and shrine to Our Lady about nine miles outside of Lourdes. Many people have heard of the Grottos of Betharram, but not so many about the shrine where our founder St Michael Garicoits brought our Congregation into being.
I was a young vocation, educated by the Sacred Heart Fathers, and then joining them for novitiate training and priestly education at Oscott College, the diocesan seminary. I then spent two years at L.S.U. College Southampton teacher training, rounding off my degree at Worcester College.
My first appointment was to teach at the Sacred Heart College in Droitwich, R.E., some maths and science and then engineering drawing. It was a busy time as later I was given the task of overseeing the school and the parish adjacent. However I had a good team.
Ten years later I moved to Olton Friary where I took charge of our small province and acted as Novice Master to both English and overseas students.
Nine years on, the process of laying down previous tasks I spent a year doing Mission appeals before moving to a relatively new community in Leigh Lancashire, where I spent nine years as bursar-finance-property man, eventually becoming the parish priest for a number of years.
Ill health then took hold so after those nine years I slowed down to recoup helping out with a colleague at Holy Name parish in Great Barr for four years. And here I am with you all, happy and busy as I learn the ropes. What do I plan to do for recreation? Golf – I know, “A good walk spoiled!” But my previous interests, football, squash, cycling and scuba diving are now a little beyond me, although I do from time to time cycle around Fleetwood when it is not too windy.
Thank you everyone for your warm and supportive welcome. I know I am going to be happy amongst you. My wish is to serve you well. God bless and keep me in your prayers! I will you!