Archdiocese bids farewell to three loyal staff: Brian Bonser, Warren Lethridge and Caroline Fouche

15 Jul 2021

By Amanda Murthy

By Jamie O’Brien and Amanda Murthy

Warren, Caroline and Brian at reception.
Warren Lethridge, Caroline Fouche and Brian Bonser retired from the Archdiocese of Perth after serving for over 20 years. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

Nearly 70 years of history has been made following the retirement of Archdiocese Clergy Liaison Officer Brian Bonser, Manager: Compliance and Suppliers Warren Lethridge and Personal Assistant to Perth Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton Caroline Fouche, on 30 June and 2 July respectively.

Originally employed as a Catholic Development Fund Relationship Manager, Brian Bonser, who hailed from a banking background, eventually earned the position of Clergy Liaison Officer, which included aiding clergy across the Archdiocese of Perth with respect to their personal financial, health insurance, immigration, and Visa requirements. Other responsibilities have included assisting clergy with the financial administration of their parishes.

In 2005, Mr Bonser commenced on the Priests’ Income Equity Fund (PIEF).

“After working in the bank for years, I felt like work-life balance was what I needed. Having made many friends within the parishes at the time, I felt like with my background, I could assist in the areas of finance and associated issues,” said the father of two and grandfather of two.

“There have been many highlights in the 26 years I’ve served the Archdiocese. Some of my favourites include building lifelong relationships with the clergy and people I have worked closely with.

“Another highlight would have to be working with the seminarians. Just seeing them grow as people, to attending their ordinations and seeing the priests they become – that gave me joy,” he added.

Chair of the PIEF Father Phillip Perreau, who worked closely with Mr Bonser, extended his collective thanks and gratitude to Mr Bonser, for his generous support and advise, on behalf of the Archdiocesan priests.

“Brian has always been responsive to the needs of the priests and has always been there for us when we have needed him,” Fr Perreau said.

“Brian has been a central figure in the Priests’ Income Equity Fund (PIEF) Committee. His contributions and experience have been greatly valued by the members of the Committee.

“The priests of the Archdiocese of Perth wish him continued good health and happiness as he begins the next stage of his journey in retirement,” he added.

Former banker Mr Lethridge began his tenure in August 2000, as an Administrative Accountant, and has held the role of Manager: Compliance and Suppliers for the past 12 years.

He fondly recalls his first task in the Archdiocese, assisting the priests at the Joondalup chapel.

“I have enjoyed dealing with people on all levels of communication and also on an education level, from negotiating on behalf on the church and for the church’s benefit,” said Mr Lethridge who is a qualified accountant with a paralegal background.

“My advice for the newcomers would be, to come in with you eyes open, put your head down, and get to learn the workings of the church – hopefully, you will be rewarded for the gifts you have shown.”

Upon her arrival from South Africa in April 1983, Mrs Fouche supported her husband who was then working for a Croatian company that built the Argyle Diamond Mine in the East Kimberley region. One year later, she was baptised in the Catholic Church, an association which would lead to her 22-year career with the Archdiocese of Perth, from 1999.

“I saw the advertisement for the role of Secretary at the Cathedral and the Archbishop Office in my parish bulletin and was initially not convinced. I then applied when it was in the West Australian not realizing it was same role!”

Mrs Fouche, who is a mother of three, said she is grateful for the opportunity that led her to work alongside two Archbishops, Bishops, and see first-hand many of the good works of the church.

“I’m proud of say that I’ll always treasure the diversity and broad nature of knowledge gained from working in the office of the Archbishop,” Mrs Fouche cited.

“I’ve had the privilege of meeting people from the homeless, to the Archbishop’s and Bishops.

“Being so upfront to the joys and hardships of the church, I think one’s faith will be tested, you will see a side of the church that may not live up to your expectations at times, but your faith will also be strengthened,” she added.

Mrs Fouche added that some of her highlights included witnessing the ordination of Bishop Don, who she worked closely with in her most recent role as his Personal Assistant. Other highlights include being involved with and witnessing the opening of the cathedral, the moving of the Cathedral House, witnessing exhuming of Bishops in a chapter hall, and many more.

“My biggest takeaway has been about the people – Learning to be compassionate everyone has a back story and their current situation,” Mrs Fouche stated.

“My advice for new people would be to be open-minded and be accepting of people as they are.”