News Release

Latter-day Saint Leader Celebrates 89th Birthday

His tenure as President of the Church began in February 2008 following the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley, with whom he had served in the Quorum of the Twelve since 1963 and in the First Presidency of the Church since 2008. 

President Monson has been a General Authority in the Church for nearly 53 years.  He was called to be an apostle at the young age of 36, having already served as a bishop, a counsellor in a stake presidency, and a mission president in Toronto, Canada.  Because of his length of service, many members of the Church have had the opportunity of meeting him in person, including Australian Latter-day Saints.

President Monson and his wife Frances first visited Australia in February 1965 when he, as the youngest General Authority in the Church, was given an assignment to spend a month touring the South Pacific area, including New Zealand and the island countries as well as Australia.  Eight months later he was assigned to supervise the Pacific area.

During the three years he held that responsibility, he made 8 trips from Utah to the Pacific Area, each lasting 3-4 weeks.  In Australia he visited congregations in the major cities as well as small congregations known as “branches” in the bush and elsewhere. 

As he travelled, “He created stakes, reviewed finances....addressed and interviewed missionaries, blessed local members who were sick, spoke at stake conferences, looked for [suitable buildings]….attended traditional dance presentations, and was once even escorted from the dock by a brass band playing ‘Onward Christian Soldiers.’ ” (From President Monson’s biography, To The Rescue, p. 271, Heidi S. Swinton, 2010)

Former Adelaide Temple Matron Margaret Hooper recalled a visit from President Monson in 1972 when he came to Adelaide to dedicate the Marion meetinghouse.  She provided refreshments for a leeadership meeting at her home which included one of her specialties, lamingtons.  Before leaving the house, he came to find her so he could thank her and also took the time to visit with each of their five children.

More than 30 years later in 2003 when Margaret and her husband Tom were in Salt Lake City, President Monson was interviewing them for their new temple assignment when “He turned to me and said ‘Sister Hooper, I just loved your lamingtons!’  I couldn’t believe he remembered, but he has such a remarkable mind and memory.  He would walk down the aisle at church and greet by name everyone that he had met from his early visits in the 60’s,” Margaret recalls.

These days Latter-day Saints in Australia receive President Monson’s counsel and instruction via satellite transmission to meetinghouses throughout the country of the twice-yearly General Conferences held in Salt Lake City.  Many also make the trip to Salt Lake City to attend the conference in person one or more times in their lives.  

Elder Robert Dudfield, Australian Area Seventy, says of President Monson, "President Monson has been a living example of the Saviour Jesus Christ throughout his life. He has lived a life of service to others, reaching out to those in need, visiting the sick, caring for the widows and the elderly, and ministering to the one. By his own example he has taught us about what it means to be a disciple of Christ in the true sense of the word."

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