Report and photographs by John Kelly
The Rev Canon William Bell, rector of All Saints Parish, Eglantine, retired on March 31, exactly 22 years after being instituted as rector of the parish.
The service of Morning Prayer on Sunday March 27 was followed by a parish lunch and the service of Evening Prayer marked the final service in almost 44 years of Canon Bell’s active ministry.
Canon Bell was born and educated in Kells, Co Meath and later at Trinity College Dublin and the Church of Ireland Theological College. After ordination in 1967, he served in St Mark’s Parish, Newtownards. He later served as Curate Assistant in the Parish of Larne & Inver.
He then moved to be in charge of a church extension project – St Columba’s, Dunclug, Ballymena. His next position was as rector of Ardoyne Parish, Belfast, where he also served as Rural Dean of Mid Belfast.
Canon Bell was instituted as rector of All Saints’ Eglantine on March 31 1989 where he has served for the last 22 years. He was appointed a Canon of Lisburn Cathedral Chapter in 2005. During Canon Bell’s ministry a new Parish Hall was built in 1995 and major refurbishment of the church was undertaken in 2009. He married Norma in 1970. They have two sons – Niall and Conor and two grandsons – Jasper and Elliott.
In addition to his pastoral duties, Canon Bell has been Secretary of Churches Together in Lisburn. He has been very involved in education, serving on the management committees of local schools – Chairman of the Board of Governors of the former Ravarnet and former Newport Primary Schools. Currently he serves on the Board of Governors of Downshire, Knockmore and Largymore Primary Schools. He was one of the two Church of Ireland Transferor Representatives on the South Eastern Education and Library Board until its recent suspension.
Not only will Canon Bell’s pastoral and community work be greatly missed, so too will that of his wife Norma who was Organist and Choir Mistress at All Saints’ Eglantine for a number of years. Norma, who was a Special Needs teacher in Brookfield School, has supported her husband in many aspects of parish life throughout his ministry. She is very involved in Mothers’ Union having been leader of the Parish branch and was also Diocesan President of Connor and has recently been elected an All Ireland Vice President.