Homecoming memorial praises bishop

GOING home was the theme of a memorial service for Bishop Robert Beal after his ashes were interred at Wangaratta yesterday.

The Metropolitan Archbishop of Melbourne, Phillip Freier, led about 25 priests in the special service at Holy Trinity Cathedral in the presence of Bishop Beal’s widow, Valerie.

Bishop Beal, who died in June, aged 79, was Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta in the years from 1985 to 1994.

He was the dean of the cathedral from 1965 to 1972.

His six children were raised at Wangaratta and as another former dean, the Reverend Donald McMonigle, said yesterday, “this is a homecoming”.

One of the hymns sung yesterday was Going home, moving on, sung to the Largo from Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

It was a fitting song of farewell for a priest who was so intimately connected to the cathedral and its diocese of 29 parishes for so long.

About 300 attended the service celebrated by the Bishop of Wangaratta, Bishop John Parkes.

While the service followed the traditional eucharist with its solemnity, the Reverend McMonigle reminded the congregation of Bishop’s Beal humour and laughter.

He said the bishop had a commanding presence combined with a gracious spirit, but many would remember the happy times with him in the diocese.

Former Rector of Albury the Reverend John Davis offered prayers.

A tribute on behalf of the Beal family was given by a daughter, Francis Beal, who also recalled her father’s humour and the happy times.

Bishop Beal died in Newcastle, where a funeral service was held on July 1.

His ashes were interred in the Lady Chapel at Wangaratta before yesterday’s service.

Bishop Beal became a priest in 1953.

He worked in Queensland for several years until he first moved to Wangaratta in 1965.

He was dean of Newcastle before returning south again to be Rector of St Matthew’s, Albury, in 1983, two years later becoming bishop.

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