Longest serving minister in Clogher Diocese announces his retirement


Archdeacon Cecil Pringle

The longest serving minister in Clogher Diocese, the Venerable Cecil Pringle (Archdeacon Emeritus), has announced his retirement to take effect from the end of February 2018.

Apart from his curacy in East Belfast, he has spent his entire ministry in Clogher Diocese.

After a ministry with the Church of Ireland spanning over 50 years, the former Archdeacon of the diocese for 25 years will retire following his last service in the Drumkeeran Group of parishes in North Fermanagh where he has been Bishop’s Curate for the past 10 years.

“I have found my ministry very fulfilling. I would not have remained as long as I did if I had not had that fulfilment,” he commented.

During his extensive ministry, the Archdeacon Pringle has seen huge changes not only within church life but in society in general but he has embraced many of these changes in his work in parishes where he has served, always respectful of other people’s opinions.

Cecil Pringle was the third of five children of Joseph and Isabella Pringle, born outside Clones, Co Monaghan, in Clogher Diocese, as the Second World War was raging in Europe. His father, Joseph died when he was only seven and his mother, Isabella brought up five of family during a difficult time in rural Ireland.

“The lesson I learned from that is that we would not have survived if it had not been for the help and kindness of our neighbouring farmers, almost all of whom were Roman Catholic, and which was freely given again and again,” he recalled.

Progressing in education, the Cecil was attending Clones High School when in his teenage years, felt the calling to God and the late Archdeacon Victor Forster encouraged him to go forward for ordination training.

Following his degree and theological training at Trinity College, Dublin, he was ordained for the curacy of St. Donard’s Parish, East Belfast, in 1966 where he served until 1969.

He was appointed rector of Cleenish Parish, near Bellanaleck in Clogher Diocese in 1969 and it was during his time there that he oversaw the grouping with Mullaghdun Parish, near Letterbreen, in 1978.

In 1980, he moved the short distance to the neighbouring parish of Rossorry where he remained for a further 28 years. During this time, he was appointed firstly, a Canon, in 1985 and then Archdeacon of Clogher in 1989, a position he held for 25 years.

In 2008, he was appointed Bishop’s Curate of Drumkeeran, Muckross and Templecarne group of parishes where he remains until his retirement at the end of February.

During his ministry in Clogher Diocese, Archdeacon Pringle has worked with six bishops including the current Bishop, the Right Revd John McDowell.

Apart from his pastoral and parish duties, Archdeacon Pringle served on numerous committees and boards within the diocese and at wider Church of Ireland level, being a member of the Representative Church Body, serving on its Executive Committee.

He was also interested in progressing education and as well as teaching R.E. to pupils, served on the Board of Governors of Jones Memorial Primary School, Enniskillen and was Chairman of the Board of Management of Enniskillen High School for many years.

He also served as a church representative on the Western Education and Library Board and was Chairman of the Teaching Appointments Committee for a period of time.

It was during his ministry in Rossorry Parish that Archdeacon Pringle helped to progress community relations when he accepted an invitation from Father Brian D’Arcy at The Graan Monastery, to speak at the Novena of Hope in the mid 1990’s. He has spoken at every Novena since.

“Having grown up when we were so dependent on the wider community I realised those people were very kind and helpful. However I could not have envisaged the next big step,” he said of the time he received Father Brian’s invitation.

Having spoken at the Novena of Hope to great acclamation, Archdeacon Pringle continued the relationship by inviting Father Brian to speak at a service in Rossorry Parish Church during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Looking back over such meritorious service, Archdeacon Pringle said the key to successive ministry is to let people know they are cared for and that clergy must be prepared to listen.

“I would underline the role of listening in pastoral ministry,” he said.

He and his wife, Hilary, who live near Letterbreen, have three children; Tanya; Mark and Claire and four grandchildren and he is looking forward to having more time with his family as well as pursuing his pastimes of regular walking, playing pool and enjoying holiday breaks.

But he leaves with having had a fulfilling life of service in the church.

“My length of service says its all,” he added.