Retired minister gave ‘a glimpse of Heaven’ to all who met him

Mourners gathered last week to celebrate the life of a man credited with giving all who met him “a glimpse of what Heaven will be like”.

Dublin native, the Rev Gerald Norman (Gerry) Sproule was a former rector of the grouped parish of Saint John the Evangelist, Magherally and Christ Church, Annaclone.

He died peacefully at Lisburn’s Rose Lodge Nursing Home on Friday, March 18, a little over three weeks after his 90th birthday.

Mr Sproule was also a prominent member of Listullycurran LOL No 616 and Deputy District Chaplain of Lower Iveagh District No 1. He stood down as County Grand Chaplain of County Down Grand Orange Lodge in December 2009.

Rural Dean and Rector of Christ Church, Derriaghy, the Rev Canon John Budd, conducted Monday’s service of thanksgiving, where the retired minister, the Rev Canon Ken McReynolds, addressed mourners about a man who had helped him, he said, in many ways, during his time at Lambeg, a man respected and appreciated for his sincerity, forthright honesty, spontaneity, sense of humour, love and compassion.

Husband of the late Sadie, Mr Sproule is survived by daughter Jeni, sons Andrew and Adrian, daughter-in-law Johanna, grandchildren Steven, his wife Joanne, Sarah and her husband Wayne, Kevin, and Eoin and great-grandchildren Lewis, Emma, Ryan and Leah.

He was born in Dublin’s Coombe Hospital on February 24, 1926, later attending the National School, Delgany and the Technical College, Bray before serving a three-year apprenticeship in coach-building, carpentry and painting. He worked in WD&HO Wills cigarette factory and later, for 10 years, as a salesman for the National Cash Register Company.

It was on July 9, 1952 that he married Sarah Noel Elliott in St Kevin’s Church, Dublin and some eight years later, on June 26 1960, that he was ordained for the ministry, serving first as curate in Monaghan Parish.

In 1961 he became Rector of Cleenish Parish, Bellanaleck and, in 1968, Rector of Magheracross Parish, Ballinamallard.

He worked for more than five years as Deputation Secretary for the Bible Churchman’s Missionary Society and in 1979 returned to parish work as Rector of St Aidan’s, Sandy Row, Belfast.

He later retired as Rector in Magherally and Annaclone.

He was also a member of Largymore Star of the North RBP 198 and a Past Imperial Grand Chaplain of the Royal Black Institution. At Monday’s service Mr McReynolds remembered Gerry Sproule as one whose “transparent Christlikeness” meant anyone who met him and his late wife Sadie got a glimpse of what Heaven will be like.

Interment followed in the adjoining churchyard.