10 December 2022

Williamstown Archdeacon Bill Beagley dies after a short illness, aged 63

Family, diocesan leaders pay tribute as funeral set for Holy Trinity Williamstown on 17 January.

Archdeacon Bill Beagley’s family said they were immensely privileged to be with him to the end. “We are awed by his courage, humbled by his love for us, stricken by our overwhelming grief but assured by our faith that he is now at peace and with God.”

By Mark Brolly

One of Melbourne’s leading Anglican clergymen, Archdeacon Bill Beagley of Williamstown, has died after a short illness. He was 63.

Archdeacon Beagley died on 9 January after what his family described as “a short and fierce battle with cancer”.

He is survived by his wife Dr Leanne Beagley and their adult daughters Rachel, Sarah and Tess.

His funeral will be held at Holy Trinity Williamstown, where he had been Vicar since 2011, at 10.30am on Thursday, 17 January.

A message from Archdeacon Beagley’s family to clergy and friends in the Oodthenong Episcopate was released by Bishop Kate Prowd on 10 January:

Dear Friends,

It is with deep sadness that we announce that Bill, our favourite Archdeacon, died peacefully last night after a short and fierce battle with cancer. He was 63. 

We were immensely privileged to be with him to the end. We are awed by his courage, humbled by his love for us, stricken by our overwhelming grief but assured by our faith that he is now at peace and with God. 

We know that on this journey we have been surrounded by a great crowd of compassionate supporters and we sincerely thank each of you. 

We hope you will join us to celebrate his life at a funeral next week at Holy Trinity Williamstown. See the website for details in coming days http://www.htw.org.au/

In loving memory of our beautiful bloke.

Leanne, Rachel, Sarah and Tess Beagley

Bishop Prowd asked for prayers for the Beagley family in their time of grief.

The Vicar-General, Bishop Brad Billings, wrote in an Ad Clerum (letter to clergy in the Diocese of Melbourne) on 10 January that Archdeacon Beagley was “our much-loved colleague”.

“We give thanks to God for the life and ministry of the Venerable Bill Beagley and pray for Leanne and his family at this very difficult time,” Bishop Billings wrote.

“May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”

Archdeacon Beagley, who also served as Chaplain to Port Phillip Prison from 2003-18, was ordained a deacon in Melbourne in 1995 and priested the same year after studies at Trinity College Theological School, Parkville. In 1986, he had completed an Associate Diploma in Welfare Studies at Phillip Institute of Technology in Bundoora, now part of RMIT University.

He was Assistant Curate at Mt Eliza from 1995-96 and at St John’s Toorak from 1997-98 before becoming Priest-in-Charge of St James’ and St Peter’s Anglican Church in Kilsyth-Montrose until 2003. That year, he became Vicar of St Alban’s Church in Coburg West-Pascoe Vale South until his move to Williamstown in 2011, becoming Archdeacon of Williamstown five years later.

Last month, during Archdeacon Beagley’s illness, Bishop Prowd joined Archbishop Philip and Mrs Joy Freier in a home service of Holy Communion and prayer with the Beagley family.

Dr Leanne Beagley, an occupational and family therapist who was Director of Mental Health and Drugs for the Victorian Health Department from 2011-16 and is now CEO of the Western Victoria Primary Health Network, also has senior diocesan and national roles in the Anglican Church, including as a member of Melbourne and General Synods and on General Synod’s Standing Committee.

Last year, she addressed the Oodthenong and Marmingatha clergy conferences, saying a “cycle of continuous improvement” was needed to head off crises in institutional cultures (see page 5, TMA, July 2018).

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