Canon in Residence – Canon Ronald Nesbitt
There’s a chance you’ve seen Canon Ronald Nesbitt around the cathedral before – appointed by Bishop Harold in what he describes as “a lovely surprise, and a particular delight for my mum and the parish!” Canon Nesbitt is now the longest serving Canon at Belfast Cathedral. Originally installed by Dean Houston McKelvey (2001-2011), he remarks how he has seen a “wonderful transformation to the Cathedral” in in the intervening years.
And it’s true – Canon Nesbitt’s appointment predates the 2007 addition of the Spire of Hope, now an indelible feature both of Belfast Cathedral and the city skyline. He’s also seen the wider Cathedral quarter thrive, becoming the bustling heart of art and life in Belfast. And he helped Dean McKelvey in raising the startling figure of £1.4 million during 2004’s Black Santa Sit Out in the wake of that year’s devastating Asian tsunami.
Canon Nesbitt asserts his belief that most likely, all the other Canons will cite the annual Black Santa ‘Sit Out’ as their favourite part of being a Canon (a claim we invite you to investigate when you see them shivering on the Cathedral steps in late December!), but it’s not the Christmas rush that appeals to him. Rather, he says that he “simply loves being a part of the Cathedral’s life, and coming to enjoy the worship without being responsible for its ordering – which is a treat.”
He goes on to say, “perhaps it’s the moment when the Cathedral is the setting for ‘farewells,’ as the Cathedral captures the mood of thanksgiving and sorrow,” highlighting the Cathedral’s role as a place of reflection. It’s an important reminder of the space the Cathedral and its Canons occupy, both in the private sphere with our books of remembrance held for passed children and our civic role, with memorials like the Titanic Pall.
Outside the Cathedral grounds, Canon Nesbitt can be found tending to his vegetable plots, and spending time with his wife Carole, who teaches those with special needs. He’s recently taken up cycling, “with little success,” but is doubtless kept busy by his two beautiful brown Labradors, who you may be lucky to catch a glimpse of at our annual Pet Service on 6th October.
Make sure to stop by and say hello to our Cathedral Canons each Thursday. In the Cathedral from 10am until Evening Prayer, their specified “surgery hour” dedicated to any visitors who need support, will be between 2-3pm.