The Very Rev John Dinnen pictured with his wife Jane in the
The Very Rev John Dinnen, former Dean of Down, will retire from
active ministry at the end of December after 23 years as Rector
of the Parish Church of St Malachy, Hillsborough.
John started life in Belfast's Cavehill Road beside the Belfast
Waterworks and near Glenravel Street RUC Barracks where his
father, Thompson Dinnen, a police Sergeant, was stationed. His
older sister Elizabeth and he began school on the Antrim road.
John's first experience of church was Christ Church, Durham
Street. The two-tier pulpit of that church, a remarkable piece
of Victorian furniture, is now in Hillsborough Fort. As a young
boy, age 7, John took 'infantile paralysis' (now called polio)
and this was a testing time for the family, and his recovery,
without serious consequence, was remarkable for those times.
After his recovery the family moved to Derry where they remained
until Elizabeth entered Stranmillis College and John left Foyle
College for Trinity College Dublin. It was during those years,
through the faithful leadership of a Boys' Brigade Company, that John's faith became increasingly meaningful and he enquired and
in June 1966 was accepted, to train for ordination in Church of
Ireland at St Anne's Cathedral.
During his years at Trinity there was endless scope for sport,
study and making friends, one of whom was a Methodist student
from West Cork reading Chemistry. In 1969 John married Jane
Kingston in Bandon Methodist Church, West Cork and the young
couple's first home was in Dublin. After curacies in Belfast,
Dublin and Glengormely, John became Dean of Residences at
Queen's University in 1974 where he looked after students from
home and abroad, forty of whom lived at the Church of Ireland
Centre in Elmwood Avenue.
By now there were three young sons in the Dinnen household -
Carl, Paul and Andrew. In February 1984 John was appointed
Rector of Hillsborough. Always involved in wider church affairs,
he was a member of the General Synod for Down, member of the
Standing Committee, Warden of Readers and Director of Ordinands,
member of the Diocesan council, the Episcopal Electoral college
and the Committee of Patronage. In 1997 he was appointed Dean at
the Cathedral in Downpatrick, where he served until October
2006. In his post graduate studies after Trinity, he was awarded
a BD at Dublin in 1972 and an M.Th at Queen's in 1991.
During his ministry at Hillsborough, Jane taught in the Science
Department at Dromore High School and Banbridge Academy. Their
sons meantime, followed their own careers - Carl is a news
presenter and correspondent for Channel 4 News; Paul is teaching
English, after Drama School and a period on the stage; and
Andrew is serving with the RAF Regiment and is currently based
at their headquarters in Suffolk.
The next generation of the Dinnen family has arrived and John
and Jane are now the proud grandparents of three young
grandchildren; Harper, age 2 (son of Carl and Pauline); Jacob
age 1' (son of Andrew and Claire); and Finbar, age 1' (son of
Paul and Anna).
John says of his forthcoming retirement, 'Hillsborough is a
place of very special people, among whom we have been
privileged to live and work. It has, under God, a great
future, full of immense challenges. People here will always be
in our prayers as they work and witness for Jesus in their
community. I pray that the leadership of the church family
will have real support and encouragement for growing the
church here in the future. Once we are over the house moving,
we look forward to serving the Lord in new ways and new
A farewell reception for John and Jane Dinnen will be held
following morning worship on Sunday 23rd December. John will
preach his final sermon as rector of Hillsborough at a
Watchnight Service on (New Years Eve) Monday 31st December at
11.30pm - a most appropriate time to mark a long and faithful
ministry at this historic church.