"He was just a beautiful man."
Father Francis 'Frank' Bell passed away in the early hours of last Monday morning at a retirement home in Wagga Wagga with 94 years under his belt.
As assistant priest in Griffith from 1953 to 1956, he was the parish priest for Narrandera after a 13 year stint in South America as a missionary.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to his memorial service, to be held at St Mel's Catholic Church in Narrandera on Friday at 10.00am.
While Fr Bell officially retired, he kept his finger on the pulse of his "beloved" Griffith parish.
"He would visit and help with reconciliation for the schools, primary and secondary schools, and would regularly help out with Christmas and Easter reconciliations, and he was doing that well into his 90s," Father Andrew Grace said.
Fr Grace remembers his particular turn of phrase, which had poignant imagery about the importance of regular confession.
"He would jovially say 'I'm going to dust the lilies' when he went off to hear the nuns' confessions," he remembered.
I will always treasure my moments with him and his gentle, beautiful and loving personality that welcomed me no matter what.Sister Maybelle dela Cruz MACE
"It's a beautiful phrase, to keep them spiritually on track."
Devoted to reconciliation, Fr Bell would often come to assist giving primary and secondary school students with the sacrament.
Known for his humility, Fr Grace said he was very much ahead of his time.
With Pope Francis telling priests to not drive around in flash cars, Fr Bell always drove around in an old, beaten-up car with his iconic sticker.
As confessor for the MACE and Scalabrini sisters, he was not just a trusted confidant but more like a spiritual father.
Remembering his generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness, MACE sisters Maybelle dela Cruz and Asuncion (Siony) Lorezo share their memories.
Last year, Sister Lorenzo went to Peru, and took great pleasure in swapping stories with Fr Bell.
"He was meant to say 'shepherd', but because of the pronunciation, he was saying 'cat'. He was telling them to 'trust and follow your cat'."
Always taking time to visit and bring gifts, the greatest gift he gave Sister dela Cruz was that of love.
"I will always treasure my moments with him and his gentle, beautiful and loving personality that welcomed me no matter what," Sister dela Cruz said.
"I am so blessed to have him as my spiritual director, and know he is in heaven as I speak now. We all send our warm regards and thoughts to Fr Bell."