Pope Francis appoints new bishop

Pope Francis appoints new Bishop of Kilmore

The 10 o'clock mass on Monday morning at the Cathedral of Ss Patrick and Phelim was a a unique ceremony, not only as the first public service in the hallowed cathedral in 16 weeks, but also because of the announcement of the appointment of Very Reverend Martin Hayes as the new Bishop of Kilmore.

The appointment by Pope Francis of Father Hayes as Bishop of Kilmore was welcomed by the previous Bishop Leo O’Reilly: “I know that the people of Kilmore, priests, religious and lay, will make him very welcome too and take him to their hearts.”

The Diocese has been without a bishop since January 2019 when Bishop O'Reilly retired due to health reasons after some 21 years of service in the role; Monsignor Liam Kelly had acted as Diocesan Administrator in the interim.

The official announcement of the new bishop was made by papal nuncio Jude Thaddeus Okolo. In his address to the congregation Archbishop Okolo said the diocese had given so much to the Catholic Church. He referenced the recent contributions of Archbishop Michael Router, Bishop Francis Duffy and the former Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Sean Brady.

Addressing the congregation Bishop elect Hayes said it was a “good day in the midst of difficult time”. He spoke of the “great honour” of the appointment and also referenced the “rich tradition” the Diocese of Kilmore had in serving the church.

“It is a great honour and I am very conscious of the rich tradition of the faith of the people of Kilmore. I am privileged to be chosen by Pope Francis and I feel very humbled,” the Bishop elect said.

In a moving address he spoke of the the importance of family in the formation of his faith and recalled loved ones who had passed: “I am especially conscious today of my late parents Dan and Mary Agnes and my sister Mary who died in infancy and my brother-in-law Donal Buckley. I would also like to remember my Auntie Dakie, Sister Annunciata Hayes PVBM, who died just three weeks ago. May they rest in peace.”

He continued: “I would like to thank Monsignor Liam (Kelly), in his role as Diocesan Administrator for his kind welcome extended to me and for his coordination with Father Kevin Fay Adm., of the preparations for today.”

The new bishop also outlined his connections with Kilmore diocese through his time spent in the Irish College in Rome, in particular, as Cardinal Sean Brady was the kindly Rector and Father Gabriel Kelly was a fellow postgraduate student. He also said he had met Father Martin Gilcreest through his work with ACCORD and Sean Coll in preparing for the World Meeting of Families.

"I am aware of the time invested in pastoral planning in Kilmore and the efforts to respond in changing times with a mission that can be effective and relevant. The Church of the future is about the increased involvement of lay people; of people and priests working together. My brief, initially, will be to listen, learn and perhaps draw upon my recent experience with others of pastoral planning in Cashel & Emly," he said.

Bishop Hayes told the congregation he would “pray we can work together to nurture the faith” and complete his address by saying: “I would like to conclude my words this morning with a short scripture quotation, which in fact is the motto of my Ordination Class of 1989, 'Act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God'.”

Monsignor Liam Kelly said there was a “feeling of unrivalled joy” in the appointment of the new pastor for all the people of the diocese of Kilmore: “I have assured him there will be a warm welcome for him here. We will give him our support and prayers and we hope he will be blessed with contentment and joy in his new role.”

Monsignor Kelly joked that there would be no “transfer fee” to be paid to the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, as Cavan had contributed generously to the church. The Monsignor thanked the ushers for their sterling work in ensuring that the ceremony was conducted in a safe and welcoming manner that respected social distancing.

Outgoing Bishop, Leo O’Reilly, acknowledged the challenge faced by the new appointment: “Bishop-elect Martin takes up his task at a very challenging time for the Church and for society in Ireland. His ministry as a priest in the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, and particularly his work in the area of pastoral development and renewal there, has prepared him well for the task ahead. I assure him of my prayerful support and I wish him every blessing and happiness in his new role as Bishop of Kilmore.”

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