Kilmore welcomes new Bishop in 'strange times'

The Diocese of Kilmore welcomed its new 'Chief Shepherd' bishop with this afternoon's Episcopal Ordination Mass for Bishop Martin Hayes.

While the Covid-19 couldn't stop this special occasion from happening at Cavan Cathedral, the pandemic lefts it impact with a much reduced congregation to comply with health guidelines, and mentions in both the new bishop's address and the homily given by Archbishop Eamon Martin.

Bishop-elect Very Rev. Martin Hayes greets alter servers before the Episcopal ordination ceremony. PICS: John McElroy Photo by JOHN MC ELROY

Mercifully the Tipperary native was able to share the occasion with the majority of his close family.

"Yes, once again," began Bishop Martin, "we say, ‘these are strange times’! We have had to change our plans – I had hoped to have all the cousins, friends, and parishioners of Kilmore here - and now, in caring for everyone’s health, we are reaching out to you online. In fact, we are connecting with more people as we celebrate our bonds with family, friends, and parishioners at home."

He remembered his parents, Dan and Mary Agnes, late sister Mary, brother-in-law, Donal, Auntie Dakie/Sister Annunciata "in a special way".

"We remember those who have died due to COVID-19, all the bereaved and all who are sick at this time. In these difficult times, we find ourselves at ‘home’ - ‘appreciating even more where we have come from’ – home being ‘the domestic Church’."

Bishop Hayes acknowledged that everyone is struggling to find a ‘new normal’ in light of the pandemic.

Bishop Martin Hayes stands holding the patrol staff before sitting on the chair of the Bishop of Kilmore.PICS: John McElroy Photo by JOHN MC ELROY

"In truth we are all in a time of transition; our old order has not just been disturbed, we have been thrown into chaos, there is no going back to the old order and so we are in disorder. Yes, we are having conversations, discussions, formulating plans and roadmaps, changing them, rewriting them, floundering, coming up with new plans – we are realising that we are not totally in charge of our own destiny.

"The chaos brought about by COVID-19 has affected all our plans, my plans, yet I have been hearing a voice saying, ‘it will all work out’!"

"There have been times that I asked, does that voice know what it is saying? Indeed, as I reflect upon how my life has changed in the past few months, I have asked myself do I know what is ahead? The answer is ‘No’! Is it going to work out for me, for us? Yes. It is a process."

He said that while we are "awaiting and entering a time of reorder in our world" faith will be our guide.

"We go forward into the unknown, into this disorder or liminal space trusting in the Cross of Jesus Christ, the same Jesus Christ who has been with us from the beginning and who came among us to be with us, as one of us, in response to God’s love for all of us."


Bishop Hayes was grateful for the welcome he has received since arriving in Kilmore.

"I know that I am among a people of faith and friendship in our parishes in the counties of Cavan, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Sligo and Meath. I want to assure my family and friends that while Kilmore may be a little further up the road, indeed, the weather may be a little colder - actually, one lady in Tipp told me to bring an extra layered jumper - however, I am assured of warm hearts in the welcome that I have already received."

He observed that we don't have to earn God’s love.

"God loves us through the wonder of all creation, from the moment of our conception, in the love of family and friends and we can be assured, in accord with my chosen motto that ‘Good Lord’, “your steadfast love endures”.

"Yes, COVID-19 presents challenges and obstacles for all of us here in getting out to meet each other to celebrate our faith in the diocese of Kilmore. It is my intention to get out among you in our parish communities and I look forward to finding my feet among you.

"I know of the tradition of faith rooted in the scriptures and expressed in the pastoral planning as promoted by my predecessor Bishop Emeritus Leo O’Reilly will provide the foundation for whatever happens as we remember to depend absolutely upon God’s loving presence among us.

He concluded his address extending his thanks adding to everyone for their "prayers and kindness to me".

"Your support has been tremendous, your excitement and joy uplifting – ye’re absolutely mighty!"

Amongst those in attendance were Archbishop Eamon Martin, who led the ceremony, His Excellency, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, representing Pope Francis, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, and those the bishop described as the ‘Kilmore bishops’ Cardinal Sean Brady, Bishops Francis Duffy, Michael Router and Bishop Emeritus Leo O’Reilly.

"I thank you Bishop Leo, especially, for your welcome, kindly ongoing support and I wish you good health and contentment in your retirement," said Bishop Hayes.

Bishop Hayes is the 49th Bishop of Kilmore, an unbroken lineage that dates back to 1135, when Aedh Ua Finn became the first bishop.


Archbishop Eamon Martin used his homily to launch what he called a Family Rosary Crusade against Covid.

"These past six months have reminded us of the importance of the “domestic Church” - the Church of the sitting room and kitchen! It has highlighted the vocation of parents as the primary teachers of faith and prayer in the home and family. That is why I am calling for a “Family Rosary Crusade against Covid” during the month of October. I would be grateful for your support in encouraging families here, and throughout Ireland, to pray the Rosary each day during October - or even one decade of the Rosary - for themselves, their loved ones and for all those whose health or livelihood is being seriously impacted by the coronavirus crisis," said the archbishop.