Archbishop's message of hope

Bawnboy Cleric lands expanded role

Bawnboy-native and recently appointed Archbishop of Tuam, Francis Duffy, is to play a central role in administering the largest diocesan restructuring of the Irish Catholic Church in almost 900 years.

It follows a series of episcopal changes announced by Pope Francis in Rome last week, and by Papal Nuncio to Ireland, His Excellency Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayer in Tuam, which will see the six dioceses of the Western Province overseen by just three bishops.

Archbishop Francis Duffy has now been appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of the ecclesiastical province of Tuam, as Apostolic Administrator sede vacante of the Diocese of Killala.

It follows the resignation of Bishop John Fleming, Bishop of Killala, on the grounds of age.

Other appointments include Bishop Paul Dempsey, until now Bishop of Achonry, as Titular Bishop of Sita and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Dublin; and Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin, as Apostolic Administrator sede vacante of the Diocese of Achonry.

The Archbishop of Tuam, Archbishop Duffy, together with Archbishop Montemayer; Bishop Fleming; Bishop Doran; Bishop Michael Duignan, Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh & Kilfenora, and Bishop of Clonfert; and, Bishop Dempsey, will concelebrated Mass in the Cathedral of the Assumption after the announcements were made.

Before taking up his role in Tuam, Bishop Duffy had, since 2013, been Bishop of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, which takes in some parishes in south Co Cavan.

A former teacher at Saint Patrick’s College, Cavan, and principal of Fatima and Felim’s Secondary School, Ballinamore, he served as Diocesan Secretary, Financial Administrator and Chancellor in Kilmore prior to his elevation to Bishop.

Speaking of the diocesan changes in the west of the country, Bishop Duffy noted the announcement of “this level of change” in the episcopate in one province at the same time was indeed “quite significant”.

However, he suggested that it did create the possibility of exploring a “closer union” between the Archdiocese of Tuam and the Diocese of Killala, and between the Dioceses of Elphin and Achonry, not unlike the process already underway in the Dioceses of Galway and Clonfert.

The changes follow on from consultations carried out by the Apostolic Nuncio with groupings of people in Achonry, Elphin, Killala and Tuam. A lot of ground-work in both the civil and canonical spheres will still need to be carried out, Bishop Duffy acknowledged.

“Any such change would involve living communities and could not be simply structural or administrative. It would require careful discernment over some time, involving the whole people of God in the respective Dioceses.”