Bishop Smith celebrates annual Mass in honour of Saint Oliver Plunkett

30 Jun 2013


In his homily, Bishop Smith reflected on the quality of service which Saint Oliver Plunkett gave to his Church and country.


Saint Oliver was a person and a priest of the utmost integrity.  He sought to live out the vocation he has accepted with fidelity even unto death. He could have saved his life by compromising and accepting offers made to him.  However these would have compromised the integrity of his commitment to his vocation and violated his conscience.

The example of Saint Oliver is striking in these times when compromise, following current fashion and media hype are much in vogue.

This is especially so on the issue at present before the Dáil, touching the most fundamental of all rights, the right to life. A refusal to engage with the serious issues involved, media distortion and misrepresentation, the imposition of a party whip which ignores conscience, all these factors demean the discussion.

Is party unity more important than a decision to enshrine the taking of the life of the innocent unborn child in our laws?  This decision will, over the decades, have profound consequences for life and society.

When Saint Oliver had difficult decisions to make, he was not swayed by personal convenience or social pressures, an example that is much absent in these times when opinion polls take precedence over those fundamental moral principles that give cohesion and substance to life and to society.


  • Bishop Michael Smith is Bishop of Meath
  • Saint Oliver Plunkett was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Meath in 1654.  Saint Oliver’s ministry included his appointment as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland  (9 July 1669 – 1 July 1681).  He was martyred in Tyburn, England, in 1681.  He was canonised as a martyr by Pope Paul VI in 1975.  Each year celebration of the life and ministry of Saint Oliver takes place at his birthplace in the Diocese of Meath in front of the old ruined Church at Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co Meath, which was the birthplace of Saint Oliver Plunkett.

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