I warmly welcome the news today that the Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed Father Kevin Doran as the new Bishop of Elphin in succession to Bishop Christopher Jones.
I have worked closely with Bishop-elect Doran over the years in many pastoral areas, in particular to promote the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life. He is well known nationally as a brave advocate for the right to life of the unborn child, as well as being an articulate Church spokesperson for the important, complex and ever more relevant moral issues of medical ethics and bioethics. In addition, in the area of encouraging vocations to the priesthood, Bishop-elect Doran is recognised as having invested much energy and leadership in his former role as National Coordinator of Diocesan Vocations. In 2012 his effective role as Secretary General of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland was instrumental in making this global faith gathering such a success for the national and international pilgrims in attendance.
On behalf of the Bishops of the Metropolitan province of Tuam, I wish to take this opportunity to welcome Bishop-elect Kevin as a member of the Western Bishops of Ireland. His gifts and experience will no doubt make a valuable contribution to the Church in Ireland.
On this day it is with mixed emotions that I say farewell to Bishop Jones in his role as Bishop of Elphin. Regardless of the prevailing cultural climate, the ministry of Bishop Jones has been characterised by his courage and commitment to preach the Gospel and at all times to serve the common good. As priest and bishop he always sought to improve the lot of the most vulnerable. From the moment I first met the then Father Christopher Jones I was struck by his acute social conscience and his unwavering commitment to achieve justice for all. Bishop Christy is first and foremost a much loved local pastor and popular shepherd of the faithful. He is a role model for all who are committed to building a civilization of love. His generous spirit is evident in his tireless support and promotion of marriage and family life. As president of ACCORD, the Catholic Marriage Care Service, and as Chair of the Bishops’ Council for Marriage and the Family, Bishop Christy has consistently raised awareness of the importance of marriage and the family as a positive influence on our society.
The West of Ireland owes a great debt of gratitude to the work of Bishop Jones who helped to keep the Western Development Commission operating and in existence in the face of this Government’s austerity programme. The importance of the WDC for the social and economic development of the counties of Donegal, Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Galway and Clare, cannot be overstated.
I know that my sentiments are shared not just by the Western bishops, but indeed by bishops, priests, religious and the many people throughout Ireland who have been fortunate to be touched by his ministry. I wish Bishop Jones God’s blessing for a long, happy and healthy retirement.
- Archbishop Michael Neary is Archbishop of Tuam
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