Episcopal Ordination today of Father Kevin Doran as Bishop of Elphin

13 Jul 2014

· “I would hope that, in the very near future, we will – as a diocesan community – develop a new strategy for the promotion of vocations and of a vocational culture” – Bishop Doran

· Ceremony to be streamed and broadcast live on Ocean FM and Shannonside Northern Sound with commentary by Father Eamonn O Connor

The Episcopal Ordination of Father Kevin Doran as Bishop of Elphin takes place at 5:30pm today, Sunday 13 July 2014, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo. Media are invited to meet briefly with Bishop-elect Doran at 4:30pm in Gillooly Hall (opposite the Cathedral).

In Attendance
Along with Father Doran’s family and friends over 150 priests (mainly from the Diocese of Elphin and the Archdiocese of Dublin), 30 Bishops, 25 Permanent Deacons and representatives from various Christian communities will also be present. These will be joined by over 500 representatives from parishes throughout the diocese and from various diocesan organisations, and over 50 representatives from various voluntary caring organisations will be present. The liturgy will be signed for the deaf community. Please see below for publication:

– Liturgical roles for the Episcopal Ordination Mass
– Words of greeting to the faithful by chief celebrant Bishop Christopher Jones
– Homily of Canon Liam Devine
– Remarks of the new Bishop of Elphin, the Most Reverend Kevin Doran
– Explanation of the Coat of Arms and Episcopal Motto of Bishop Doran
– Background to the life and ministry of Bishop Doran

Liturgical roles for the Episcopal Ordination Mass
Principal Ordaining Bishop: Most Rev Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin (assisted by His Excellency Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland and Most Rev Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam)
Accompanying Priests: Fr Michael Murphy (Archdiocese of Dublin) and Fr Declan Hurley (Diocese of Meath)
Deacons: Deacon Frank Mc Guinness and Deacon Wando de Araujo
Entrance Procession: The Mass will begin with the concelebrating Bishops being led by one representative of each Pastoral Parish Council in the Diocese. Each representative carries a small earthenware pot (produced by Benbulben Pottery) containing soil from their parish and these are emptied into a miniature “field” symbolising our communion and our partnership in mission. As the Gospel will remind us, we are the soil in which the Lord wishes to sow the seed of his Word.
Apostolic Letter from Pope Francis will be presented to the College of Consultors and read by Monsignor Gerard Dolan, Parish Priest of Rosses Point and Vicar General of the Diocese.
Homily will be given by Very Rev Canon Liam Devine PP, Parish Priest of the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul, Athlone.
Music for the Ceremony will be led by the Choir of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception under the direction of Mr Charles O’Connor, Choir Master and Organist accompanied by Trumpeter Michael Casey and Traditional Musicians Margaret, Kate, Paddy and Tom Gavin.
Musical pieces specially composed for the occasion:
The Psalm by Mr Michael Quinn, Organist Sacred Heart Parish, Donnybrook.
A Prayer to St Asicus – This piece was composed especially for today’s ceremony by the Cathedral’s Organist and Director of Sacred Music – Mr Charles O Connor.The piece is played by the Gavin family – Paddy Gavin on accordion, Tom Gavin on flute, Kate Gavin on fiddle and accompanied by Charles O’Connor on piano. The Gavin family provide liturgical music in an Irish traditional style every Sunday at the cathedral.
Word of Welcome and Catechesis will be given by Ms Colette Furlong, Catechist, Sligo Parishes Cluster.
First Reading: Ms Elaine O Brien
Psalm: Mr Tommy McDonagh
Second Reading as Gaeilge: An tUasal Michael O Brionn
The Episcopal Ring will be brought forward by Fr Doran’s sister Ms Patricia Doran
The Mitre and Zuchetto will be brought forward by Fr Doran’s sister Ms Colette McCarron
The Gillooly Crozier (1858) will be brought forward by Ms Evelyn O Donnell who served as Chairperson of the Elphin Diocesan Pastoral Council.
Offertory Procession: The Altar will be dressed by six recently confirmed children and the offertory gifts borne in procession by Dawn, James, Patrick and Áine Mullooly from the Parish of Knockcroghery, Co Roscommon.
Altar Servers from College of the Immaculate Conception, Summerhill,
Ursuline College and the Cathedral Parish under the guidance of Ms Colette Divers and Mr Raymond Cotter.
The Ceremony will be signed by Fr Gerard Tyrrell, Frankie Berry and Andrea McGoldrick (National Council for Deaf People).
Altar Society and Cathedral Decoration: Ms Helen Coleman and her excellent team; Mr James Darwin and Volunteers from the Sligo Mens’ Shed
Sacristans: Ms Betty Comiskey; Mr Kieran Maughan; Ms Helen Watters, Mr Michael Downs.
Master of Ceremonies: Rev Michael Duignan
Greeting: An element of the liturgy will be Bishop Kevin’s greeting of
· representatives from the six deaneries of the Diocese

· religious men and women working in the diocese

· representatives of other Christian churches and ecclesial communities

· deacons and priests of the Diocese of Elphin

Ecumenical representatives present are the Very Rev Arfon Williams, the Ven Ian Linton, Canon Patrick Bamber, Canon Lis Mc Elhinney; Canon Derick Swan, Rev Mike and Ann Wooderson, Rev Ken Rue (Church of Ireland), Rev Alan Mitchell; Rev R.S Agnew (Presbyterian Church); Rev Stephen Taylor (Methodist Church).

Words of greeting to the faithful by chief celebrant Bishop Christopher Jones

Inniu ócáid stairiúl, ócaid lucháireach I saol ar ndeoise nuair a dhéanfar an t’athair Caoimhín O Doráin a oirniú in a Easbog Ailfinne. Cuirimid fíor chaoin fáilte roimh Caoimhín mar chomharba. Cuirmid fáilte freisin roimh gach duine ata cruinnithe anseo in Ard Eaglais Muire gan small I Shligheach – roimh an Papal Nuncio Cathhal O Brún, roimh an Chairdinéal Sean O Bhrádaigh, roimh na hArd Easbaig Micheal Neary, Dermot Clifford agus Eamonn Mairtín, roimh na h-Easbuig uilig agus roimh an Phobal Dé idir Cléir agus Tuath, óg agus aosta.

Aontaimid le Muire gan small – Patrún deoise Ailfinne agus le hAsach Naofa agus guímid go bhanaimid I gconaí dílis don chreideamh agus dar n-oidhreacht.

Today I welcome all of you to the ordination of Father Kevin Doran as bishop of the diocese of Elphin. I welcome especially Father Kevin himself and his two sisters Patricia and Colette. I welcome warmly our Papal Nuncio, Charles Brown, our Cardinal Séan Brady, our Archbishops Michael Neary, Dermot Clifford and Eamonn Martin, all of our bishops, all of our priests and deacons, all our religious and all of you the people of God who have gathered with us today.

A very warm welcome to the Clergy of other Churches; Very Rev Arfon Williams, The Ven Ian Linton, Canon Patrick Bamber, Canon Lis Mc Elhinney; Canon Derick Swan, Rev Mike and Ann Wooderson, Rev Ken Rue (Church of Ireland), Rev Alan Mitchell; Rev R.S Agnew (Presbyterian Church); Rev Stephen Taylor (Methodist Church). I welcome also representatives of Public Authorities:
– Marian Harkin, member of the European Parliament
– Teachti Dála: John Perry, Frank Feighan, Tony McLaughlin
– Seanadóiri: Terry Leyden, Rónán Mullen, Susan O’Keeffe, Michael Comiskey and all representatives of County Councils here present today.

This is truly an historic day for all of us. Today by the imposition of hands and through the words of Consecration the Grace of the Holy Spirit is given to Father Kevin who, in this diocese takes the place of Christ Himself as teacher, shepherd and priest, acting as His Representative (LG 31). You will discover in time Father Kevin that you have been called to serve in this diocese, priests, deacons, religious and people of God who are deeply devoted to their Lord and to the Church they love. Indeed their love will make the love of God visible and tangible for you daily and be your greatest source of strength as their bishop.

Today, as bishop in the line of Apostolic Succession, I have the great privilege of ordaining my successor as Bishop of the Diocese of Elphin. This ceremony has its roots going back through centuries to Christ, who called and sent forth the Apostles as the first bishops of our Church.

Homily of Canon Liam Devine
We gather today on this momentous and historic occasion when another chapter is added to the long history of Elphin diocese with the ordination of Father Kevin Doran as our bishop. This ancient territory bearing the footprints of Saint Patrick touches the very cradle of Christianity in this part of the country. The Diocese of Elphin as we know it today dates back to the Synod of Kells in 1152 and in modern day geographical terms stretches from the bridge of Athlone to the bridge of Bunduff near Bundoran. The Episcopal See of Elphin is of much greater antiquity and can be traced back to the fifth century when Saint Patrick appointed Saint Asicus as his disciple and first Abbot Bishop of the Church of Elphin.

There is little structural evidence of the early church in Elphin apart from the ruins of the eighteenth century Anglican Cathedral which marks the site of the medieval Catholic Cathedral. However, the most important link with the early and medieval Church in Elphin is the witness of faith that has been lived and handed down from century to century by a devoted God loving people of faith.

The landscape of our 37 parishes of the diocese is dotted with monastic and medieval church ruins, holy wells, memorials, Mass rocks and other revered hermitages of prayer and reliquaries of our Christian past, all of which denote a vibrant Church during a difficult and repressive period of history.

We assemble here today in this our 19th century Romanesque style Cathedral to cherish our Christian heritage and build on the faith of those gone before us. We have converged from the four corners of our diocese, and beyond, to prayerfully participate in the ordination of our 69th spiritual leader of this ancient See of Elphin. The ordination of a bishop is a life-long unbroken apostolic tradition which began with Jesus appointing His twelve Apostles. Our ceremony today marks another significant milestone in the sacred missionary journey of a pilgrim, prayerful and zealous people of God.

Our Cathedral where we gather today, with its old world of architecture, provides a reflective and prayerful ambience for the ancient apostolic ceremony which traces its origins to the Old Testament when God revealed Himself to his people. This Cathedral is the only example of Romanesque-style Cathedral built during the nineteenth century period in Irish ecclesiastical architecture. A much admired edifice, with its picturesque Ben Bulben backdrop, it stands as a memorial to the faith of generations of Catholics in this diocese and is an oasis of hope for those who strive to love and serve God through the differing influences and challenges of a transient history.

It is significant that the anchor, the symbol of hope, should be included in Father Kevin’s new Coat of Arms as Bishop of Elphin. The Doran family motto is Spes Ancora Vitae (Hope is the Anchor of Life). The motto on the Elphin Diocesan crest is Dominus spes mea (The Lord is my hope). At the tenth Synod of Bishops held in Rome in October 2001 the theme was ‘The Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World’. Writing in his Apostolic Exhortation after the Synod, Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul wrote, “It is in fact the task of every Bishop to proclaim hope to the world, hope based on the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a hope which, as Saint Paul writes in Corinthians, surpasses anything that the human heart has ever conceived” and which today’s second reading from Romans says “what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us”.

The bishop is called in a particular way to be a prophet, witness and servant of hope, and this hope, together with faith and love, must completely shape the bishop’s pastoral ministry. Saint Peter in his first letter writes “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.” This leaves us in no doubt that we all have an obligation to have a sound knowledge and understanding of the teaching of the Church and why She teaches what She teaches. The Church has no mandate except to be faithful to the Gospel and the teaching of Jesus Christ, and must be a prophetic voice challenging the values of the world with the values of the Gospel. Jesus Christ and His gospel is our hope. Witnessing to that hope in today’s world when we are often faced with a bleak landscape of falling vocations, a selective and sometimes hostile media and dwindling Mass attendances can be a very challenging and heavy burden for a bishop. But we must cling to the hope based on the promises and assurances of Jesus Christ to His apostles; “I will not abandon you, I will not leave you orphans, I will be with you all days to the end of the world.” Our hope is not grounded in worldly success or personal achievement but in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. He is our anchor.

The world needs the “hope that does not disappoint” and we know that this hope is Jesus Christ. We pray today that the Holy Spirit will inspire Bishop Kevin and that his chosen motto ‘Unum Corpus in Christo’, ‘One Body in Christ’, will be realized as he lives out his vocation to be the servant of communion in our diocese; teaching, sanctifying and governing the people of God in imitation of the Good Shepherd.

Today’s first reading from Isaiah adds substance to the parable in the Gospel. Concluding his message of consolation to the Jewish people during their exile, he urges them to be hopeful.  He makes rain a symbol for the powerful word of God. Rain comes down and makes the earth fruitful; just so, God’s word rains down and enriches the world. The world, like parched earth, is waiting for the rain of God’s word. It reminds us too that the seed of God’s word as sown by Saint Asicus, and down through the centuries by Boetius Egan, Patrick Burke, George Browne, Laurence Gillooly, Vincent Hanly, Dominic Conway and Christy Jones was done with characteristic commitment, fidelity and service to the Pobal Dé. The Gospel is the parable of the sower and the seed. It is very apt for what we are celebrating today. Everything that comes out of today’s Gospel is an invitation to respond.

Gardeners and farmers know that seed is always sown in hope. They also know that the seed must have the proper conditions of growth; good quality soil, light, heat and water and the proper support when growing. The seeds of God’s word sown at baptism, and the seeds of a vocation need the proper conditions for growth. Those conditions are best found in the home where the faith is a lived experience, where family prayers are as much part of the daily routine as family meals, where attending Mass is not an additional extra but an essential part of a family’s faith journey, where the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Christian values take priority and where God is in “the bits and pieces” of their everyday. The seed is the Word of God. Early on in the parable there is talk of the unbelief of those who hear and yet do not hear, who see and do not see. There are far too many dangers opposed to the seed of God’s Word growing: the unworkable, stony ground, the weeds, the bad weather – everything seems to condemn this work as a failure.  It is not unlike the situation in Ireland today. And yet, however much is done in vain, there are always seeds that germinate and thrive for the harvest, that despite all perils there are some seeds that grow to bear fruit.

This Gospel story is reminding us that all fruitful things begin in our world with what is small and hidden.  God entered our world incognito, in the form of a vulnerable, powerless child. The tiny seed of God’s word will always thrive in the soil that is our trusting hearts. The parable is telling us that despite all obstacles the word of God will bear fruit. Here in our Cathedral church today the story of the sower is beginning once again. Father Kevin Doran puts himself at the Lord’s disposal as a sower of the word. The Lord’s parable touches Kevin’s arable heart with words of encouragement, of hope from the Gospel of joy.
God is still continually moving incognito through our time and story today. He is still disguising his presence in the garb of powerlessness.  The Gospel values, love, peace, truth, faith, forgiveness and justice, are the powerless things in our world. And yet – this parable reminds us that God’s harvest is growing and is ripening somewhere in our world. Secretly the world lives from the fact that in it, people are still continually sowing seeds of believing, hoping and loving.

Saint Paul refers to suffering in his letter to the Romans.  Paul endured many a hopeless impasse, coupled with catastrophes, weakness and opposition and yet he shares with us his personal experiences of undaunted hope in the goodness of God. Saint Paul invites us to recognise God’s nearness through what is hidden – what is God’s harvest. Christ is the word of eternal love that God is sowing upon the earth. He is the grain of wheat that dies in order to bear fruit.

In our Mass of Episcopal Ordination today we will hold God’s grain of wheat in our hands, the bread that is Christ, who is the life of the world. There are countless grains but one loaf, Unum Corpus in Christo. This is the joyful harvest of communion, love and peace. And so as we welcome a new bishop a new chapter is about to be written in the celebrated history of our diocese. But we must not forget the man who wrote the previous chapter. Bishop Christy’s life is one of unique service, commitment and quiet dedication. His presence is inspiring. His goodness tangible. His prayer life and faith are convincing. He has sown seeds of hospitality in the soil of every person’s heart. He saw in the Pobal Dé a rich resource of soil to receive God’s word. Dominus Spes Mea – ‘The Lord is my hope’ – is the lens through which Bishop Christy shepherded, guided, advised us and sought advice from us. Let us accompany Bishop Christy into his well-earned retirement with our prayers and presence, our faith and friendship, our compassion and companionship. He doesn’t look for or want our thanks – but – he deserves it. Míle Buíochas. He is the one who will yield a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty. Bishop Christy: let the song of your people become the rhythm of your step. Whoever walks in hope, is already living his tomorrow. You will never be forgotten.

And so we welcome Father Kevin as his successor. As a diocese, we thank the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for sending us Father Kevin as our bishop. I wish to assure you, Father Kevin, before your Episcopal ordination in a few minutes, of a very warm West of Ireland welcome and every good wish, and the prayers, support and co-operation of everyone in the diocese for you, both priests and people. Today we think of your family and thank your late parents Marie and Joseph for the example of their faith, and the support and encouragement they provided for you when you decided to answer God’s call to serve Him as a priest in the Church. They are celebrating with us today as you are ordained to the fullness of the priesthood. I welcome your sisters Colette and Patricia and your relations and friends here today.

A special word of welcome to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Dublin who are here with you today. They used to say that Dublin teams didn’t play well away from Dublin. That doesn’t apply to the present Dublin team and it certainly doesn’t apply to Father Kevin. He has already earned an international reputation for his successful organising of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in 2012 and in his many roles pastorally and academically in his own diocese, at national level and in the Pontifical Irish College, Rome. A man with a deep devotion to the Blessed Eucharist and Our Blessed Lady, Father Kevin has shown that he is a man of principle with the courage to stand up for Christian values and be counted when the law of the land is in direct conflict with the law of God and His Church. We thank God for that leadership.

It is unlikely that Father Kevin is the first bearded bishop in Elphin. Even our learned diocesan historian, Father Francis Beirne, was unable to establish if you are the first priest from Dublin to be appointed to this diocese. I have no doubt that you will adapt to your new life in the West of Ireland. It will, however, be somewhat of a culture shock to move from the leafy suburbs of Dublin 4 to the puzzling cobweb of pot holed ‘boreens’ on the side of the Curlews or Slieve Bawn. Pope Francis, in his famous sermon on his First Holy Thursday as Pontiff, said that “the priest or bishop is carrying his flock with all their crosses, pains and anxieties. The oil of Chrism flowing on his head brings him back to his baptism and the coming of the Holy Spirit, but it flows to the outer hem of his garment to remind him that he must reach the ‘outskirts’ of society where there is “suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters”. The good shepherd must put his “own skin and his heart on line” and those around him must be able to perceive the “smell of the sheep off him.” The Holy Father was speaking metaphorically, of course, but Father Kevin, if you want to literally smell the sheep you couldn’t have come to a better diocese. Roscommon is the sheep capital of the world. As you drive around the diocese, you will meet reminders in every field and sometimes on the roadside, and sometimes across the road blocking your way that will leave you in no doubt that the Church’s preferred image for a bishop is that he is the Shepherd of his flock. From Cliffoney to Clonown, from Ahascragh to Ballagh, from Caltra to Calry, from Faitrymount to Fuerty we extend a hearty céad míle fáilte to you. We wish you many long, happy and fulfilled years as the Shepherd of the flock in this diocese. Our faith in Jesus, the Good Shepherd, gives us the strength to look to the future with hope and confidence. May the Holy Spirit inspire you as you work among us teaching, sanctifying and governing the People of God in this diocese. Welcome to the sheepfold that is the diocese of Elphin.

Remarks of the new Bishop of Elphin, Bishop Kevin Doran
Since my appointment as bishop of Elphin, I have been very conscious of the rich Christian heritage of our diocese, dating as it does from the time of Saint Patrick. We celebrated that great tradition of faith in our vigil of prayer last night and Father Liam has also recalled it in the course of his homily. The important thing is that places like Boyle Abbey and Inishmurray and our various Holy Wells are not just reminders of the past. The faith which they represent is lived and celebrated today in towns and villages throughout our diocese. We build on foundations that have been laid by others. Where others have sown the seed, we reap the harvest. Our faith, like the very land on which we live, is entrusted to us for the generations who will come after us. This is a sacred trust.

The crozier that I am using today was first used over 150 years ago by Bishop Laurence Gillooly, who led a period of great renewal in the diocese of Elphin. For me, this symbolises continuity and communion – the challenge in these new times, to witness to a truth that is eternal. For much the same reason, I was delighted that Bishop Jones agreed to ordain me today with the help of Archbishop Neary and Archbishop Brown. For twenty years, Bishop Christy has given generously of himself as bishop of this diocese. He has been most generous in the welcome that he has given me and, in these past two months, I have been amazed at his energy, his commitment and his good humour.
Like many grandparents these days, whose wisdom and faith, not to mention their availability, are such a gift to their children and their grandchildren, it is my hope that Bishop Christy will now find a new way to place his wisdom and faith at the service of God and of God’s people. He remains a bishop and a priest of our diocese and we will continue to pray for him daily at Mass.

While I am on the theme of gratitude – and without going into too much detail – I want to acknowledge the great generosity with which so many people have helped to prepare for our celebrations today and yesterday; the staff of the cathedral and of the diocesan and parish offices; the teams of volunteers who washed and polished everything in sight; the choir under the direction of Charles O’Connor; the servers; the young people who led the vigil of prayer and all who participated in today’s liturgy; those who looked after the catering, the stewarding and the communications. I thank An Garda Síochána, the Civil Defence, the Order of Malta and the County Council for their generous cooperation. I am grateful to the men and women of the media for their presence and their professionalism. I thank you, my family and my friends, who are so much a part of my life. Most of all of course I give thanks to God who has led me to these new pastures and given me a new community with which to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I want to welcome very warmly my fellow bishops and all the priests and deacons who have come here from other parts of the country and especially from my native diocese of Dublin. My new home diocese, of course, is Elphin, and I very much appreciate the welcome I have received here. I welcome the priests, the deacons and the religious of the diocese who are here today, together with representatives of all the parishes. I look forward to working closely with you in the years ahead. I am very grateful to clergy and faithful of the other Christian traditions who are here with us. It is my hope that just as we pray together today, we may find more and more ways of being partners in mission and bearing common witness to Jesus Christ, in a world which really needs the good news of the Gospel.

I want to tell you a story and – as Father Joe Jennings would say – it’s a true story. A few weeks ago, I was on my retreat in North Wales and, on the Monday afternoon I went for a walk in the countryside. As I walked, I prayed the Rosary and, being Monday, it was the joyful mysteries. The first mystery, the Annunciation; the second mystery the Visitation. For some reason I seemed to connect with those mysteries more than usual. Then it dawned on me why. On 29 April, I had had my own experience of the Annunciation when I went to meet the Papal Nuncio. A few days later, I shared Elizabeth’s experience of the Visitation when, just as Mary crossed the hill country of Judaea, Bishop Christy very kindly crossed the Curlews and came to meet me in Dublin. I’m not going to spell it out for you, but I can honestly say that the joyful mysteries came alive for me in these past few weeks.

I tell you that story, because I believe that, in the daily experience of our lives, God is never far from us. Like the sower in today’s Gospel, He is always at work to make our lives more fruitful, by inviting us to share his own life. We don’t always notice his presence, and we are not always open to his action, because we are preoccupied with the cares of the moment, or because we are living life on the surface and we are not really tuned in to the significance of what is going on around us.

Today, however, we prepare the ground once again for another season of sowing. Today is not really about me. It is about what God wants to do among us and how He invites us to really open ourselves up to His Word. I am confident that, if we are attentive to His presence and to one another, the mysteries of light will come alive for us too. There will be growth and healing and new life in our diocese. It won’t happen simply because there is a new bishop. It will happen because you and I, together, allow the Spirit of Jesus to take possession of our lives.

There will, of course, be moments of sadness and struggle, when the only mysteries that seem to make sense to us are the sorrowful mysteries. We will, please God, be strengthened in those moments by the knowledge that Jesus has walked this road before us. If we are truly one body in Christ, however, we must also walk this road of suffering together. As you may have heard in the Apostolic Letter read for us by Monsignor Dolan, Pope Francis has very specifically asked me, as bishop, to give special care to those who are marginalised; to the poor, to those who are in prison and to those who are sick. This is an essential part of the mission of the Church, because it was an essential part of the ministry of Jesus. I would like if this care for those who are on the margins could be a hall-mark of our diocese into the future and I invite you to join me in making that a reality.

Ultimately, however, it is all about the Glorious mysteries. God’s plan for each of us here is that, through sharing in the Resurrection of Jesus, we should take our place with the saints in the kingdom of heaven. The Doran family motto, Spes Anchora Vitae ‘Hope is the Anchor of Life’ used to hang on the wall at home and, providentially, it is reflected in the motto of our diocese (Dominus Spes Mea) The Lord is My Hope. Hope is not just wishful thinking. For us who believe in Jesus, hope is rooted in the realistic expectation that God will keep His promises in the future just as He has in the past. Without that hope I would not be here today. Hope allows us to take risks for others, because we know that, in the faithful love of God, we stand on solid ground.

Quite a few people have asked me about my priorities for the future and about the challenges facing the diocese. When the disciples asked Jesus, “Master, where do you live”, he replied “Come and see” and we are told that “they spent that whole day with him” (Jn. 2). In much the same way, I think the first thing I need to do is to see where you “live”. Since coming to the diocese last week, I have visited three parishes and I hope to continue doing that over the next couple of months.

In the few weeks that I have been here in Elphin, I have been very impressed by what I have seen. The churches that I have visited are beautifully maintained, which suggests to me that people take pride in their parishes. More importantly, on the pastoral level, I have noticed that young people seem to be actively involved in the life of the Church. Elphin received a very positive report from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland. This is good news but, of course, we need to remain alert to the risks, which are, sadly, part of our social reality today. Other signs of growth in the diocese include the formation and ordination of permanent deacons and the diploma in adult faith formation.

Needless to say, there are many challenges which we will need to face together in the coming months and years. These include the absence of young adults from many of our rural communities because of the lack of suitable employment; the loneliness and isolation of elderly people as a result of the tendency to focus businesses and essential services in larger population centres. In advance of the next Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis has already engaged in a very extensive consultation of the lay faithful on the question of marriage and family life, and we too need to be attentive to this question, helping young people to commit to marriage as a Christian vocation and ensuring that they find support in our parish communities as they try to live their commitment.

People have quite rightly identified vocation as one of the key challenges facing the diocese and I want to share a few thoughts with you on that. In the first place vocation does not begin when people are teenagers or young adults. It begins when God calls us into life and when, through Baptism He invites us to be members of his family. It makes no sense to expect that people can be ready to commit to any Christian vocation, marriage, priesthood, religious life, or diaconate, if they have not first of all been helped to recognise God’s invitation in Baptism and to respond to it. This is what needs to happen in our families and our parish communities, just so that young people can grow to maturity as Christians, recognising their responsibilities within the community. Then, gradually and with the encouragement of those around them they can begin to discern how God wants them to live this gift of faith that they have been given.

In recent days, I have participated in a number of celebrations with priests who are marking the golden jubilee of their ordination to the priesthood, and two things have struck me.
(1) Priests themselves seem to be happy and fulfilled in their lives.
(2) Alongside that, people seem genuinely to value the ministry of the priest in their community.

Pope Francis himself has acknowledged that “lay people are, put simply, the vast majority of the people of God” (EV 102). Priesthood is what might be described as a minority vocation, at the service of the majority. But, for some reason, when the question of vocation to priesthood arises, there seems to be an assumption that the priest will come from someone else’s family or from some other community. Why do you think that is?

I was at the month’s mind Mass for Father John O’Rourke RIP, who died since I was appointed, and his parishioners are understandably anxious to know when their new priest will be appointed. There will, hopefully be a short term answer to that question but, taking the long-term or even the medium-term view, the reality is that the bishop can only send priests to parishes, if the parishes send candidates who can be prepared for ordination. I would hope that, in the very near future, we will – as a diocesan community – develop a new strategy for the promotion of vocations and of a vocational culture; a strategy to which we can all commit. For the moment, however, I want to offer you a challenge. We have 100,000 parishioners (give or take); we have six deaneries. Will you find one suitable candidate for priesthood in each deanery between now and Easter and invite him to contact me or one of the members of the vocations team. Together, then, we can accompany these men in a process of prayerful discernment, not just so that we can fill vacancies, but so that God’s will can be done and so that his kingdom may come.

As you probably know, I come from Dun Laoghaire in Dublin and I have lived most of my life within a mile or two of the sea, with the mountains at my back. Ben Bulben, like most mountains has different moods and this was well expressed in the recently released movie Calvary, which I went to see the day after I met with the Apostolic Nuncio. Calvary, of course, is the place where the good thief made his confession and was reconciled. There, the Son of God stretched out His arms between Heaven and earth and took to Himself the sins and the suffering of all humanity, so that we could live forever in the love of God. Ben Bulben, in all its majesty, can be for us a reminder of a God who is truly with us, and not against us.

I feel very much at home in a diocese which has the Atlantic Ocean as one boundary and the river Shannon as the other, and which is dotted all over by lakes. You will see this reflected in the coat of arms, prepared for me by Dr Renato Poletti, who is here with us today. Throughout my ministry, water has always spoken to me, not just of Baptism, but of the ministry of Jesus around the shores of the Sea of Galilee. This awareness was particularly strong for me during my years in Glendalough. Today, I believe that Jesus is asking us, once again, to “launch out into the deep” and to “cross over to the other side” in a spirit of mission and evangelisation. May He bless our efforts with fruitfulness just as He blessed the efforts of those first disciples.

Coat of Arms and Episcopal Motto of the Most Reverend Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin

There is a long established tradition that a bishop has a coat of arms. It is not strictly necessary and some may wonder what purpose it serves. With its rich symbolism, a coat of arms can serve as a kind of contract with the people of the diocese and as a reminder to the bishop himself of what his mission is about. In the heraldic tradition of the Catholic Church, the Coat of Arms of a bishop is normally composed of:
– a shield with its charges (symbols) drawn from family, geographic, religious and historical significance and/or related to the name of the Bishop;
– a golden processional cross, with one traversal bar, to represent the rank of the Bishop, “impaled” (vertically) behind the shield;
– a green hat (galero) with 12 (six on each side) attached tassels, ordained 1; 2; 3; from the top;
– a scroll with the motto, written in black, below.
In this case a samnitic shape shield, frequently used in the heraldry of the Catholic Church, has been chosen, along with a celtic processional cross with five red stones to represent the Five Wounds of Christ, reminding Bishop Kevin that he will be called upon to imitate Christ the Good Shepherd, in “laying down his life” for the flock.
Blazonry (heraldic description) “Party per pale. Dexter: gules, two croziers in saltire or, surmounting a lamb couchant argent in base. Sinister: of the last, an anchor vert, sustaining a blackbird sable, beaked or, holding in his beak a copper pot proper, four wavy barrulets azure in base”

For his episcopal motto Bishop Kevin has chosen the ‘Unum Corpus In Christo’, words taken from the letter to the Romans. While it reflects the theme of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland in 2012, it is primarily a reference to the ministry of the bishop to be the “servant of communion” and the vocation of the diocese to be One Body in Christ.

Interpretation: In the right side of the shield (seen from the point of view of the one holding the shield) we find represented the Coat of Arms of the Diocese of Elphin; two golden crossed croziers surmounting a lamb as the central symbol reflecting Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The imagery of sheep and shepherds is well understood throughout the diocese, as it was in the Judean and Galilean countryside of Jesus time. The red (gules) colour is the colour of love, of blood; the infinite love of the Father who sent the Son to shed His blood for us, the ultimate act of love.

The personal arms of Bishop Kevin occupy the left side. This part of the shield is in silver (argent), the colour of transparency, truth and justice, which are fundamental to the Bishop’s pastoral ministry. The anchor, symbol of hope, is taken from the Doran family motto, Spes Ancora Vitae
(Hope is the Anchor of Life). It is important to distinguish between hope and mere optimism or wishful thinking. Hope is rooted in a realistic expectation of promises that will be fulfilled. As Christians, our hope is rooted in God who is always faithful to his promises. The anchor is in green (vert), the symbolic colour of hope.

The blackbird references the legend of Saint Kevin and the Blackbird, which is so well captured in the poem by Seamus Heaney. It reminds Bishop Kevin of the importance of fidelity to prayer and the relationship between prayer, compassion and service. The blackbird carries in his beak a copper pot, symbol of Saintt Asicus, patron saint of the diocese of Elphin. Saint Asicus was a coppersmith.

Father Kevin spent some years as parish priest of Glendalough, Co Wicklow (The Valley of the Two Lakes) in the Archdiocese of Dublin. As he ministered to parishioners and pilgrims around the lakeshore, he was often reminded of the ministry of Jesus, much of which took place around the lake (or sea) of Galilee. It was a ministry of “launching out into the deep”, inviting people to discipleship and “crossing over to the other side”. As he undertakes his new mission in the Diocese of Elphin, (a diocese with no shortage of lakes, bounded on one end by the River Shannon and on the other by the Atlantic Ocean), he takes the ministry of Jesus as his model and inspiration. This is the symbolism of the wavelets in the lower part of the shield.

Background to the life and ministry of Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin
Kevin P Doran was born on 26 June 1953 to parents Joseph Doran and Marie Brady (both died in 2002). He has two siblings Colette and Patricia. Father Doran was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Dublin. Father Doran began his seminary formation from 1970 – 1974 in Holy Cross Seminary, Dublin, and from 1974 – 1977 in the Pontifical Irish College, Rome. Father Doran was ordained a Deacon on 6 May 1976 in the Pontifical Irish College by the late Bishop Dominic Conway (former Bishop of Elphin, 1971 – 1994) in Rome, and was ordained a priest on 6 July 1977 by Bishop Patrick Dunne, in Our Lady of Victories Church, Sallynoggin, Dublin.

Academic record: Father Doran’s attended University College Dublin, from 1971- 1974 was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and French. He attended Pontifical Gregorian University 1974 – 1977, STB Theology, University College, Dublin, 1985 – 1987, MA, Philosophy, Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (Rome) 1991-1995, PhD, Philosophy.

Professional qualifications: University College Dublin, 1978 – 1979, Higher Diploma in Education. Father Doran speaks Italian and French fluently. He has good reading standard and comprehension in the Irish language, but would be less fluent in conversation.
Positions held (current) 2008, Diocesan Director for the Permanent Diaconate. 2013, Administrator, Sacred Heart Parish, Donnybrook

Positions held (previous): 1977 – 1980, Catechist / Chaplain, Ringsend Technical Institute, Dublin City VEC , Diocesan Education Secretariat (Advisor VEC Schools) 1980 – 1990; Occasional Teacher of Midwifery Ethics, Coombe Womens’ Hospital, 1983 – 1990 Chaplain, University College Dublin, 1990 – 1995 Spiritual Director, Pontifical Irish College, Rome, Irish Episcopal Conference. 1995 – 1998 Curate, Our Lady of perpetual Succour, Foxrock (Dublin), 1995 – 2001 Lecturer (Philosophy & Catholic Social Teaching) Mater Dei Institute of Education, 1995 – 2003 Occasional Teacher of Midwifery Ethics, National Maternity Hospital, 1996 – 2011 Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Bioethics, (Secretary) Irish Episcopal Conference, 1997 – 2012 Member, Ethics Committee Saint Vincent’s Psychiatric Hospital, 1998 – 2006 Diocesan Director of Vocations. 1998 – 2005 Parish Chaplain, Saint Anthony’s, Clontarf, 2000 – 2006 National Co-ordinator for Diocesan Vocations , Irish Episcopal Conference, 2001 – 2007 Lecturer (Philosophy, & Catholic Social Teaching) Milltown Institute of Theology & Philosophy. 2001 – 2013 Member, Board of Governors Mater Misericordiae & Childrens’ University Hospital, 2001- 2013 Member, Board of Directors Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, 2003 – 2006Coordinator, European Vocations Service (EVS) Elected (approved CCEE) 2005 – 2013 Consultor, Congregation for Catholic Education, 2005 – 2009 Parish Priest (Saint Kevin’s, Glendalough), 2009 – 2012 Parish Chaplain (Saint Vincent de Paul, Marino), 2008 – 2012 Secretary General, 50th International Eucharistic Congress in 2012.

a. Books
(1996) Solidarity: A Synthesis of Personalism and Communalism in the thought of Karol Wojtyla / Pope John Paul II. New York, Peter Lang.
(1989). What is a Person? New York: Edwin Mellen Press.
(1988). More Joy in Heaven: The Sacrament of Reconciliation. Dublin: Veritas.
b. Articles and Pamphlets
(2012) ‘Communion Fosters Solidarity’ published in Intercom magazine, January 2012
(2012) ‘Saint Kevin’s Way: A One Day Camino to Glendalough’ in Treasures of Irish Christianity, (Ed. Salvador Ryan and Brendan Leahy), Dublin: Veritas, 2012
(2010) ‘At a Time Like This?’ in Intercom, March 2010
(2010) ‘When Eucharist Becomes Communion’ in Intercom, June 2010
(2004) ‘European Vocations Service’ in Seminarium
(2004) ‘Informed Consent and Medical Research’ in Studies
(2004) ‘The Eucharist and the Priesthood’ in The Sheaf
(2002) ‘Faith and Freedom in the thought of Karol Wojtyla’ in The Challenge of Truth: Reflections on Fides et Ratio Ratio (Ed. James McEvoy). Dublin: Veritas
(2001) ‘Solidarity in a Single Human Family: The Church and the Challenge of Racism,’ in Responding to Racism. Dublin: Irish Commission for Justice and Peace
(1992) ‘Aquinas and the New Europe,’ in New Blackfriars
(1992) ‘Rerum Novarum – or Just the Same Old Things Again’ in The Furrow
(1989) ‘Government, Necessity and the Acceptance of Responsibility,” in Studies
(1989) ‘Economic Development and Gospel Values’ in Doctrine and Life
(1989) ‘Person – A Key Concept for Ethics’ in Linacre Quarterly
(1988) ‘Family and Faith Community’ in Fusion or Fission?: Ireland’s Option for the Family, Brandsma Press
(1988) ‘Approach to National Recovery’ in The Furrow
(1987) The Wanted Child and In-Vitro Fertilisation Dublin: Veritas
(1985) Church and State – A Healthy Tension Dublin: Veritas

Media: A significant contributor of articles to the print media and an experienced participant in radio and television (national and international) under the headings of bioethics; vocations; the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Ireland in 2012.

Notes for Editors

· His Holiness Pope Francis appointed Father Kevin Doran as Bishop of Elphin on 14 May 2014.

· The Diocese of Elphin has 37 parishes and 90 churches. The diocese includes portions of counties Roscommon, Sligo, Westmeath, and Galway. The patrons of the diocese are Saint Asicus (27 April) and the Immaculate Conception (8 December). The Diocese of Elphin website is www.elphindiocese.ie and it is also available on www.facebook.com/elphindiocese and the diocesan Twitter account is @elphindiocese

· A briefing for media attending the Episcopal Ordination will take place at 4:30pm today in Gillooly Hall (opposite the Cathedral). On behalf of the Diocese of Elphin Ms Clare-Frances Cassells will be the designated photographer for the Ordination day and please note that photography and filming are not permitted during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. During the Episcopal Ordination Mass a reserved area for media cameras will be made available in the Cathedral. Requests by media for photographs can be made by telephoning 085 704 7080and by email [email protected]

For media contact
– Media Coordinator for the Diocese of Elphin, Fiona Foley on 00 353 (0) 86 826 8266
– Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth, Martin Long on 00353 (0) 86 172 7678