Statement of Archbishop Dermot Clifford on the appointment of Bishop Kieran O’Reilly as his successor

22 Nov 2014

I warmly welcome the Holy Father’s choice of Bishop Kieran O’Reilly to be my successor as Archbishop of Cashel & Emly.  I wish to thank His Excellency, the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, for being in the Cathedral of the Assumption today to announce the good news to representatives of the priests and people in the Archdiocese.

Over the years, I always prayed that I would be here and well enough to ordain my successor when I reached retirement age.  As it turns out, I now find that I  have already ordained him four years ago in Ennis!  I recall that I anointed him liberally with the Oil of Chrism, without realising that I was anointing him for two dioceses!  I have been privileged to be working with him over the past four years as a Bishop of the Munster Province and as a colleague and friend in the Bishops’ Conference.  We have worked together in a number of Commissions and he is now the Episcopal Secretary to the Conference.  That he is a scholar I learned from others, that he is a gentleman I have found out for myself.

The official term is that Bishop Kieran is being translated from Killaloe to Cashel & Emly.  I recall the award winning film of some years ago, “Lost in Translation”.  Bishop Kieran has been translated several times in his life. But he has certainly never been lost in translation. In fact, he has gained each time he was moved and, not only that, he has grown. He went from Ireland to Liberia as a missionary, then back to Rome for Scripture Studies. Next he was moved to Ibadan, Nigeria to teach in the seminary.  He returned to Rome to become Superior General of the Society of the African Missions and was re-elected after six years, a sign of his popularity among his fellow African Missionaries worldwide.  From there he came to Killaloe in 2010 as Bishop.  He has wide experience of the Church on the missions, in Rome and in Ireland.

As the new Archbishop, he will have no shortage of challenges in his new role.  The Apostolic Visitator who came here in 2011, Archbishop Thomas Collins, Toronto, observed in his Report that “while there were relatively few cases of child clerical abuse in Cashel and Emly and that they had all been properly handled, this work has required great effort leaving less energy for the work of evangelisation so essential in such a secular atmosphere.  It is therefore necessary to re-energise the traditional spirit of faith of the Christian community and to reactivate programmes of renewal…as soon as possible.”

I believe Bishop Kieran is the ideal man to work with priests and people in the work of evangelisation and spreading the Good News. Of course, the area of marriage and the family is of renewed importance especially in view of the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome and the next one in 2015.

I look forward very much to his presence in Thurles when he is installed in the New Year.  I will not be too far from him.  My motto will be, “Ever ready, never in the way” (Cardinal Newman). Easier said than done, those who know me will say! I have no doubt whatsoever that the priests and people of Cashel & Emly will give him a hearty welcome and willing cooperation in his years as their Archbishop.


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