I wish to congratulate Father Alphonsus Cullinan on his appointment today by Pope Francis as the new Bishop of Waterford & Lismore. On this special day I offer Father Alphonsus my prayerful good wishes as he prepares to take on his new, important and challenging ministry. This is a very happy day for him, his family and friends, and it is also a day of new beginnings for Father Alphonsus himself.
As a bishop, Father Alphonsus will be called to teach, to lead, to govern, and to shepherd his people. He brings to his new role a wealth of experience as a teacher, a parish priest, and of chaplaincy in both hospital and further education settings. His pastoral insights will be of immense value not only in his leadership role among the people, priests and religious of Waterford and Lismore, but also as a member of the Irish Bishops’ Conference. Pope Francis is encouraging all of us – as priests and bishops – to go out and minister to the margins. In September 2013, when I met the Holy Father with a group of other newly-ordained bishops, he told us: “Do not close yourselves in! Go down among your faithful, even into the margins of your dioceses and into all those ‘peripheries of existence’ where there is suffering, loneliness and human degradation”. As a priest who is already well used to being out among his people, Father Alphonsus will have so much to offer as a Bishop.
I look forward to meeting with Father Alphonsus soon and I trust that the people of Waterford & Lismore will welcome him to their diocese with love and prayerful support.
On this day I also wish to acknowledge and salute Bishop William Lee, Bishop Emeritus of Waterford & Lismore. I worked closely with Bishop Lee in Maynooth when he held the important post of Episcopal Secretary to the Irish Bishops’ Conference. He became, and has remained, a good and supportive friend to me. I find him to be a true gentleman and a kindly, totally committed and sincere priest and bishop. Before his doctor strongly advised him to retire, I know that he remained loyal and completely dedicated to his episcopal duties despite struggling with increasingly poor health. Bishop Lee will be relieved that a new Bishop has been appointed to lead the diocese. I wish him every blessing for a long and healthy retirement.
Finally, I wish to thank Monsignor Nicholas O’Mahony for taking stewardship of the Diocese of Waterford & Lismore in November 2013 when Bishop Lee retired due to ill-health. Monsignor O’Mahony took on the onerous task of Diocesan Administrator in addition to his existing duties as parish priest. He has served in this role with quiet commitment and has faithfully represented the diocese at the Bishops’ Conference during the period of the vacant see. The people and priests of the diocese, as well as the Church in Ireland are indebted to him.
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444