Statement by Father Alphonsus Cullinan on his appointment as Bishop of Waterford & Lismore

02 Feb 2015

Your Excellency Archbishop Charles Brown, Apostolic Nuncio, your Grace Bishop William Lee,  Monsignor Nicholas O’Mahony, Diocesan Administrator, brother priests, members of the many religious congregations here and you good people of Waterford & Lismore.

I greet you all. Dia ’is Muire Dhibh go leir.  I am honoured and humbled and excited to have been nominated as bishop of this Diocese.

I thank Bishop Willie Lee for his most gracious and warm welcome.  I congratulate him on his shepherding of this diocese for twenty years and I look forward to his friendship and advice in the years to come.  I thank Monsignor Nicholas O’Mahony who has looked after the diocese so well since October 2013.  I thank Archbishop Charles Brown for his help, his advice in the last week or so since he told me that Pope Francis had appointed me.  I wish to thank Pope Francis also and I am looking forward to meeting him in person in September.

This is an historic city and Waterford and Lismore is an historic Diocese with a Christian heritage going back to the earliest days of Christianity on this island and I am very proud to be called to do something to continue that wonderful tradition.

Up to last week I had under my care the 4,000 or so souls in my parish.  Now I am moving to the other side of Munster and am called to be the shepherd of over 150,000 souls! I don’t have any illusions about the difficulties of the job which I have been given and I know my own unworthiness and limitations.  In that sense I have a mountain to climb but mountains are made for climbing!  And I am not the only one with a mountain to climb.  There are so many people with troubles of their own – illness, loss, worry about children, about making ends meet, depression, loneliness, lack of meaning in life, being marginalized, – the list of human suffering and pain is long.

The Lord Jesus has come, not to add a further complication to life, but to set us free – to bring us his grace, help, wisdom and his peace and joy.  He knows us and what it is to live a human life.  He himself worked as a carpenter, working with his hands in the carpenter’s workshop.  He is human like us.  This is what we celebrated just a few weeks ago at Christmas.  He was born of Mary in a simple stable.

– “the Word was made flesh and lived among us”

And he is still among us and cares for us and loves us and is here now to help as we journey along.  It is my honour and privilege to be part of his work, to follow his command to go out and preach the Good News.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that all who believe in him may not perish but have eternal life.”  It is also my honour and privilege to be chosen to be his and your bishop here in what will be my new home.

I have been much encouraged by the words and example of that wonderful young man Donal Walsh from Blennerville, Tralee, who died of cancer last year.  If he were here he’d probably say; “ Look, keep climbing the mountain because it’s God’s mountain –and God is asking you to keep climbing”.  On my own I won’t get very far, but together, people and religious and with my brother priests and Bishop Willie, we will do great things for God

I entrust my future work here in Waterford and Lismore to Mary, the dear Mother of the Lord, to Saint Joseph the patron of the universal Church and to Saints Otteran, Declan and Carthage the patrons of this diocese.

I look forward to meeting you all. I will try my best to be a good shepherd and I wish you all joy and peace.

Thank you.

 For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444