I am very pleased that Pope Francis has appointed Father Michael Router from the Diocese of Kilmore to be the next Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh.
Around this time last year, five years after the retirement of the late Bishop Gerard Clifford as Auxiliary Bishop, I asked Pope Francis to consider appointing a new Auxiliary Bishop to assist me. This morning I thank God for the appointment of Father Michael Router and I am very grateful to the Holy Father Pope Francis and to His Excellency Archbishop Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, for facilitating my request. Father Router’s appointment is particularly welcome given the Holy Father’s recent request that I would take on additional responsibility as Apostolic Administrator to the Diocese of Dromore.
I am thankful to Father Michael for generously accepting this new call from God to leadership responsibility in the Church. I am grateful to his parents and family and to Monsignor Liam Kelly and the Diocese of Kilmore for giving us such a talented and devoted pastor. Father Michael has already gained considerable experience in leading pastoral development and adult faith formation and I look forward to his assisting me by contributing to these pastoral issues as well as others within both the Archdiocese of Armagh and the Diocese of Dromore. These are challenging times for all of us in the Church in Ireland but I have no doubt that, if we are open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, there will be new life and hope in our parishes – may the Holy Spirit therefore guide and inspire Father Michael in his mission among us.
Over the past sixty years, the Auxiliary Bishops of Armagh have made a significant contribution to the life of the diocese – from Bishop William Conway who came to us as Auxiliary Bishop in 1958 from County Antrim and who went on to become Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh – to Bishop Clifford from Louth who gave more than twenty years devoted service to the people of the diocese. Today as we welcome another Cavan man (following Cardinal Seán Brady) to the Archdiocese, I have no doubt he will bring new gifts, ideas and motivation to our mission of spreading the joy of the Gospel in this time and place.
I am confident that Father Michael will receive a warm welcome from the people, priests and religious in both the Archdiocese of Armagh and the Diocese of Dromore. I remember after my own ordination as archbishop six years ago and feeling hugely supported by assurances of prayer and support all around me from the people of the Archdiocese and from my family and friends.
Please pray for Father Michael as he prepares for his episcopal ordination in the summer months. May God bless his mission and ministry and may he have the gifts of wisdom and courage in abundance.
• Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore.
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