Twelve years ago today, 27 January 2008, Bishop Brendan Kelly was ordained in this Cathedral as Bishop of Achonry. During the ordination ceremony that day, the text of a prayer from our Irish tradition was sung in a musical setting specially composed for the occasion by Ronan McDonagh from Kiltimagh. This traditional prayer was said by generations in the past for the visit of the priest or the bishop, and the text reads:
Is céim go brách linn, is abháir sócháis agus réim ghairdis dár sláinte gur tháinig teachtaire Chríost in ár ndháil.
It is a great honour for us and a reason for rejoicing and a cause of joy for our salvation that Christ’s messenger has come into our assembly.
On 27 January 2020, the words of that prayer seem particularly appropriate as we welcome the announcement of a new bishop for Achonry. Today, Father Paul Dempsey comes into our assembly as Christ’s messenger, having accepted his appointment by Pope Francis as pastor of the people and priests of Achonry. We warmly welcome his appointment and, on behalf of the priests, religious and people of the diocese, I thank him for accepting it. It is a reason for rejoicing for us in Achonry that a priest of Father Paul’s calibre and extensive experience in pastoral ministry in his native diocese of Kildare and Leighlin comes to us as our new bishop. We assure him of our prayers as he prepares for his new role and we ask God to bless him with joy, contentment and peace in his ministry among us.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Okolo, for travelling to our Cathedral in Ballagahderreen today to preside at this Mass for Catholic Schools Week and to announce the appointment of our new bishop. We are greatly honoured by your presence, Your Excellency, and most appreciative of the part you have played over the past two years in the process of appointing our bishop. We look forward to welcoming you to Ballaghaderreen again in the very near future for Bishop-elect Paul’s ordination on Sunday 19 April.
I also warmly greet Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin who has travelled to support Father Paul today. I strongly suspect that our gain in Achonry in having Father Paul as our new bishop is a great loss for the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and we are grateful that you generously give him to us.
We have had a wonderful celebration here this morning and I am very conscious that such a celebration doesn’t happen without much work by many people. To all who helped prepare today’s liturgy and to all who participated in any way, our sincere thanks.
Finally, a big thank you to our young people here today for attending this Mass with your teachers and other staff members from your schools. We older people look to you in hope, for you are the future of the Church in our parishes. With the good grounding you get in our Catholic schools and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit whom many of you will receive in the sacrament of Confirmation this year, we hope that you will bring your natural enthusiasm and energy to your parish communities in the years ahead.
- Father Dermot Meehan is Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Achonry.
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