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Homily of Bishop Michael Duignan at his Installation as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora

  • Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven & Saint Nicholas, Galway

Homily

On the cover of your booklets, you will see that we have gathered here this afternoon for my “Installation” as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora.  Some weeks ago, when I used the word “Installation” in conversation with my mother she simply replied: “could they not have got a better word for it? Installing something … that sounds like getting a new washing machine or a fridge freezer.”  While the word Installation is rightly used to describe the technical and canonical aspects of today’s ceremony another less common but perhaps a more personal description is simply the “Reception of the New Bishop” or even the “Welcome of the New Bishop”. 

A “Threshold Moment”

It is customary that this ceremony of reception or welcome takes place in the

Cathedral Church – which takes its name from the Latin word “Cathedra” or “Chair” – that place where the bishop sits, the mother Church of a diocese.  What a striking and majestic Cathedral we have here on the banks of the Corrib in the heart of the City.  It has surely lived up to Bishop Browne’s dream that it would be “solid, dignified and worthy of Galway”.  It stands as a testimony to the faith of the people of this locality and a visible daily reminder to raise our minds and hearts towards God.

I am conscious of the passing of the years since it was built and the fact that I am the first Bishop of Galway to be born after it was consecrated in 1965.  Today’s reception and welcome began at the great west door.  As I crossed over its threshold, I could not but think that this is in a very real sense a “threshold moment” – a graced moment of transition from the past to the present to the future.

A Truly Historic Development

I am both honoured and humbled to be formally received and welcomed in this way by the priests and people of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.  Established by Pope Gregory XVI in 1821, Galway is the youngest diocese in Ireland.  The first bishop was George Joseph Plunkett Browne.  Coincidently, before his appointment, he was the Parish Priest of my home parish in Athlone and like me was a priest of the Diocese of Elphin.  In 1883, Pope Leo XIII joined the Diocese of Galway with the Diocese of Kilmacduagh and appointed the Bishop of Galway Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora in perpetuum.  I am conscious that today marks yet another historic milestone for the people of faith in these parts.  For, as we have heard in his letter to us, Pope Francis has appointed, for the first time, one Bishop to serve the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and the venerable and ancient Diocese of Clonfert.  This is a historic development, not just for the Church communities in the parts of the counties of Galway, Clare, Mayo, Roscommon and Offaly that comprise the two dioceses, but also for the Catholic Church on the island of Ireland as a whole.

A New Journey Has Begun

Not only have we entered this “threshold moment”, but with the reading of Pope Francis’s Letter and the seating on the chair, we have already crossed over and our new journey together has begun.  We set out against the backdrop of the First day of May – my favourite month of the year – when all of nature so vividly comes to life after its annual winter sleep. 

As a Christian people, we also set out on this journey together in the full light of Easter and with the hopeful message of new life and infinite possibilities echoing in our hearts.  Our first port of call has been to sit and listen to God speak to us through the scripture readings of this Mass for the Third Sunday of Easter.

Back to Galilee

The Gospel, we have just heard, takes us out of the highly charged atmosphere of Jerusalem and back to the relative tranquillity of Galilee.  For Jesus and His first disciples – Galilee was home.  It was the place where they had first met Him.  Where, He and His message had captivated them.  After the Resurrection, Galilee was to become a place of new insight.  There, they were to come to the realisation that the ordinariness of their humble lives had intermingled in an extraordinary way with the life of God Himself.  Peter announces “I’m going fishing” and the others follow (Jn 21).  They spend all night out without catching even a single fish for their trouble.  As morning breaks, a man on the shore calls out.  He advises them to cast out once more but this time in a different direction.  In no time, the nets are full to breaking point.  John cries out: “It is the Lord!”  Peter, overcome with excitement, jumps into the water and swims ashore.  As the others pull in and unload the catch, Jesus invites them to “Come and have breakfast.”  With a flash back to Holy Thursday and a flash forward to our celebration of the Eucharist; He takes the bread and He takes the fish and shares it with them.

A Faith Rekindled

Such events mark a truly “threshold moment” in the lives of those early disciples.  Not only do they rekindle their shattered faith but they also bring increasing clarity to the belief that in Jesus God Himself in all his glory was lovingly present to humanity.  However, this is not all; those events of that first Easter ushered in a new sense among the early Christians that this transformed resurrected Jesus was now really present to anyone who might turn to Him in their hearts.  This is not some farfetched idea from centuries past.  Down through the ages countless numbers of Christians have sensed in their experiences, in their prayer, in the sacraments and at Mass that same Jesus alive and present to them.  Deep in the recesses of their hearts, they have listened to His voice and received wisdom that has, in many instances, turned their lives around and helped them to achieve far more than they ever could on their own.  Such friendship with Jesus enlightens us when it comes to the deep down questions of life: Why do we exist?  How should we live life well?  Where do we go when we die?

Such friendship with Jesus has inspired generous hearts to work for the betterment of the least well off among us and to endeavour to transform ourselves, our families, our communities and our world for the better.

A New Energy and a New Focus.

In the First Reading from Acts – we see Peter and the Apostles brought before the menacing Jewish authorities of their day.  Their recent encounters with the risen Jesus seem to have totally transformed them from the confused, cowering, faltering, fearful men they were.  They have a new energy, a new focus. It seems impossible to dampen the hope that had been enkindled in their hearts.  Impossible to silence the Good News they had to tell or to lock up their faith in Jesus Christ.

In a Different Direction?

By contrast nowadays, at times, you might be inclined to think that faith in God, or friendship with Jesus or the living out of Christian Wisdom is something that will soon be a thing of the past.  For a variety of reasons, many no longer believe the message.  Many of our parishes are struggling, on so many levels, to support a vibrant faith community.  Despite the great work done by generations of priests, religious and lay people now, at times, it feels like we have been out all night without a single catch.  We can no longer ignore the fact that much of what the Church has built up in Ireland over the last two centuries is crumbling before our eyes.

The more and more I see, the more and more I am convinced that much of our infrastructure, our systems, our pastoral practices that were beneficial in the past, now hinder rather than help the life of faith.  Here too we stand at a “threshold moment”.  Inevitably, there will be a sense of genuine mourning in letting go but these Easter days tell us that out of such death comes new hope and new life.  Perhaps the Lord is asking us to throw out our nets in a different direction.  In the direction of a new and profound re-evangelisation of ourselves.  As individuals and as a community, perhaps we now need to focus on rediscovering that living presence of the risen Christ among us.  We need to experience again the joy and excitement that His message gives.  We need to rekindle our confidence in its ability to transform our oft broken lives and transfigure our suffering world for the better.  We need to sense anew that, this joy, like all joy, is a joy that calls out to be boldly talked about and respectfully shared with our fellow travellers on life’s journey.

A Renewed Faith Community

It is clear that in the future, we will be a smaller faith community, but with the help of God we will be a more faith-filled, vibrant, welcoming, grounded community.  A faith community that is aware of our individual human weakness while, at the same time, ever striving to overcome such weakness with the merciful healing help of God.  A faith community that lives the message of Jesus in a way that better speaks in equal measure to the lives of our fellow women and men.  A faith community that builds bridges not barriers and that reaches out in compassion to aid those who find themselves in need.  A faith community that is less afraid of those who see life differently from us.  A faith community that finds its appropriate place within Irish society and an Irish society that finds a fair place for people of faith.  A faith community, that is filled with the sound of young voices and that is inspired by their idealism and urged on by their energy.  A faith community, where people, priests and bishop walk side by side in a truly synodal manner as companions on the great adventure that is the Christian way of life.

A Future of New Possibilities and New Opportunities

I thank you, the priests and people of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora for your generous welcome.  I thank you for receiving me and accepting me as a travelling companion on the journey of life.  I pray, and I ask you to pray that I, though flawed in so many ways, may with God’s help do some good among you.  Pray also that we will renew our confidence in the presence of the risen Jesus with us on the way.  Pray that we will discuss, dialogue and discern together what he is calling us to do in our today.  Pray that we will commit ourselves to action and work towards a future of new possibilities and new opportunities. 

As the month of May begins and we bask in the warming hope filled light of these Easter days, let us not forget as Saint Paul reminds us to “give glory to God who working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20).

Saint Nicholas, Saint Colman, Saint Fachanan, Saint Brendan, Our Lady Consoler of the Afflicted, Pray for us.  Amen.

ENDS

·         Background for media on the Installation of Bishop Michael Duignan as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora:

Date and Time: The Third Sunday of Easter, 1 May 2022 at 3.00pm

Venue:  Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas, Galway, H91A780

Media 

At 2.00pm today, Mr Martin Long of the Catholic Communications Office, will be available to brief attending journalists at the dedicated Cathedral Media Centre in the Sacristy area, ground floor, Galway Cathedral. Information including the Mass booklet, the homily preached by Bishop Duignan and related information on the diocese will be available there.  Refreshments and internet access will be available.

Photography 

The official photographer is Mr Sean Feeney who can be contacted on +353 (0) 86 0440595 or by email on [email protected]com.  Photographs will be made available to the media by contacting Sean directly.

Live Streaming

The Mass will be livestreamed on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tw01lTOvVl4

Mass for the Third Sunday of Easter and Installation

Since Bishop Michael Duignan is already a bishop, he will be installed rather than ordained.  This installation liturgy will take place during Mass for the Third Sunday of Easter.  The principal celebrant and homilist will be Bishop Duignan.  His Excellency, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Papal Nuncio to Ireland, and Bishop Brendan Kelly, will be the principal concelebrants.

Bishop Martin Drennan, bishop emeritus of Galway and Bishop John Kirby, bishop emeritus of Clonfert, will be in attendance.  They will be joined by Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland: Archbishop Dermot Farrell, Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA; Archbishop Michael Crotty, Papal Nuncio to Burkina Faso and Niger; Bishops of the Western Province including Archbishop Emeritus Michael Neary and other Bishops along with Priests from the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and of the Diocese of Clonfert.  His Eminence Seán Cardinal Brady will also be in attendance.  Deacon Frank McGuinness and Deacon David Muldowney will minister as deacons during the liturgy.  The Master of Ceremonies is Father John Gerard Acton CC.

Every parish in the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and in the Diocese of Clonfert will have representatives present.  There will also be representatives from Catholic schools in both dioceses and from various new movements, diocesan bodies and organisations.

Representatives of the Church of Ireland, Methodist and Presbyterian communities will be present.  The Galway Islamic community will be represented along with representatives from other faith traditions.  

The Liturgy

Music will be provided by Galway Cathedral Choir under the Direction of Cathedral Organist and Musical Director, Mr Ray O’Donnell.  They will be joined by members of the Loughrea Cathedral Choir under the Direction of Ms Elizabeth Keane.  Uilleann Pipes will be played by Mr Michael Vignoles.  Mr Paul Keogh (Elation Ministries) will lead the congregation in a post communion reflection.

At the beginning of the Liturgy, Bishop Michael will be greeted at the west door of the Cathedral by Monsignor Peter Rabbitte, Parish Priest of the Cathedral; Dean Michael McLoughlin and the Diocesan Chapter and Ms Norita Forde along with representatives from the Diocesan Deaneries.  Bishop Brendan Kelly will deliver the Words of Welcome.

The Apostolic Letter of Appointment from Pope Francis will be presented by Dean Michael Mc Loughlin and read by the Diocesan Chancellor Canon Ian O’Neill.  As an expression of apostolic succession from one bishop to another, Bishop Brendan Kelly will invite Bishop Duignan to take his place at the chair.  After which he will entrust Bishop Duignan with the book of the Gospels with the assistance of Deacon Frank McGuinness.

Ms Louise Rooney a member of the Diocesan Synodal Pathway Committee will present the Crozier as a sign of the bishop’s role as shepherd walking, dialoguing, and discerning the voice of the Lord along with the priests and people of the Diocese.  The Crozier will then be entrusted to Bishop Duignan by Bishop Kelly.  The Crozier presented is the same crozier used at Bishop Michael’s Confirmation in 1982, at his Ordination as a Priest in 1994 and at his Episcopal Ordination in 2019.

After the presentation of the Crozier, Bishop Michael will be greeted by bishops present, representatives of priests of the Diocese of Galway, representatives of people from each of the deaneries of the Diocese, religious women and men, representatives from other Christian Churches and other faith traditions along with members of the recently arrived Ukrainian Community and other members of the congregation.

For Catholics, May is a special month of devotion to Our Lady.  After Holy Communion, Bishop Michael will spend some time in prayer before the Image of Our Lady Comforter of the Afflicted which has been brought from the Cathedral of Saint Brendan in Loughrea.  The original of this image hangs in the Cathedral of the Diocese of Győr in Hungary.  It was brought there during penal times by Walter Lynch who was a Priest of Galway Diocese and later Bishop of Clonfert. On Saint Patrick’s Day in 1697, it is said to have shed tears of blood.  At this time all present are invited to place the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh, and Kilfenora and the Diocese of Clonfert under Our Lady’s care.

Appointment by the Holy Father Pope Francis

On 11 February 2022, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed Bishop Michael Duignan, Bishop of Clonfert, to minister simultaneously as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora.  The two Dioceses concerned (Galway and Clonfert), united in persona episcopi, pastorally administered by the one Bishop, will retain their respective rights, obligations and juridical autonomy.  This is a first for the Catholic Church in Ireland.

The Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora includes portions of counties Galway, Mayo and Clare.

The Diocese of Clonfert includes portions of counties Galway, Offaly and Roscommon.

Two Dioceses – One Bishop: The Latin term in persona episcopi literally means “in the person of the bishop” and is used by the Catholic Church to designate the union of two or more dioceses, under one bishop.  In fact, the determining factor in this case is that both dioceses are pastorally governed by a sole bishop.  The diocesan structures and institutions (cathedral churches, cathedral chapters, curial offices and officials, college of consultors, presbyteral council, diocesan pastoral councils, etc), diocesan goods (lands, bank accounts, cultural properties, etc) and juridical competences in Canon Law and Civil Law (trusteeship, charities, etc) of each of the respective dioceses are left unaltered.

In other words, the only change is that, instead of each diocese having its own respective bishop, one sole bishop exercises the pastoral governance of both dioceses equally, according to the spiritual and pastoral needs of the one and the other. 

Each diocese maintains its identity and handles its own cultural heritage as it deems fit.  Each keeps its own personnel or can share with other dioceses; priests will not normally be asked to minister beyond their own diocese unless by a special request or mandate.  Each diocese will handle its financial administration independently and will make its own pastoral decisions as usual.  Of course, the mutual cooperation between both dioceses, as has been hitherto the case, is not excluded.  In fact, constant consultation, support and sharing of expertise ought to be encouraged.  From the experience of other dioceses where this has been experimented, there is evidence that many factors enhance the future survival of the Dioceses, which unite and cooperate in persona episcopi.

This form of union under one bishop is not an amalgamation and does not suppress either of the two dioceses.  It respects the autonomy and allows for the functionality of the individual jurisdictions.  It is a mild and practical form of union between dioceses and can be a temporary or permanent provision. 

Bishop Michael Duignan – a brief biography

A native of Athlone, Co Roscommon, Bishop Michael was born on 15 July 1970.  He is the eldest of six children and attended Cloonakilla National School, Bealnamulla and Saint Aloysius College, Athlone.  He studied for the Priesthood at Saint Patrick’s Missionary Society in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, and at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.  He was ordained to the Priesthood for the Diocese of Elphin on 17 July 1994.  Returning to Rome to complete postgraduate studies, he then served at the Cathedral Parish, Sligo and as Chaplain to the Institute of Technology, Sligo.  Subsequently, he completed Doctoral Studies in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.  He returned to Ireland in 2001 to take up the position of Curate in the Parish of Ahamlish and Innismurray in north Sligo and was appointed Diocesan Secretary before taking up the position of Lecturer in Religious Education and Theology at Saint Angela’s College, Sligo, and later as Head of Religious Education and Chaplaincy Programmes.

In 2014, he was appointed Chancellor of the Diocese of Elphin and Episcopal Vicar for Education and Formation.  Bishop Michael was also National Director of the Permanent Diaconate and National Coordinator of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate.  He has been involved over the years in numerous adult faith formation programmes, training programmes for ministry, formation of catechists, youth ministry programmes and formation of school chaplains and teachers of religious education.  He sat on the Theological Commission for the cause for canonisation of the Servant of God Edward Flanagan and was Chair of the organising committee for the visit of Pope Francis to Knock Shrine in 2018.  He served for many years as Chairperson of the Board of Management of the College of the Immaculate Conception, Summerhill, Sligo.

On the 16 July 2019, Bishop Michael was named by Pope Francis as Bishop of Clonfert succeeding Bishop John Kirby.  He was ordained at Saint Brendan’s Cathedral in Loughrea on 13 October 2019 and took as his episcopal motto “Respicite ad eum et illuminamini” (Psalm 34) “Look towards Him and be radiant”.  As a part the Irish Episcopal Conference, he is a member of the Commission for Pastoral Care; Chair of the Council for Immigrants; Member of the Council for Pastoral Renewal and Adult Faith Development; Member of the Council for Finance and General Purposes and member of the National Training Authority for the Permanent Diaconate in Ireland. 

For media contact the Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth, Martin Long on +353 (0) 86 1727678 and Oisín Walsh on +353 (0) 86 1679504

 

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