Archbishop Duffy: this is a great time to be a Catholic priest in Ireland…if God calls, He will support you

10 Jul 2024

Archbishop Francis Duffy is Archbishop of Tuam and Apostolic Administrator of Killala

  • Homily of Archbishop Francis Duffy during the ordination Mass for the Reverend Mark Quinn as a priest of the Archdiocese of Tuam

Every student for priesthood, and every priest, has his own story of the path he has followed in discerning and answering God’s call.  That story of discernment leads us to recognise and believe that at the core of priesthood is Jesus Christ.  The priest is called, in the first place to be with the Lord, to love him, listen to him, and to learn from him.  Jesus Christ is at the centre of priesthood, not the priest, not the bishop, not the pope, but Jesus Christ.  It is His call to which we respond, it is His message we preach and it is He whom we serve.  As we will hear, the Instruction for Ordination to the Presbyterate urges you, Mark, to: “attend to the affairs of Christ before your own.”   For all of us who are ordained as His ministers, that is the key: to put Christ at the centre, put Christ and the care of His people, first.
Answering God’s call lies outside the experience of many people.  For some God is an invention, for some an irrelevancy and for others an anachronism in this day and age.  For those who have faith, God is the centre.  Answering God’s call, attending to His reassuring and hope-filled message, no matter what path we take in life, married, single, no matter what position, God’s individual call is a precious gift.  It is something very natural for a believer, challenging and attractive, ‘yes’, risky and rewarding, ‘yes’ but fully within what it is to be a Christian and fully within what it is to be human.
Jesus continues to call to priesthood.  Sometimes this is difficult to hear, and may need to be relayed by others, maybe by you.  God continues to call people, maybe here in this church, in our parishes, in our schools and third level colleges, in our football clubs and in our factories, on our farms and in our offices, among the employed and the unemployed, among those at home and those who have emigrated and among the many people who have happily made Ireland their new home.  Do not be afraid to answer God’s call, do not be afraid to explore the possibility and the opportunity; be assured, if God calls, He will guide and He will support.  God will provide everything you need in order to attend to the responsibilities He calls you to discharge.
This is a great time to be a Catholic priest in Ireland.  Let me repeat that: this is a great time to be a Catholic priest in Ireland.  Every era presents its opportunities.  Today a new priest will be ordained to follow in the footsteps of the Lord and His disciples, footsteps made first in Castlebar, then in many other places, and now in this Church footsteps that have brought Mark before this altar to say ‘Yes’ to God.  We pray for you, Mark, today.  We thank you for your generosity and commend you for your courage.  We also pray that many more will be inspired by you, to answer the call of the Lord to priesthood and the religious life. 
Today’s Gospel has a familiar and slightly unsettling, if realistic theme, “This is the carpenter surely, the son of Mary … where did he get all this?”   There is a reluctance, an amazement, that a person can change and grow, can have hidden depths that develop.  God sees beyond the expected, beyond the familiar to the potential, to the new person.   Let us not be surprised, or shrug our shoulders, but let us give thanks and rejoice when so many people grow and develop and change, as we are all called to do.  And let us not be surprised at the great things God can and will do with us – if we accept His invitation and respond positively to His call, confident that He says to you, Mark, and to all of us, as He said to Saint. Paul in today’s second reading, “My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.”
In this diocese, as in every diocese, there is a priestly fraternity, not an inward-looking or nostalgic clerical group; instead, one that is supportive, encouraging, looking to the future and focused on Christ and His people.    There is also the supportive community of the people of God, your parishioners, your co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord, all those who in their own ways will help you be a better priest.  Mark, you will not be alone in your ministry.
The future will be different and will bring changes.  It is about using new ways, many already foreseen in the Second Vatican Council, to evangelise, which means to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to current and future generations.  Already this has begun in our diocese with parishes sharing the services of one priest along with parish pastoral councils.  Learning from each other and adapting to change and to the needs of the time.  It is beginning in our province with this Archdiocese of Tuam and the Diocese of Killala, each benefiting from the practices, initiatives and strengths of the other.  It has begun nationwide and worldwide with the synodal pathway.  Strange as the word, and some of the terms associated with synodality, may seem, it is rooted in what Jesus did on the road to Emmaus and in how the very early Church listened, reflected, broke bread, and took action.  It is a modern and radical echo of our deepest tradition.  We are at the very beginning of this renewed focus on the Holy Spirit’s activity in and through the people of God.  It is the way to go. 
So, change abounds, but there is one thing that does not change, that our forbearers of all generations would have immediately recognised, the love of God for each one of us.  That does not change, ever.  God’s love for each individual does not change, no matter what.

So, Mark, my brother priests, all people of faith, look to the future with hope, with great hope because that is what the Lord wants us to do, He is with us.  Today we rejoice, we give thanks and we celebrate the priestly ordination of a new presbyter for our diocese.  Thanks be to God.  Our Lady of Knock pray for us. 


  • Archbishop Francis Duffy is Archbishop of Tuam and Apostolic Administrator of Killala.  This homily was delivered on 7 July 2024 in the Church of the Holy Rosary, Castelbar, Co Mayo, Archdiocese of Tuam