News

Feb 3, 2013

Diocese of Limerick welcomes announcement of its new Bishop


Photos available in the photo gallery HERE

Thursday, 10 January 2013: The Diocese of Limerick has today welcomed its Bishop Elect Fr Brendan Leahy after his appointment by the Holy See. 

Fr Leahy, who will take up his appointment in the spring, was announced as the incoming Bishop of Limerick by Diocesan Administrator Fr Tony Mullins on the steps of St. John’s Cathedral at 11a.m. today to coincide with the announcement in Rome by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at midday (local time).  Also present for the announcement was Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency Charles Brown along with a number of priests of the Diocese.

Fr Leahy will succeed Bishop Donal Murray, who retired as Bishop in December 2009.  Fr Mullins has for the past three years served as Diocesan Administrator.

Addressing the gathering at St. John’s Cathedral, Fr Mullins said that Fr Leahy’s appointment “as our Bishop and Shepherd” comes at a time of great challenge in the Diocese but also one of great opportunity. “The Church, including our own Diocese, has been going through one of its most difficult periods but I believe Fr Leahy’s appointment comes at a real turning point. We have worked hard to build confidence amongst the faithful and Fr Leahy’s appointment will enhance the trust, renewal and sense of leadership in the Church, all of which is gravely needed in the times we live in today,” said Fr Mullins.

Addressing parishioners who flocked to St. John’s Cathedral after getting word at Masses across the city of the impending announcement, Fr Leahy said he was humbled by his appointment.

“Being appointed Bishop of Limerick is certainly not something I foresaw as part of my life’s journey, but I am very grateful to Pope Benedict for opening up for me a new stage in life among the people and places of the historical and renowned diocese of Limerick. I am pleased to be a successor to Bishop Donal Murray whom I very warmly greet. I look forward very much to getting to know the people of this diocese, especially young people,” he said.

“Confidence comes certainly not from me. I am only too conscious of the contrast between who I am and the task ahead of me. But I recognise that the Church is first and foremost based on a promise that does not deceive: Jesus’ promise: “remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28: 20).

“I want to express heartfelt thanks to His Excellency, Archbishop Charles Brown, who has accompanied me gently but convincingly in the past week since he informed me of Pope Benedict’s decision. I thank him for honouring us with his presence among us this morning.”

Fr Leahy, who also paid tribute to Fr Mullins for his invaluable contribution over the past three years and the warm welcome he has extended him, noted that despite the challenges ahead, the new beginning already underway in the diocese will lead to a Church Jesus Christ intended for us.

“That the Church is going through a period of great transition is not new news and yet it is good news……. Yes, we have been through a very dark moment but God is not absent.  We must do all we can to make sure that Church settings are always good places to be, where genuine mutual love is experienced.   In this regard I am pleased to recognise the observation by the recent Audit by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland that the diocese has robust measures in place in the area of child safeguarding and protection.

“The day a new bishop is announced in a diocese is an opportunity for the person concerned but perhaps also for the whole diocese to ‘begin again’ in faith, hope and love.  As long as my heart beats I have a chance to begin again to believe more, to hope more, to love more. It’s an invitation that comes to us all on this day – perhaps we can start again in our relationship with the Church and with one another as fellow sisters and brothers of the one People of God.

“An occasion such as this affords me the opportunity to offer a word of gratitude to our legislators for all their commitment to promoting the common good. Politics is a vocation and I am convinced most people enter politics with a vision and a desire to improve the world. I want to assure them of prayers at this delicate time for the protection of life, that they may be inspired to know how best to protect the lives of mothers and their unborn children.

“I thank all of you who are here present today. Being together is important. I greet and thank the many very committed lay men, women, young and old of this diocese, the exemplary men and women of religious congregations, orders and communities and especially the priests of this diocese whose fidelity and hard work I admire and with whom I look forward very much to working together. The communion in Christ of all of us together is what gives us strength.

“In particular I greet people who feel they are hanging on in the Church by their finger tips and all who are struggling with their faith. I invite you not to give up. This is a Year of Faith. It can be a new start for us all.”

Welcoming the appointment of Fr Leahy as his successor, Bishop Murray said: “I greatly welcome the Holy Father’s appointment of Father Breandán Leahy as Bishop of Limerick.   I am sure that he undertakes his new ministry with some trepidation, but he will bring many gifts and wide experience to the task he now undertakes.  He has a pastoral outlook; he has a fine theological mind; he has long been involved in third level Catholic education; he has been deeply involved in work for Christian unity.

“I am confident that he will receive the same warm welcome, the wholehearted cooperation and the friendship of the priests, religious and people of the diocese that I received on my arrival in the diocese and during the years that I was privileged to serve as bishop.”

Ends

Rev Brendan Leahy

Rev Brendan Leahy is professor of Theology at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and author of numerous publications.  A von Balthasar scholar, he is involved in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

Professor of Systematic Theology

Biography:
Priest of the Diocese of Dublin, ordained in 1986. Undergraduate studies in University College Dublin (1977-1980), Mater Dei Institute of Education, Dublin (1980-1981), Clonliffe College, Dublin (1980-1983) and the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome (1983-1986). Professional studies at King’s Inns, Dublin (1981-83). Graduate studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome (1983-1991). Curate in Clonskeagh parish (1991-1992), member of the staff of Holy Cross Seminary (1992-1999) and Mater Dei Institute of Education (1992-2006); member of college of consultors of Dublin diocese (1998-2004); parish chaplain in Lusk, Dublin (1999-2004); registrar of Mater Dei Institute (2004-2006); confessional lecturer at Irish School of Ecumenics (1999–present). Secretary of the Advisory Committee on Ecumenism of the Irish Bishops’ Conference (1999–2010); member of Inter-Church Meeting (1999- present) and of Three Faiths Forum of Ireland (1999–present); chairman of Dublin diocesan ecumenical committee in Dublin diocese (1999–present); member of ITA (2005- present); corresponding member of the Pontifical Theology Academy (2004- present); Co-chair of the Theology Forum of the Irish Inter-Church Meeting (2010-) (www.irishchurches.org); Visiting lecturer at the Sophia University Institute, Loppiano, Flornence (www.iu-sophia.org).

Research Interests:

  • Ecumenical Dialogue with particular reference to Ecclesiology.
  • Ecclesiology with particular reference to the Marian Principle in the Church
  • Christology

Current Research:

  • New Ecclesial Movements – Ecclesiological Perspectives
  • Theology of Priesthood in the light of Vatican II’s ecclesiology
  • The Marian Principle in the Church in the light of Bulgakov’s Sophiology
  • The Marian Principle and Inter-Religious Dialogue

 

Click to read the following statements on the appointment of Fr Brednan Leahy as Bishop of Limerick

Diocesan Administrator Very Rev Tony Mullins, welcomes Pope Benedict’s appointment of Fr Brendan Leahy as Bishop of Limerick

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Limerick

10th January 2013

Your Excellency, Archbishop Brown, Papal Nuncio, my brother priests, religious, people of the diocese. It is my great privilege and honour and as Diocesan Administrator to welcome you to St John’s Cathedral this morning and to inform you that the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr Brendan Leahy to be the next Bishop of the Diocese of Limerick. The priests and people of the diocese have been waiting expectantly for this day. I have no doubt that this news of Fr Brendan Leahy’s appointment to the see of Limerick will be received with great joy throughout the diocese and I extend to him on behalf of the priests and people of the diocese a céad míle fáilte. Fr Brendan Leahy is a priest of the Archdiocese of Dublin whom we welcome among us today as one of our own.

Fr Brendan Leahy is currently Professor of Systematic Theology at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, a renowned Theologian and Ecumenist, with a wealth of pastoral experience including specific ministry to young people.

Fr Brendan Leahy’s appointment as our Bishop and Shepherd comes at a time of great challenge. But every challenge presents us with a new opportunity to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel. In the Gospel for the Mass of today we hear that Jesus:

“Stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.”

Today our eyes are fixed on Fr Brendan Leahy and we pray for him that the Spirit of the Lord will be given to him, so that he will fulfil his ministry of proclaiming the Good News to the people of this diocese.

In Limerick Fr Brendan Leahy will find dedicated priests, committed religious and enthusiastic lay men and women, young and not so young, who welcome him warmly today and who are eager to be his co-workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

I ask the good people of Limerick to pray for our new bishop in the days and weeks ahead as he prepares for the most important undertaking of his life, namely being Bishop of Limerick.

Statement of Father Brendan Leahy, St. John’s Cathedral, January 10, 2013

There is a line of Scripture that says blessed are those who set out with confidence in their hearts on a holy journey (Ps 84:5). Being appointed Bishop of Limerick is certainly not something I foresaw as part of my life’s journey, but I am very grateful to Pope Benedict for opening up for me a new stage in life among the people and places of the historical and renowned diocese of Limerick. I am pleased to be a successor to Bishop Donal Murray whom I very warmly greet. I look forward very much to getting to know the people of this diocese.

Confidence comes certainly not from me. I am only too conscious of the contrast between who I am and the task ahead of me. But I recognise that the Church is first and foremost based on a promise that does not deceive: Jesus’ promise: “remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28: 20). Not only is he with us, but he has sent his greatest gift, the Holy Spirit who is “father of the poor,” “giver of gifts”, and “light of our hearts”. The Holy Spirit is the One who “heals what is wounded,” “bends what is rigid”, “guides what is astray”.

I want to express heartfelt thanks to His Excellency, Archbishop Charles Brown, who has accompanied me gently but convincingly in the past week since he informed me of Pope Benedict’s decision. I thank him for honouring us with his presence among us here this morning. Many people have told me of the invaluable contribution Fr. Tony Mullins has made in the past three years. I’d like to add my thanks to theirs for his wonderful work. He has worked selflessly and tirelessly as administrator. I am most grateful to him for the warm welcome he has extended to me.

I can’t claim to have great links with Limerick. My parents who were teachers in Dublin came from the same parish of Ballyferriter in West Kerry and we often stopped in Limerick travelling to Kerry on our holidays. I spent a week once on a summer camp in the Salesian College, Pallaskenry. Any Limerick people I know have been kind to me so I guess that augurs well. My father actually taught in Athea for a year in the 1940s but his love for my mother brought him back to Dublin. I recognise I’ll probably have to improve my knowledge of Rugby, be more informed about hurling (I actually won a medal in hurling when I was young – but to be honest I was a sub on a team and got playing only for a few minutes!). With roots in Kerry, my football knowledge might be a little better...  But I look forward to getting to know all about Limerick diocese, its people and culture. I am pleased to hear that next year, 2014, Limerick will be the national city of culture.

That the Church is going through a period of great transition is not new news and yet it is good news. Speaking through the prophet Isaiah, the Holy Spirit invites us to look at things with new eyes: “Look, I am doing something new... it is beginning already” (Is 43: 19). Yes, we have been through a very dark moment but God is not absent. Jesus on the Cross cried out “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46). In that moment, every suffering, every despair, every separation, every injustice became his. He is never far from us when we seem most abandoned.

God is indeed at work in our lives. In response to God’s action, we must do all we can to make sure that Church settings are always good places to be, where genuine mutual love is experienced – in this regard I am pleased to recognise the observation made in the recent Audit by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland that the diocese of Limerick has robust measures in place in the area of child safeguarding and protection.

The day a new bishop is announced in a diocese is an opportunity for the person concerned but perhaps also for the whole diocese to “begin again” in faith, hope and love. A few days ago, I attended the funeral of the father of a friend of mine. As we walked through the graveyard, we were noticing the headstones with people’s dates of death. Suddenly, I came across one that had “Brendan Leahy” written on it in bold letters and the deceased had died at 52 years of age – my own age! I did check I was still alive! But I also felt it was as if God wanted to remind me – we only have one life. It’s important to live it well. As long as my heart beats I have a chance to begin again to believe more, to hope more, to love more. It’s an invitation that comes to us all on this day – perhaps we can start again in our relationship with the Church and with one another as fellow sisters and brothers of the one People of God.

On this day, I want to join the diocese in prayer for one another, prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters of other denominations – in this regard I greet warmly Bishop Trevor Williams of the Church of Ireland, prayer for those we know who are suffering in any way, those in hospital, those looking for work, those with family difficulties; prayer for those afflicted by abuse in any way, mental health problems and fear of violence and crime.

I want to join the diocese in prayer for all who continue day by day in building up our civic community in all its expressions – from local politicians to the many engaged in voluntary associations and in schools, from those working in business and economics to those in factories, agriculture, the media and the arts, from those working in the Gardaí, prison services and army to those in industry, tourism and sport and many others.

An occasion such as this affords me the opportunity to offer a word of gratitude to our legislators for all their commitment to promoting the common good. Politics is a vocation and I am convinced most people enter politics with a vision and a desire to improve the world. I want to assure them of prayers at this delicate time for the protection of life, that they may be inspired to know how best to protect the lives of mothers and their unborn children.

I thank all of you who are here present today. Being together is important. I greet and thank the many very committed lay men and women, young and old, of this diocese, the exemplary men and women of religious congregations, orders and communities and especially the good priests. I look forward very much to working with you all. Our communion in Christ is what gives us strength.

In particular I greet people who feel they are hanging on in the Church by their finger tips and all who are struggling with their faith. I invite you not to give up. This is a Year of Faith. It can be a new start for us all.

I am mindful today of the two patron saints of the diocese, St. Ita, foster mother of the saints of Ireland, and St. Munchin, who are models of faith for us. They remind us that holiness is also possible for young people. I count on the contribution of young people in the diocese. 

I entrust myself to Mary who, as a young person, co-operated powerfully with the Holy Spirit, along her life’s journey. And I pray in the words of a poem by the eighteenth century Limerick poet, Tadgh Gaelach Ó Súilleabháin

Gile mo chroí do chroíse, a Shlánaitheoir,                                    
agus ciste mo chroí do chroíse a fháil i m' chomhair
ós follas gur líon do chroí dom' ghrása, a stóir,
i gcochall mo chroí do chroíse fág i gcomhad.[1]



[1] The light of my heart your heart, o Saviour, and the treasure of my heart your heart to have in my presence, since it is clear that your heart filled with my love, o beloved, in the hollow of my heart your heart leave in store.

Statement by Bishop Donal Murray on the appointment of Fr Brendan Leahy as Bishop of Limerick

I greatly welcome the Holy Father’s appointment of Father Brendan Leahy as Bishop of Limerick.   I am sure that he undertakes his new ministry with some trepidation, but he will bring many gifts and wide experience to the task he now that now awaits him.  He has a pastoral outlook; he has a fine theological mind; he has had many years of involvement in third level Catholic education; he has been deeply involved in work for Christian unity.

I am confident that he will receive the same warm welcome, the wholehearted cooperation and the friendship of the priests, religious and people of the diocese that I received on my arrival in the diocese and during the years that I was privileged to serve as bishop.

I offer him my personal prayers, support and best wishes for a fruitful and rewarding ministry as Bishop of Limerick.

+Donal Murray

Bishop Emeritus of Limerick

10 January 2013

Click here for more images from St. John's Cathedral