Words of welcome from Archbishop Eamon Martin during the Ordination of the Most Reverend Tom Deenihan
as Bishop of Meath
Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar 2 ix 2018
Dear Brothers and sisters,
As I stand here and look out at this great congregation gathered in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, I cannot help but think back to exactly this time last week when I stood on the sanctuary near Pope Francis at the beginning of the closing Mass for the World Meeting of Families. That gathering was truly a family of families; people from all over Ireland and from more than one hundred countries of the world gathered to praise and worship God with our Holy Father himself.
Our gathering today is also a family of families – I think especially of Canon Deenihan’s immediate and extended family members as well as Bishop Buckley and those gathered from the parishes and dioceses of Cork and Ross and of Bishop Smith and all the representatives here from the Diocese of Meath. Today this family of families rejoices and prays together as we prepare for the Episcopal Ordination of Canon Deenihan.
Last Sunday, when speaking to the bishops of Ireland at the end of his visit, Pope Francis encouraged us, as bishops, to be fathers and shepherds of our people. He reminded us to be fathers and shepherds of prayer, of hope and of mission so that we can lead the family of families that is the people of God with wisdom, faith and charity. In today’s ceremony I encourage you to pray for your bishop elect. Being a bishop today, conscience of our own personal unworthiness and sinfulness, we realise that is only by God’s grace that we can be true fathers and shepherds. During our Mass today let us pray in thankfulness for the Episcopal Ministry of Bishop Michael Smith who has led the faithful in this diocese as a bishop, for thirty-five years.
I wish to express my deep gratitude to Bishop Smith, the longest serving bishop in Ireland. He is highly respected by his brother bishops and I know, that you the people and priests of this diocese, have greatly valued his commitment and leadership and personal warmth and generosity of spirt as your father and shepherd.
As a relative newcomer to the Bishops’ Conference I myself have valued highly his great wisdom and his warm personal encouragement. I pray God’s blessings on him and wish him good health and happiness in his retirement. I hope and pray that your new bishop will have good health and wisdom to guide you in a similar way in the years to come.
Brothers and sisters I welcome Cardinal Seán, my brother bishops and priests, diocesan and public representatives from Meath and Cork and Ross dioceses and representatives of other Christian traditions and, above all, I welcome you the faithful people of this diocese.