Bishop Brendan Kelly was installed as Bishop of Galway in a very prayerful, moving and spectacular ceremony held today, February 11th, in Galway Cathedral. Over 2000 people in attendance, including many from the diocese of Achonry. Below is the text of Bishop Kelly’s words of welcome and his homily notes.
Words of welcome
A phobail Dé na páirte, fáiltím romhaibh ar fad chuig Ardeaglais Muire na Deastógala agus Naomh Nioclás anseo i gCathair ársa na dTreabh. Is aoibheann liom bhúr dteacht.
Is mór linn go bhfuil Uachtarán ar dtíre, a Shoillse Míchéal D Ó hUiginn anseo, in éineacht le bean Uí Uigín – fáilte Uí Cheallaigh agus chuile fháilte eile romhaibh.
I welcome also, representing all the people of this great city, the Mayor of Galway, Mr Pearse Flannery, along with the members of the City Council of Galway.
I welcome all the public representatives, both local and national, from the city and the various electoral areas within the diocese.
Fáiltím roimh na Priomh-Oidí Scoile atá anseo from this diocese and those representing Catholic education from Achonry.
Our brothers and sisters from other Christian churches and communions, thank you for honouring us with your presence. An Arddeochan Gary Hastings ó séipéal ársa San Nioclás í gcroí na Cathrach, tá mile fáilte romhat. And a most particular welcome to the Rev Andrea Wills here with her husband Charles from Foxford. I am glad to see you both today. I welcome also Rev Helen Freeburn from the local Presbyterian and Methodist community; Father Tudor Ghita from the Romanian Orthodox community and Abba Pauls Antony of the Coptic Church. I am happy that we are welcoming a local Imam from the Muslim community. What an incredibly rich and diverse religious and Christian reality in this city you represent. I look forward to us working together for the welfare of all the people of Galway and the generations who come after us.
My brother bishops, thank you for coming, and the many priests and religious from this diocese. A particular welcome to the priests who have come from Achonry, with whom I have had the privilege of working for the last ten years, a very special welcome to you today, I will never forget your kindness agus míle míle buíochas.
I welcome all the people who are here from the various diocesan pastoral services and the Marriage Tribunal.
I thank all the people who are here from the Diocese of Achonry. I have been so happy living amongst you these past ten years.
I welcome the family members of recent bishops.
I welcome and have been welcomed by the priests of this diocese – my old diocese and now, again, my new diocese. I look forward very much indeed to working with you.
Most of all though, I welcome the representatives of all the parishes of this diocese. And I am sure the rest won’t mind if I make special mention of all those who have come from Kinvara, Coláiste Einde, Gort, Lisdoonvarna, agus An Spidéal.
I, of course, welcome my own family members and finally I welcome all my friends, some of whom have come a long distance and from overseas, and in a very particular way, I welcome all those from Faith and Light, and other services, who are so ably represented on the altar today by Jose, who began serving Mass with me over forty years ago.
I dtús báire … mo bhuíochas ó chroí daoibh ar fad as a bheith anseo inniu: comhluadar ós cionn dhá mhile duine le chéile ag ceiliúradh Aifreann Dé agus ag gabháil buíochas le Dia. We gather on this occasion to celebrate the Holy Eucharist, so we gather to prayer and worship, always an act of profound humility. And so critical for all of us in this world of too much waste and too much want.
To pray and worship is to become our best possible selves as rational human beings. It is for this we have been created. And for me to be in the middle of this great wellspring means everything today. I am so happy to be with and I thank you all, and bheirim míle moladh agus altú le Dia.
I would like first of all to invite us all to become aware, in the silence, of this great structure that surrounds us, this Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas, that is giving us sanctuary this afternoon.
I invite you to feel the size, the great height, the light and the colour through the beautiful windows, as we listen to the life-giving Word, the uplifting music, aware of the strength and spaciousness, the stark beauty and the safety of this sacred place.
While still in primary school fadó, at the end of the 1950’s of the last century, myself and my sister Mary went round the byroads and townlands in the parish of Craughwell on our bicycles collecting the half-crown a week or less – whatever people could afford – to fund the building of this mighty edifice. We enjoyed the task very much as we got to know the parish and its people. And somehow we knew that like those contributing, we were all part of a great project. ’Twas all long before health and safety was heard of!
Teach Dé agus Teach an Phobail. House of God and of God’s people. I could never imagine then a day like this, presiding here with so many people at this great banquet of life and joy and welcome. God is here. And we are here. Meeting. Cathedral and Church are built so that we can remember who we are and what we are for in this world. And the immense dignity, respect and reverence that is due to every living person, regardless of ability, health, colour, size, nationality, or otherwise. This place exists lest we forget the nobility and dignity, the wonder of human life from its tiniest origins. It is prayer, that meeting with our Maker, that matters, all that this place invites us to, to pray and be ourselves, ‘pray – ers’.
Recently I have been asked to do quite a few interviews with journalists. Invariably I am asked about my plans and hopes and, invariably, I find myself talking about prayer as the first thing, sitting, resting, finding the quiet and lonely place like Jesus, away from it all, time out from all the bustle and business to be silent, to reflect and be with God and Jesus, the Word and Mary, that we might recognise and become alive to God’s plan for us now.
In a world of too much speed and debilitating stress and pressure, we need to discover prayer anew, all of us, to begin again. And we have no shortage of places thanks to the humbler and more eternal view of the generations that went before us. Places like this Cathedral. Built for our restoration and healing. For all that Jesus gave to the poor leper in answer to that desperate cry, his prayer in today’s Gospel: “If you want to, you can cure me.” The reply is immediate, spontaneous, “Of course I want to. Be cured.” And he was. It is the gift of Jesus to all who come to Him. It is when we cry from the heart that we are believers. Faith and prayer. You cannot have one without the other.
Thinking beyond ourselves
Back in 1965, at the opening of this great Cathedral, Cardinal Cushing of Boston asked the packed congregation, (just like today), rhetorically over and over again: “Why did you build this Cathedral?” I remember the question resounding out, though I cannot recall any of his answers. It is a question that I invite us all to ask ourselves today. And let us give thanks for the generations gone before us from whom we have inherited the sustaining treasure of our Christian and Catholic Faith and the knowledge of Jesus Christ; those ancestors of ours, who built this and so many other churches in more frugal times. They were thinking of the future, too, and the generations to come. Thinking of us.
Do we sufficiently think of our children and those who come after us, and what sort of world are we going to leave them?
We are now commonly known and referred to, all of us, in certain circles especially, as “consumers”. Merely that. And there is great evidence that we have succumbed to the designation, and will leave this world as a much more desert place than we found it. The leper today came from a deserted place. Hordes of desperate people are clamouring at the shores of Europe today as their homelands cannot sustain them anymore, ravaged as they are by modern wars and the excess consumption of resources by the ironically titled “developed world” of which we are part, that same world that supplies all the weapons of destruction and death. Pope Francis has written much about the cry of the poor – and of all people whose lives in their defenceless innocence and vulnerability – being under threat in these times.
We follow Jesus. Or do we? It is not easy today. It never was, in fact. He challenges and invites us to assume a responsibility that we can find too burdensome, unrealistic and even impossible.
World Day of the Sick
Today the Universal Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick. It is also the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes. ‘Twas on this day, 160 years ago, that the beautiful woman appeared to an impoverished, asthmatic, and sickly child, Bernadette, and prayed with her as she foraged in the local dump at Lourdes for firewood so her misfortunate family might be warm. Nowadays many of us love to visit Lourdes. We go there on pilgrimage. It is a place where people who are sick, disabled, and utterly dependent on others, are at the centre, given the place of honour. Wheelchairs have priority on the roads. And it is a place of miracles, not so much physically, but miracles of the heart. People like you and I transformed inside, discovering a new joy in giving themselves to the point of exhaustion frequently to help and support and accompany those who are in need. We return home, like the Three Wise Men, ‘by a different way’.
The Church, the followers of Jesus, has from the beginning given the place of honour to those whose lives in their weakness and innocence are under threat. And it is in giving life that we ourselves become all that God has made us to be. “I try,” Saint Paul says in the second reading today, “to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage, but for the advantage of everyone else, so that they may be saved.” He then goes on to say, “take me for your model, as I take Christ.” If there is a programme or a plan that we must have today, it is the plan of God, already revealed in the man, Jesus, who today, on this World Day of the Sick, in our Gospel reached out to the one who was discarded and feared, and gave life … to His own terrible cost.
So, may our prayer and worship this day, together and in each heart, inspire us not to be afraid ever but rather to be renewed in our determination to joyfully love one another as Jesus loves us and gives His life still for our sake. For that is what we are now about to celebrate in this mystery of the Holy Eucharist.