Category Archives: Frontpage

Data Protection Officer

The Dioceses of the Western Province are recruiting for a Data Protection Officer.  The purpose of this role is to assist a number of Dioceses of the Western Province (Tuam Ecclesiastical Province) and their constituent parishes and agencies in achieving compliance with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Western Province comprises the Diocese of Tuam, Galway, Elphin, Killala, Achonry and Clonfert. The Catholic Church recognises that good pastoral care and respect for the dignity of every person requires that personal data should be sourced, stored, processed and eventually disposed of in an appropriate manner and welcomes the essential principles underlying the GDPR.



Application also available on 

Bishop Brendan Installed as Bishop of Galway

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.

Homily notes

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.

The Cathedral

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.

Evening Prayer with Religious

On Sunday, February 4th, Bishop Brendan gathered with the Religious of the Diocese and a number of our diocesan priests and laity to pray with and for all who have given their lives in service of the Religious Life.  This was Bishop Brendan’s last official engagement in the diocese before he takes up his new role as Bishop of Galway on Sunday next.

He spoke of the absolute need for faith and trust in the future; “We can’t go back”, he said “like Jesus in this weekend’s Gospel, we need to go elsewhere …. in prayer, Jesus received and found what he needed to carry on”.  He reflected on his own move to Galway and that the future is totally in God’s hands – as is all of the future.  “Religious life is always about encountering people, encountering where they are.”  “Churches”, he said “were built so that people could gather together and be alone in the encountering of Jesus.”

His encouragement to all gathered was to keep engaging with people – meeting and being with them for that is the core of the Religious calling.

He used the occasion to thank all the Religious of the diocese for the wonderful support they had been to him over the past ten years.  He asked them to continue to keep him in prayer as he will keep them.

Fr Steve Gibson, CSC, spoke on behalf of all the Religious gathered and wished Bishop Brendan every success in his new role and concluded with a prayer of blessing.

Bishop Brendan appointed Bishop of Galway

Bishop Brendan Kelly

Bishop Brendan, appointed Bishop of Achonry in November 2007 and ordained in January 2008, has today been appointed Bishop of Galway.  The Diocese, in thanking him for his wonderful leadership over the past nine years, is tinged with sadness as we prepare to bid him farewell.  Returning to his native diocese, we wish him every happiness and blessing and know that his contribution to the life of Galway diocese will be meaningful and rooted in the Gospel he so cherishes.


I congratulate Bishop Brendan Kelly on his appointment as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and as Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, and with the priests, religious and people of Achonry I pray God’s blessing on him in this new ministry.

Bishop Brendan was ordained bishop of Achonry in January 2008 and he brought to that office many fine qualities, personal and pastoral. We thank him most especially for his kindness to priests and people alike, his commitment to priesthood and dedication to ministry.

We appreciate the initiatives he introduced, encouraged and supported within the diocese, his deep appreciation of the work of priests, his encouragement for their various ministries and his understanding of their ever increasing work-load.

As bishop, he was always deeply aware and encouraging of the ministries and activities carried out by the many volunteers at parish and diocesan level.

His appointment to the see of Galway takes him back to the place of his birth and early priesthood and while we would love to see him remain in Achonry, we know that God’s will comes first.

We remain forever grateful for the time Bishop Brendan spent in our diocese and assure him today and always of our continued prayers.

Monsignor Thomas Johnston,

Vicar-General Diocese of Achonry

11th December 2017


Following the appointment today by Pope Francis of Bishop Brendan Kelly as the new Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and as Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, Archbishop Eamon Martin has published the following statement of congratulations:

“I wish to offer my warmest congratulations and prayerful support to Bishop Brendan Kelly for his generous acceptance of a new episcopal appointment.

“Bishop Brendan’s ten years of pastoral service as Bishop of Achonry have been characterised by a natural warmth and empathy towards the people, priests and religious of the diocese, and a gentle, prayerful and caring leadership.

Now he returns to his roots! As a native of Craughwell, and a priest of longstanding, dedicated service in the diocese of Galway, Bishop Brendan will no doubt receive a wholehearted welcome home from the clergy and faithful of his native diocese. He returns with the benefit of new wisdom and experience garnered among the faithful people of Achonry.

“I am pleased that Bishop Brendan will continue his valued service to the Irish Episcopal Conference. His contribution, to date, has been immense – as a member of Standing Committee, the Commission for Catholic Education and Formation, Council for Liturgy and as chair of the Bishops’ Council for Education.

“In recent days, we rejoiced with Bishop Brendan as he brought to completion a project that has been dear to his heart as a native Irish speaker – the launch of the new altar edition of An Leabhar Aifrinn Rómhánach, the Irish translation of the Roman Missal.  One of the most important recent cultural achievements in this country, its preparation and production was the fruit of years of intensive work and collaboration of many individuals from throughout the Church, and Bishop Brendan deserves great credit for delivering an Irish Missal that we can all be proud of.

A man of great gifts, I wish him happiness and fulfilment in his new appointment.

“May Saint Colman, Saint Fachanan and Our Lady Assumed into Heaven guide Bishop Brendan in his new role in Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.

Guím gach rath Dé air agus ar a chuid saothair.”


“On behalf of the Bishops of the metropolitan province of Tuam, I wish to take this opportunity to warmly congratulate Bishop Brendan Kelly on his new appointment as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.

“Bishop Brendan was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Galway in 1971 and will now return as its bishop.  As both priest and bishop, Bishop Brendan has been a much loved local pastor and a very popular shepherd to the faithful of Achonry since his ordination as bishop on 27 January 2008.  His personal integrity, generosity of spirit and outstanding ministry to the people of the diocese will surely be missed.  No doubt he will bring the same natural enthusiasm and pastoral leadership to the people of his diocese of origin in Galway.”

Archbishop Neary concluded, “On this special day for the diocese and for the country, I ask the faithful to join with me in prayer to ask the Lord to guide and bless Bishop Brendan as he undertakes his new and important Episcopal appointment.”


Please see below the statement of welcome by the Very Reverend Michael Canon McLoughlin, Diocesan Administrator, regarding the news today that the Most Reverend Bishop Brendan Kelly has been appointed by Pope Francis as the new Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora:

“With great joy and with a feeling of some relief, I am honoured and I am proud to say to our new bishop – ceád mile fáilte romhat abhaile arís.

“We, the priests and people of these three ancient dioceses, have been through a sixteen-month Advent since the retirement of Bishop Martin Drennan in July 2016.  We have been waiting daily in expectation and in hope for white smoke.  Now that hope has been fulfilled with news from Rome and we at last can begin preparations to welcome one of our own back home to lead us and to be our shepherd.

“We have no doubt that Bishop Brendan will be a good shepherd.  The people of Lisdoonvarna and of Spiddal can testify to his compassion and his dedication, to his gentleness and his kindness when he were their priest.  Those many pupils he taught in Coláiste Éinde and in Our Lady’s College, Gort will also know of his abilities and commitment both inside and outside the classroom.  Although he left us ten years ago for Ballaghaderreen, we watched and regarded him with pride and we always kept him in our prayers.

“And now we are very pleased indeed that he has come back to us. We look forward to making him feel welcome and to helping him readjust.  We know some of his many gifts.  Like Bishop Drennan and Bishop McLoughlin before him, he has a passion for the Irish language and for Irish culture.  In his work he has always prioritised evangelisation and the wonderful potential of Catholic education. We know from his words in Oranmore last September, when he ordained our newest priest – Father Declan Lohan – that fostering and inspiring vocations to the priesthood and the religious life has always been to the fore in everything he says and does.  And we know too that he is a man of integrity and of deep faith.  These things are important to us: the priests and people of this diocese.  We look forward, with the help of God and our Blessed Mother, to sharing the journey in the years ahead with our new Bishop.  May God bless our work together mar ní neart go cur le chéile !

“On a personal note, as my time as Diocesan Administrator draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank, with deep gratitude, those many people who have supported me in my work these past sixteen months.  I will be forever indebted to our retired bishop, Martin Drennan, for his wisdom and unfailing kindness and to all those many people who worked closely with me in the Diocesan Office, in Moycullen, throughout Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and beyond.  I believe that Bishop Brendan is coming back home to a diocese full of enormous potential and promise and I wish him, and pray him, bountiful blessings.

“When a priest is first ordained, each priest at the ceremony goes at once to him, offers him the kiss of peace and whispers quietly in his ear ‘ad multos annos’, which means ‘to many years’.  Bishop Brendan, on my own behalf and on behalf of your priests and your people, from our hearts, we also say on this special day: ad multos annos!” 


A Cháirde dhíl,

Go mbeannaí Dia dhaoibh … Níor shíl mé riamh go mbeinn anseo, ná go mbeadh an ócáid seo ag tarlú.  Go raibh maith agaibh as teacht agus fanacht.

I am still somewhat in shock.  Having settled happily in Achonry, I never expected I never expected to be asked to take on the shepherding of another diocese.  However, the fact that it is my own native diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora makes it much easier to say yes to this appointment with which Pope Francis has chosen to honour me.  I am very grateful to the Holy Father for his trust.  And it is good to be coming home.

Tá mé sásta freisin bheith ag freastal arís i ndeoise ina bhfuil paróistí bhreátha Gaeltachta. Ba mhór an bheannacht  dom féin blianta a chaitheamh i measc muintir Chois Fharraige  i bparóiste An Spidéil.  Is maith bheith ar ais libh arís.

It is now over 10 years since I was appointed by Pope Benedict as Bishop of Achonry.  I have been very happy in Ballaghaderreen. I am deeply grateful first of all to the priests of the Achonry diocese.  Their welcome to me from the beginning was entirely generous and warm. I believe we have worked together well. I want to thank them with all my heart for their constant support, kindness and acceptance of all I asked of them. I will miss them, but I believe the bonds of friendship and fraternity will endure and continue to sustain me.

From the start, the welcome and acceptance I experienced from the people of Achonry, including the Religious, has been warm and generous, too.  It has been a grace from God to serve them and I trust they will continue to carry me in prayer as I will them. There are those then who worked with me on a daily basis in Achonry. I owe them a special debt of gratitude. I thank them and will miss them.

Now as I stand here in this beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas, I am conscious of all that lies ahead.  I look forward to working again with the priests of Galway diocese, colleagues since the day I was ordained up to the time I left here 10 years ago.  Many of you have been good friends to me for years.  And I am thinking today with deep gratitude to God of so many of them atá imithe ar shlí na fírinne, great mentors and friends.

I realise there is much work to be done. Somewhere all of us in the Church in Ireland need renewal in faith and in prayer at this time.  Pope Francis is very clear. All of us who have been baptised are missionaries and all of us must be on a continuous journey of conversion. The world needs the Good News as much or more than at any other moment in history.  We have all, priests and people, been solemnly commissioned at Baptism to carry that Good News to the people of our times, most particularly to those who are  experiencing exclusion, isolation and rejection and who are in need of good shepherds.  I invite you all to assume along with me a new determination to be those good shepherds and bearers of the Good News, priests and people together.

I want to say a particular word of thanks here today to my friend Canon Michael McLoughlin, with whom I served happy years in Lisdoonvarna.  Canon Michael has carried the burden of the Administration of the diocese since Bishop Martin retired.  I thank you, Michael, for the courage and faith with which you took on the task, the work you have done and the kindness with which you have dealt with each situation and the people involved.

I want to thank also Bishop Martin, my predecessor as bishop, for honouring the occasion with your presence, and I am so glad you are here today. Thank you for the years you gave shepherding all of us here in the diocese of Galway. Your prayers and scholarly love for God’s Word along with your wise counsel are still needed and I will be availing of them. We are glad that, in retirement, you have chosen to make your home among us and I personally look forward to your ongoing prayerful presence in the years ahead.  And speaking to you as a Kilkenny man, I have to say that I am glad to be returning at a time when Liam McCarthy is making his home again very happily west of the Shannon in this great County!

At the present time we are all looking forward to the World Meeting of Families in August in Dublin and particularly, please God, to a visit from Pope Francis. Pope Francis has set a very clear path for the Church in our time: He has placed the family at the heart of his programme from the start.  The theme he has given for the World Meeting in Dublin is “The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World”. We are all called to be and to build family domestically and at every level.  It is nothing short of tragic that in a time of unprecedented prosperity for so many, too many families are finding that there is no house for them, no room for them in the Inn. Then there is Our Holy Father’s focus on young people who must always be our first priority in the Church of Jesus Christ.  Along with family and young people, there is the critical mission in Ireland at this time that is Evangelisation: discovering anew the wonder and gift that Jesus Christ is for ourselves and learning anew how to share this gift with others.  We are becoming a smaller, weaker and poorer church.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I look forward to working closely with the priests and people of our parishes and diocese, with colleagues and good friends in the other Christian communities represented in our city and beyond, and with all people of good will, men and women, both the young and those who have the wisdom of years, as we build together the Kingdom of God. We must work together in new ways and as never before so that we will be a church that is open and welcoming, humble and full of mercy, and cherishing human life at its most fragile and vulnerable, no matter what the price: in other words, a church that confidently takes our stand always with the one who was crucified and whose birth outside and in abject poverty we are preparing now to celebrate again at Christmas.

Finally, mo bhuíochas ó chroí daoibh ar fad as bheith anseo ar maidin.  Please pray for me that I may give my life as Jesus did in service of you, his people.

BIOGRAPHY (Catholic Communications Office)

He was ordained to the priesthood on 20 June 1971 by Bishop Brown in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas in Galway city.

His first appointment was to the parish of Kinvara as a curate before being appointed to the teaching staff of Coláiste Éinde in Salthill in 1972, completing a Higher Diploma in Education in the then University College Galway (now the National University of Ireland, Galway) in 1973.

Bishop Brendan remained on the staff of Coláiste Éinde until 1980 when he was transferred to the teaching staff of Our Lady’s College, Gort, becoming President in 1986.

Following the 1995 amalgamation of the three Gort secondary schools, Bishop Brendan applied for and was granted sabbatical leave from his diocese for one year and went to live with the L’Arche Community at Cuise-la-Motte in France.  Founded by Jean Vanier in 1964, the worldwide L’Arche movement seeks to create inclusive, creative and caring families where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work in friendship, joy and mutual respect.

Returning to his diocese in 1996, Bishop Brendan was appointed by Bishop James McLoughlin as

Parish Priest of Lisdoonvarna in Co Clare and subsequently as Parish Priest of An Spidéal in 2003.

On 20 November 2007, Bishop Brendan was named by Pope Benedict XVI as the Bishop of Achonry, succeeding recently retired Bishop Thomas Flynn.  On 27 January 2008 he was ordained to the episcopate by Cardinal Seán Brady in the Cathedral of the Annunciation and Saint Nathy in Ballaghaderreen.

Today, 11 December 2017, Pope Francis, named Bishop Brendan as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, succeeding Bishop Martin Drennan who retired in July 2016.

It is planned that Bishop Brendan’s ‘Installation Ceremony’ will take place in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas on 11 February 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Bishop Brendan’s episcopal motto is ‘De réir d’fhocail’ (‘According to your word’ Lk 1:38).  He:

– is a fluent Irish speaker and has a working knowledge of the French language;

– was a member of the Standing Committee of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference for six years;

– is a member of the Bishops’ Council of the Liturgy;

– is a member of the Bishops’ An Coiste Comhairleach um Liotúirge i nGaeilge;

– is a member of the Bishops’ Commission for Catholic Education and Formation;

– is Chairman of the Bishops’ Council for Education;

– is a member of The Council for the West.

Accord @ 40

“O blessed trinity of love, for whom the human heart was made, to you be praise and timeless song and everlasting homage paid” – that’s what you do when you work for Accord” (Bishop Brendan Kelly)

On Sunday, June 11th, Bishop Brendan was Principal Celebrant at a Mass of Thanksgiving in St James’ Church, Charlestown.  Joined by priests of the diocese who, over the years, have been associated with the work of Accord within the diocese and with many of the counsellors and associates of Accord, thanks was given for the great work done over the past four decades.

Bishop Brendan spoke of the significance of the word – ACCORD – and its central role in the harmony of the home and family, whose core is marriage. He acknowledged the work done by ACCORD in preparing couples for marriage, accompanying them through it and, in some cases, offering support in the event of separation or bereavement.

Remembering members of Achonry’s Accord Team who have died over the years, there were prayers for the repose of their Souls and for God’s reward of the part they played in sustaining the Sacrament of Marriage.

“To serve marriage …. can never be anywhere but at the heart of the church”

“What is God like?” is a question we are often asked and Bishop Brendan felt that God was readily identifiable in the living of married life and, so in answer to the question, we might well be told: “Take a look and Mary and Pat, John and Margaret …” and you will see God present in the shared love and journey of married life with all its ups and downs, good days and bad, joys and sorrows.

“Love is our origin”, the bishop quoted from one of the Prefaces of Marriage, “it is our constant calling and our fulfillment in Heaven”.  Accord, in its work, supports such love and draws strength from this same love for its own journey.

The final word of course centred on “thanks” and the bishop was convinced this was not just a trite or throw away phrase.  He wanted all involved with the work of Accord, at present, in the past and into the future to know the gratitude of our diocese for the work so well done, the time so freely given and the ministry fulfilled. “We are grateful to you, we thank you and ask God to continue to bless you in your great work. Amen.”





Epiphany – as the twelfth day approaches

“The Crib” – Church of The Immaculate Conception, Kilmovee, Co. Mayo

As the “Epiphany” Kings arrive, it’s time for us to take our leave of the Crib but not to leave its message behind. Maybe a minute or two with some highlights from that message might be no harm:

  • Strangers in search of safe lodgings
  • A shed – a room – made available
  • A couple uncertain of what the future had in store
  • Shepherds/workers setting aside their work to go and “do homage”
  • Animals – “All God’s creatures have a place in the choir”
  • Angels – heard from on high but only truly heard in the heart and soul of faith
  • Kings – people in authority – realising theirs was a passing authority
  • Words, actions, kindness witnessed and “pondered in the heart”
  • In and through it all the Hand and Will of God – a plan unfolding.
  • MISSION – it does not end in the crib – in truth it begins here
  • The baby became a man ….
  • The man made a difference
  • We’re called to do the same.

“Companions on the journey”

The Light is On

“The Light is ON for YOU” this Sunday evening, December 18th in the following parishes for Advent celebration of Sacrament of Reconciliation.

There will be confessions in all our parishes during this week and you are asked to check local parish bulletins and websites for details.

In “THE LIGHT IS ON FOR YOU”, there will be priests available in the parish churches of the parishes listed below between 5pm and 6pm.

You will be made most welcome.

God bless.

  • Ballaghaderreen
  • Ballymote
  • Bohola
  • Bunninadden
  • Carracastle
  • Charlestown
  • Gurteen
  • Keash
  • Kilmovee
  • Swinford

A neighbour recalls

Pat Hunt, a native of Ballaghaderreen, shared the following.  

His piece also features in the 2016 Publication of “Ballaghaderreen Echoes” (going on sale December 8th).  

Both men are remembered with fondness and respect within our diocese and further afield.  May they rest in peace.

We are grateful to him for sharing his thoughts and memories with us on our Diocesan Website.

Two remarkable priest brothers from Ballaghaderreen

Monsignor Gerard Spelman (1930-1990)

Monsignor Gerry Spelman, R.I.P.

“Goodbye Monsignor, we’ll meet in heaven,” were among the words spoken by about 30 parishioners after their tenth and final annual visit to the grave in Kilcolman of Monsignor Gerard Spelman, their late parish priest in the diocese of Leeds.

Monsignor Gerard died suddenly in his Leeds parish in March 1990 after 35 years’ devoted service. One hundred priests and almost 1,000 people attended his funeral mass before his remains were taken home to Ballaghaderreen for burial.

Ordained in All Hallows College in 1955, he worked for 13 years as a curate, and then served nine years as chaplain to two teacher-training colleges, and is remembered by former students with gratitude and affection.

He was then appointed Director of Wood Hall, the diocesan pastoral centre, where he ministered with patience and understanding to the needs of Vietnamese refugees. In 1981 he was assigned as parish priest to the first of his two parishes (St Augustine’s and St Paul’s) in Leeds. At that time the Irish community in the city numbered almost 31,000 persons. Older Irish people there remember him as a particularly dedicated chaplain to the Irish community.

He touched the lives of many, many people in Leeds. At the time of his passing, all spoke of his great patience, kindness, and above all, his gentleness. Many Irish emigrants who arrived in the city with little money and even less in the way of job prospects found Fr Gerry a willing listener who always found the time and energy to put them in touch with potential employers.

Monsignor Joseph Spelman (1932-2016)

Monsignor Joe Spelman, R.I.P.

His brother, Joseph, was ordained in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth in 1959. After a year on a Ford Fellowship at Stanford University, California, he ministered in Palo Alto parish, Archdiocese of San Francisco until 1965.

On his return to Ireland in 1965 he taught in St Nathy’s College and Ballaghaderreen Vocational School. Patsy McGarry (Irish Times), a past pupil, has warm memories of Fr Joe. “He had a wry sense of humour and paid me the first compliment I ever recall for something I wrote. It was for a line in an essay. It tickled Fr Spelman’s sense of humour and he commented, “…Very good, Very good’. I stood very tall indeed!”

In 1969 he was appointed Professor of Mathematical Physics in Maynooth, a position he held until he was appointed a monsignor and parish priest of Collooney in 1992. He became Vicar General of Achonry diocese.

Fr Joe loved local history. He researched and wrote, for example, the definitive account of how Ballaghaderreen came to be located in Co Roscommon, not Mayo. He circulated a pamphlet on this topic, which I hope is still available to help young local people explore their identity. In Collooney he loved to hear older people recall the people and lore of days long ago. Many parishioners said he was a great listener.

In his homily at Monsignor Joe’s funeral mass last June, Bishop Brendan Kelly related how people described him as a ‘gentleman’ — in every sense a gentleman and gentle man. “He was quiet spoken and reserved, laconic and witty, discreet but welcoming, very attentive to people, and kind, always kind.”

Fr Vincent Sherlock, who served with Fr Joe in Collooney wrote, “He moved with people at their pace, prayed with people … and stayed for as long he was needed. He was a good priest, a role model and thankfully a friend.”

His former Maynooth teaching colleagues gathered in September to offer a memorial mass for Monsignor Joe. Chief celebrant, Fr Pat Hannon, professor emeritus of Moral Theology, recalled a gifted teacher “who bore his learning and piety lightly”. He added that when Fr Joe was recalled to his home diocese after 25 years’ service in Maynooth, he first took a sabbatical “to brush up on theology, liturgy and pastoral work”. Such was his dedication to his priestly calling.

As a boy and student I had the privilege of serving mass regularly for the Spelman priests when they spent their respective summer holidays in their native town. I have vivid memories of their mother sitting radiantly in the front row of a side altar in the cathedral attentive to their every word and ritual. Even then I was aware that for them each celebration of mass was an intensely spiritual experience.

Gentleness and kindness were their shared hallmarks then and for the rest of their lives. May their noble souls enjoy eternal peace.

Spelman family

The priest brothers were the sons of Joe and Mary Spelman. Joe (Snr) was a hardware manager in Flannery’s, although he started his career in Monica Duff’s. His brother, Canon James Spelman PP, served in many parishes in Achonry diocese and is buried in the chapel grounds in Tubbercurry. Another brother, Willie, ran a successful garage business in Barrack Street, later passed on to his son, Billy (RIP).

Born in Monaghan, his wife, Mary Spelman, came to Ballaghaderreen first to teach in the Convent NS but later found her true and much celebrated niche as junior infant teacher in Coolavin NS (Monasteraden). Marie, the third Spelman sibling, took up nursing in Dublin, later married Frank Gallagher (RIP) and set up her present home in the capital.

Golden era for vocations

Ten young men from the Ballaghaderreen area were ordained to the priesthood in the 1950s: Paddy Kilgarriff (1953), Robert Flynn (1954), Edward Towey (1955), Thomas Flynn (1956), Dominic Doherty (1956), James Creaton (1958), Edward Dorrington (1958), Sean Flanagan (1959), Gerry (1955) and Joe (1959) Spelman. The early 1960s saw six more ordinations: Barry Freyne (1960), Des McMahon (1961), Seamus McMahon (1964), Joe Macken (1965), Jack Madden (1963), James Shryane (1965). Fine men and priests, one and all.

Patrick Hunt

Soul List

The journey continues! We’re into Week two and it’s another opportunity to put the Spiritual House in order. Just as we might have the “shopping list” for Christmas, so too we might need a “Soul List”. What needs to be penciled in there? Confessions? Penance? Prayer? Mass? Make your mark – make the difference! We’re on a journey after all and it begins, like all journeys, with a single step.

Check out times of Confessions in your local and neighbouring parishes as Advent continues.  The LIGHT IS ON FOR YOU will take place in a number of parishes on Sunday December 18th.  Further details later.

Christ the King

Some thoughts around the Feast of Christ The King

In the past few days people have received calls from Donald Trump, inviting them to Trump Towers and they went in the expectation of receiving an appointment to his administration.  He’s now in “power” and will gather around him people who seek power.  He’s no different to many others in similar situations.  For more than two years he has sought power, as did those who campaigned against him, for there is something in power that attracts people.  That’s the way it’s always been and is certain to continue.

On the last Sunday of the Church’s Year we are given the image of Christ The King.  There is little that speaks more to power than “KING” – from our childhood days we heard stories of Kings and Queens, Princes and Princesses and their lifestyle.  We imagined their castles, thrones, kingdoms and rejoiced with the good ones who did well by their people and hissed disapproval at the evil and warped ones who sought to make life difficult for others “Look out, he’s behind you”, was the pantomime roar.  “Oh no he’s not” – “Oh yes, he is”!

Christ the King is found neither in castle or on throne.  He’s crucified between two thieves.  He’s mocked, jeered, spat at and offered vinegar to drink.  A sign says he is “king of the Jews” but those gathered around have no regard for him or his “kingship”.  It’s total humiliation.  It’s awful.  He is at his lowest moment and begins to doubt even the Father’s love “why have you abandoned me?”.

In the midst of all this awfulness there is a moment of light.  “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”.  How those words must have lifted his fallen spirit.  In the absence of pomp and ceremony, robes and crown, someone was still able to grasp the truth.  “There’s more going on here deeper than meets the eye”. What was it that sparked that moment of recognition in the “good thief”?  Where did he find those words? Where did he unwrap that gift of faith that allowed him see beneath the lashes and bruising, the nails and the blood to the one beneath and above it all?  Somehow he managed it!  Hands tied and in undoubted pain, he realised the man beside him was more than man.  He was KING!  Some kings had the name of being merciful and surely he’d be numbered among them – “Jesus”, he said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom”.

His words, far from falling on deaf ears, gave hope to a dying man and helped him realise his words had not fallen unheeded to the ground.  In the midst of all this hostility and hatred, there was sill hope – still faith and a desire for something better.

“Indeed”, replied the King “this day you will be with me in Paradise”.

Trump Towers or Calvary?  Power is at its best in fragility and weakness for it is from these it can draw and transform people.  Power, when recognised where you’d least expect it, is a special and life-altering gift.


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