On Sunday 11 February, Bishop Brendan Kelly was installed as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas. Family and friends of Bishop Kelly joined concelebrating bishops and priests in a packed cathedral for the ceremony.
Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, was chief prelate at the installation ceremony, assisted by Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh; His Excellency Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Papal Nuncio to Ireland; and Bishop Martin Drennan, Bishop Emeritus of Galway. The Apostolic letter of appointment from His Holiness, Pope Francis, was read by Canon Michael Mcloughlin and Bishop Kelly preached the sermon.
Speaking on the day, Bishop Kelly welcomed all present to the cathedral, including President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and Mr Pearse Flannery, Mayor of Galway, as well as representatives from different churches and religions in the Galway region, saying ‘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.’
In his homily Bishop Kelly said, ‘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.
‘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”’.
He continued, ‘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.’
Reflecting on the World Day of the Sick, Bishop Brendan Kelly went on to say, ‘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.’
He concluded, ‘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.’