Bishop Fintan Gavin was ordained on Sunday as Bishop of Cork & Ross in Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Anne in Cork City. It was the first ordination of a Catholic Bishop for Cork & Ross since 1984, when Bishop John Buckley was ordained auxiliary bishop of the diocese.
Bishop Gavin is 53 years old and has served as a priest since 1991. He is the second eldest of seven brothers and sisters and was born on the north side of Dublin. Until this appointment he served as the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Dublin and also ministered in Our Lady of Victories Parish, Dublin. The ordination ceremony is the culmination of several weeks of planning by people from across the Diocese of Cork & Ross and was a joyous celebration for the people and for Bishop-elect Fintan, his family and friends.
Bishop Buckley was the Principal Consecrator and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly were the co-consecrators. People of all ages and from several parishes were involved in the ceremony which saw 1200 people gathered in the cathedral for the Mass as well along with 850 people gathered in Skibbereen’s Cathedral where the Mass was also relayed and where those in attendance were able to participate in the ceremony in prayer, singing and Communion.
Speaking after his consecration, Bishop Gavin said, “This afternoon I carry the Pastoral Staff or Crozier symbolising, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, which was created for Bishop Michael Murphy by his parishioners of the Parish of Douglas. For anointings, I will be using the Holy Oil vessels for the sacraments created by his neighbouring people for the Bishop of Ross in 1935. For me they symbolise the continuity of faith and bonds with the faithful local people of the diocese of Cork and Ross. It is for the same reason of the continuity of faith and apostolic succession that I was delighted that Bishop John Buckley agreed to ordain me today together with Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. Bishop John has given of himself so generously as your much-loved pastor over the last 21 years. I am personally grateful for the support and warm encouragement that he has given me since the announcement in early April. As he looks forward to a more relaxed pace of life in retirement, I hope that he will be present and active and feel welcome in our diocesan occasions and celebrations in the years ahead. I look forward to continuing to draw on his wisdom and his experience. I am thankful to the Metropolitan Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, a native of this city, for his involvement today.”
Paying tribute to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Bishop Gavin said, “I am grateful to him and to his predecessor Cardinal Connell for the many life-giving opportunities I have been trusted with in ministry as a priest over the last 28 years. I am particularly grateful to Archbishop Diarmuid Martin for his kindness and his practical advice and support in these months of preparation.
“I would like to thank His Excellency Archbishop Jude Okolo, Pope Francis’ representative in Ireland, for his presence here today and for his kindness over these last three months. I appreciate the presence of Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland, and the many other bishops who concelebrated today.”
Bishop Gavin went on to say, “The thing that has struck me most since I arrived here in the Cathedral on 8 April for the announcement, has been the generous heartfelt welcome and offer of support of so many people in Cork City and county including from the many letters and cards of welcome and encouragement, especially from the priests.
“This was captured in the letter from Joseph from West Cork who was preparing for his Confirmation when he wrote to offer me his good wishes and tell me that he and his family visited Knock and he prayed for me there and would continue to pray for me each day.
“And when I travelled to Lourdes for the last time as chaplain with the Dublin Diocesan Children’s Pilgrimage, I met with Cormac, Marie, Sean and Jodie who presented the gifts for the Eucharist today and the other members of the Cork 126 Group from the Irish Children’s Pilgrimage Trust. They invited me for lunch at their hotel and presented me with my first Cork flag, which I treasure.
“Meister Eckhart, the Dominican Mystic, once said, “if the only prayer you say is thank you, that would be enough”. My prayer is a prayer of thanks and gratitude to so many today.”
Bishop Gavin continued by thanking his parents and family. He said, “I am fortunate to have both my parents here today. I am grateful to them for all they gave to my brothers, sisters and myself through their selfless generosity and love and through their own example, sharing the gifts of faith and love. I am fortunate to have very supportive family and close friends who have and continue to support me in ministry. To those who have travelled from the United States of America, Italy, England, Scotland, Wales and so many parts of Ireland, thank you for your presence here today.”
Bishop Gavin also offered his heartfelt thanks to all those involved in the ordination liturgy.
Reflecting on his ministry as Bishop of Cork and Ross, Bishop Gavin said, “Today as we begin a new chapter in our diocesan story, we celebrate and give thanks for all that has been done to allow our parishes to be active and faith filled communities. We set out anew, building on all that great work through the years, together as priests, permanent deacons, religious and all the people of the diocese, as we collaboratively find new ways of witnessing to the Gospel message confronting with faith, hope and determination in joyful witness the many challenges that face our diocese and Church today.
“We need to promote a culture of vocational discernment and consideration of all of the Christian vocations to love and service. We are fortunate to have in Cork & Ross, dedicated, hardworking and faithful priests who continue to give generous service, but they are a group that are getting smaller. We need to actively go out of our way to encourage, foster, nourish and promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
“The priesthood is a challenging but wonderfully fulfilling life. We need to help young men, all those who feel that Jesus may be calling them to follow him as priests, to hear and respond to God’s call to priesthood. Priests come from our families and as families we must nurture and support those vocations.”
Addressing those who have lost their faith or are struggling at the margins of life, Bishop Gavin said, “Pope Francis continually reminds us that the mission of the Church, the People of God is to go beyond itself, to be open and welcoming, reaching out to those on the margins and the peripheries, going towards the last, the lost, and least among us – who are at the very heart of the mission of the living Body of Christ, the Church in the world. He names among those on the margins as the hungry, the unemployed, those in prison, those who have lost their faith. As a Christian community if we are to be authentic, we need to be in solidarity and reach out in concrete action. To those who have lost their faith or are struggling to hang on in there particularly because of the awful things that individuals or institutions have done in the name of the Church, we need to stretch out a hand of dialogue and listening so that their voices are heard – so that we can apologise once again and learn from the awful things that were allowed to happen. We can never allow this to happen again.”
Addressing the important work of safeguarding children in the Church, Bishop Gavin said, “Deep gratitude goes out to all priests, sisters, brothers, deacons, all who serve in our parishes as staff and volunteers who have worked with great dedication in order to change this and to make our parishes and diocesan places safer for children and vulnerable adults. I want to acknowledge the work of Cleo Yates, Director of Safeguarding, and her important committee, for all the work they have done to make this happen. We stand in solidarity with survivors and their families and we continue our commitment and vigilance to the protection and safeguarding of children in our Church and in society.”
Concluding his address, Bishop Gavin spoke about the importance of young people for the Church saying, “Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation to young people Christus Vivit, Christ Is Alive, which the Holy Father published in March, reminds us that young people are not just the future of the Church but also its present. As he puts it, “You are the ‘Now of God’.”
“It’s great to see so many young people here today. You as young people are the best missionaries and witnesses to other young people. As we listen to young people, we need to support them in their faith so they can be the Church, the People of God of now and of the future.
“Pope Francis concludes the papal mandate read earlier by Canon John O’Donovan with an invitation: Speaking to me as your bishop and to the people of the diocese he says “May you give one another an example of mutual charity and be able to set out with one accord on the path of renewal.”
“Today we begin that path of renewal together.”