Bishop Brendan Leahy, Bishop of Limerick, has today welcomed the appointment of Father Paul Finnerty as Vice-Rector of the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. Father Finnerty, who has been diocesan secretary for the past 12 years, will take up his post this June.
Congratulating Father Finnerty on his appointment, Bishop Leahy said, “It will be with a heavy heart but the very best wishes that the diocese will bid farewell to Father Paul after 12 sterling years as diocesan secretary. On my arrival here I was immediately struck by his integrity, hard work and deep humanity. He will leave a big gap when he departs. Father Paul has championed many causes, aside altogether from the immense workload that he has gotten through as diocesan secretary. He has put endless hours, for example, into the Le Chéile School in Roxboro and I believe its emergence as a model, inclusive education entity will stand the test of time.”
Giving the background to the appointment, Bishop Leahy continued, “Father Paul has a deep sense of calling from the Lord to minister wherever the Lord wants him to serve and, after his years of service here in Limerick as diocesan secretary we discussed where he might next serve. One possibility was the Missions in Peru but the position as Vice-Rector of the Irish College in Rome came up recently and he was recommended for this and selected by the Trustees.
“He will be a great loss to the Diocese of Limerick but a great addition to the Irish College and I have no doubt that he will play a huge role in the formation of many future priests,” Bishop Leahy said.
Commenting on his appointment, Father Finnerty said, “It is an exciting time to be involved in the formation of future priests who will minister to the pilgrim people of God in Ireland. The face of the Church in Ireland is changing, as is the culture and environment in which priests will minister. I have had 12 wonderful years here in the diocese of Limerick. It has been a time of great change and a time of great challenge. There were some dark days but there has always been light. I will leave the diocese at a time of real hope now as we prepare for the Synod next month and the reimagining, together with the people, of how the Church will continue to serve in the years and decades ahead. I firmly believe we are experiencing a renewal as the Church, not least with the guidance of Pope Francis and, indeed, here in Limerick with Bishop Leahy, readies itself for a new era in communion with the people.”
He added, “The experience I have had as diocesan secretary will be something I will bring to my new role. Over the last 12 years I have worked closely with priests and people of the diocese and I am very grateful for the goodwill and warmth I experienced. The role of diocesan secretary has been a demanding one but enormously enriching.”
Father Paul Finnerty, the son of Superintendent Tony and Mary Finnerty, attended Saint Patrick’s College Maynooth and Seminary, beginning his studies for the priesthood on 4 September 1994. Father Finnerty was ordained in June 2002, and returned to Maynooth to complete a licentiate in Theology. His first appointment was a curate to the parish of Askeaton/Ballysteen. One year into this appointment Bishop Donal Murray appointed him as assistant diocesan secretary and the following year he was appointed secretary on a full-time basis to replace Father Tony Mullins. He remained in this post for 12 years, while also assisting in the Parish of Saint Joseph’s and prior to that Askeaton/Ballysteen. Father Paul has also been chaplain to the Westbourne Convent of Mercy in Limerick City.
The Pontifical Irish College, Rome, was founded on 1 January 1628 by the Irish Franciscan, Father Luke Wadding and the Italian Cardinal, Ludovico Ludovisi. The Pontifical Irish College is located in Via dei Santi Quattro, Rome, see irishcollege.org
The primary function of the College is the formation of seminarians and priests for Ireland as well as the education of clergy from other parts of the world. In addition, the Irish College is home to priests who are studying at post-graduate level.
The College also serves as a centre for Irish pilgrims during the summer holiday months. The Irish College serves as a centre for the Irish community in Rome and as a focal point for Irish culture. Many Irish couples celebrate their weddings at the Irish College each year.
The College is the only surviving example of the large number of Irish seminaries established on the European mainland during the penal law period in Ireland to educate priests for the Irish Church. Past pupils include Saint Oliver Plunkett and Blessed Columba Marmion.