Monsignor Dermot Farrell was ordained as Bishop of Ossory in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny, on Sunday 11 February. Family and friends of Bishop Farrell joined concelebrating bishops and priests in a packed cathedral for the ceremony.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, was Chief Ordaining Prelate at the ceremony assisted by His Excellency Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Papal Nuncio to Ireland, and Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath. The Apostolic Mandate from His Holiness Pope Francis will be read by Monsignor Michael Ryan, Administrator of the Diocese of Ossory, and the sermon for the Mass was read by Father Dan Cavanagh, Parish Priest of Rosbercon in the Diocese of Ossory.
Welcoming all to the cathedral, Bishop Farrell said, ‘All across the diocese, people have prayed over many months for the selection of a new Bishop. They asked the Lord to help them find someone to lead with vision for our future, understanding for our present and with compassion for our past. This was a sincere prayer for a daunting task. Today, I stand here before you more than aware of my own inadequacies. But you and I also stand before God, who is our hope and our help.’
He continued, ‘The role of a bishop is to be a father to his people, a brother to his priests, and a witness of Jesus Christ to the world. Augustine was not only a great theologian, preacher and administrator; Augustine was also a great pastor. He worked to serve his people, to shepherd them. His whole life as a bishop and teacher, can be summed up when he says “it seems to me that one must bring people back… to the hope of finding the truth.” Today’s Liturgy captures this reality in the phrase “doing what is true.” (John 3:21). Words alone are not enough; love has to show itself in action. That’s the vocation of everyone, particularly of the bishop.
‘The greatest day in the life a bishop is not his ordination, but his baptism, the day of his mission to live the Christian life in obedience to the gospel. Laity, bishops and priests share in the one baptism and the one mission to witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ. The success of this mission rests in God. Like Mary, the Mother of the Lord, we have to find our place in God’s story. I entrust my episcopal ministry, from its very beginning today, to the motherly care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and patroness of this Cathedral.
Bishop Farrell continued, ‘Today is Mother’s Day. It is a particular joy that my own mother, Carmel, is with us here today. I thank God for the gift that she has been to me, and to my sisters and brother all throughout our lives. She and my late father, Dermot, gave us our lives, and life itself — the most precious gift of all. I give thanks to God for this ultimate gift without which nothing else is possible.
‘In these days we are all very aware of the need to protect the life of every child in the womb. There is no such thing as a human life that has no value. However it is paradoxical and in some ways the ultimate delusion—to extinguish this most fundamental right of all, the right to life of the innocent child, in the name of personal and civil rights. May the Lord open our eyes to see the image of God in every child, at every stage of their lives.’
He concluded his address by saying, ‘For almost 38 years I have been a priest of the Diocese of Meath. To have been a priest in that that diocese is a matter of great pride for me. Those priests who have faithfully served and are serving there taught me how to be a priest. I count on your prayers in the years ahead. I welcome the priests, religious, and laity of the Diocese of Ossory. I look forward to your ongoing collaboration and support as we continue to serve the people of our Diocese. Let us never forget that the Holy Spirit dwells deeply in the heart of every person (see Rom 8:15, Gal 4:6). May we live out of this mystery! May the Holy Spirit make of us a temple of living stones (1Pet 2:5), the Body of Christ throughout the world (1Cor 12:27). May God who has begun this good work in us bring it to completion.’
Bishop Farrell was born in November 1954 in the Castletown-Geoghegan Parish, Co. Westmeath, in the Diocese of Meath. Following studies in Saint Patricks College, Maynooth, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Meath in June 1980. Bishop Farrell served as curate at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar before returning to studies in the Gregorian University in Rome.
In 1987, Bishop Farrell served as Director of Formation in the Irish College in Rome, and in 1990 as Executive Assistant to the President of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He was appointed Vice-President of the College in 1993 and served as President from 1996 to 2007. In 2006 he was given the title of Honorary Prelate of His Holiness. From 2007 until present Bishop Farrell served as Parish Priest of Dunboyne and Kilbride.
The full text of Bishop Dermot Farrell’s address can be found on www.catholicbishops.ie.