Bishop Michael Router was ordained on Sunday as Auxiliary Bishop of Armagh in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
Bishop Michael is a native of Virginia in Co. Cavan and was born on 15 April 1965. He was educated in Virginia National School and in Kells C.B.S. before entering Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, to study for the priesthood in 1982. Bishop Michael was ordained to the diaconate in the Maynooth College Chapel by Bishop Francis McKiernan, the Bishop of Kilmore, in 1987 and he was ordained as a priest for the Diocese of Kilmore in Saint Matthew’s Church, Maghera, in his native parish, on 25 June, 1989.
Bishop Michael began his ministry as a curate in the parish of Killinkere and in 1991 he joined the teaching staff of Saint Patrick’s College, Cavan, where he taught English, Geography and Religion. He graduated with a Masters in Religion and Education from Mater Dei in 2003. On his return to the Diocese of Kilmore, Bishop Michael was appointed the Diocesan Director of Adult Faith Formation and Pastoral Renewal while also serving as a Priest in Residence in the parish of Castletara/Ballyhaise. In 2010 he was appointed director of the Diocesan Pastoral Centre and in 2013 he was transferred as Curate to the Cathedral Parish in Cavan with responsibility for the Butlersbridge area. In 2014 he was appointed to his present position as Parish Priest of Killann Parish, which includes the towns of Bailieborough and Shercock, and as Vicar Forane for the Bailieborough Deanery.
At the ordination ceremony, Archbishop Eamon Martin was the Principal Consecrator. Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland and Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Bishop Emeritus of Kilmore Diocese were the co-consecrators.
Speaking after his consecration, Bishop Michael said, “It is truly an honour for me today to join the clergy and people of the Archdiocese of Armagh, the primatial see of Ireland founded by our patron, Saint Patrick. His successor, Archbishop Eamon Martin, has been most welcoming and helpful to me since my appointment was announced last May. Archbishop Eamon I thank you for your thought provoking and challenging sermon today and for all your kindness and hospitality. I look forward to assisting you in whatever way I can in the years ahead.”
Bishop Michael also thanked Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, and Cardinal Seán Brady for their presence at the ceremony and for their support over the weeks leading up to his ordination.
Thanking his family, Bishop Michael said “The most supportive and loving people in my life are, of course, my parents Tony and Nora and my sisters Breda and Martina, my brothers in law, Derek and Ollie, my nieces and nephews and all my family circle. I know I am blessed by God to have my parents here with me today I thank them for all they have contributed to my life thus far. Especially for their witness to fidelity and love over 57 years of married life together and the support they have given me during my 30 years of priestly ministry.”
Speaking on his experience of the Church in Ireland, Bishop Michael said, “The welcome that I have experienced in every faith community where I have ever lived or worked in Kilmore, and which I have received here in Armagh, over the past two months has left me with a very strong appreciation of the goodness and faith of so many people. Members of the Church, both lay and clerical, have given hope, courage and strength to so many down through the years and provided a sense of identity, pride and community for millions of Irish people at home and abroad.
“I am, however, sharply aware that some people do not share the same positive experience of Church that I have. The institutional Church in this country, from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century did not adequately challenge the social divide that existed in society. Despite the pioneering work of many Church personnel in the fields of education and healthcare, it did not adequately defend, in the way it should have done, the rights of the poor and vulnerable. The Irish Church’s mistakes and failures have caused deep hurt and pain to many people and we must remember and acknowledge that, while we celebrate here today, many people have turned their backs to us and walked away.”
He continued, “The fact that the Church has been stripped of its former power and prestige is not a negative thing. The Church will be smaller and humbler in the future but those who are involved, who practice regularly, who volunteer their time, energy and resources to support the mission will not be doing it for any social or economic advantage but because they want to; because they see that life has no meaning without Jesus Christ at its centre. The quest for meaning, such a central issue in the modern world, will always bring people back to the faith.”
In conclusion, Bishop Michael said “Finally, I am heartened by the words from today’s second reading from The Letter to the Hebrews – “Every high priest…lives in the limitation of weakness”. Even though I am very conscious of my own weakness and limitations I abandon myself to God’s will and I call on the power of his Holy Spirit to guide and inspire me in the years ahead. That is why I have chosen as my motto “In Manus Tuas Domine” – “Into your hands, O Lord”. I know that the Lord’s help, support and encouragement will come through all of you here present and through the people and priests of this great Archdiocese who I have been called to learn from and work with in the future. Remember me in your prayers as I will remember you in mine.
“St. Patrick, pray for us, St. Brigid, pray for us, Saint Benan, pray for us, St Malachy, pray for us, St. Oliver Plunkett, pray for us.”