Pope Francis has today accepted the resignation of Bishop Seamus Freeman SAC, Bishop of Ossory, on grounds of ill health. The announcement was made in Rome at 12.00pm today (11.00am Irish time).
Commenting on his retirement Bishop Freeman said, “I am pleased that the Holy Father has accepted my early retirement from 11.00am today, and I thank him for his kindness to me.
“Since suffering a stroke in September 2013, I have continued to serve the good people of God, entrusted to my care as bishop, to the best of my ability. It was my hope that I would continue my episcopal service until the retirement age of 75 years. However, due to ill health, for some time now I have found my ministry as bishop to be somewhat of a challenge. Therefore after prayerful reflection and with a sense of sadness, I came to my decision to retire, as I have been very happy and blessed amongst you, the good people, priests and religious of the Diocese of Ossory. However, with God’s help, I am confident that I have made the right decision. As you and I know, with God on our side who can be against us? If God is for us, who is against us (Romans 8:31).
“I thank the good Lord for bestowing on me the grace to serve Him, to serve His Church, and to serve you, His people. I must say for me it was a great privilege and a tremendous joy to have served you as your bishop. Throughout my entire life, and in particular when difficult decisions had to be made during my time as bishop, I have always endeavoured to deal with the people of God with a deep sense of dignity and respect, in accordance with the true spirit of the Gospel. It is my hope, and indeed it is my fervent prayer, despite my limitations, that I have served you well”.
Bishop Freeman continued with some words of thanks, “I thank the many priests of the diocese for their service, for their personal support and for the solidarity they have shown to me during my episcopal service. I thank the women and men of consecrated life for their apostolic service in our diocese and for their support and kindness in my service as bishop.
“I extend my deepest gratitude to the people of Ossory whom I have served for almost nine years. I continue to be overwhelmed, and indeed very much humbled, by the kindness and absolute goodness shown to me by the good people of God during that time and, in particular, the kindness and prayerful good wishes I have received in recent times.
“I thank my brother bishops for their support and for their solidarity during my episcopal service.
“I thank my work family, the staff at the Diocesan Office and at Blessed Felix House, for their true friendship, for their kindness and for their loyalty to me. It has been such a joyous experience to have shared the journey with you. And finally, I thank my own family for their support and for their continued presence in my life, particularly over the past number of years”.
Bishop Freeman concluded, “With the help of God I hope to continue, albeit in a different way, to serve the good Lord and His people to the best of my ability by living and proclaiming His Gospel. Please be assured of my prayers and I respectfully ask for yours.
“Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Apostles, pray for us. Thank you and God bless you, good people of Ossory.”
Commenting on today’s announcement Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh, said, “Bishop Freeman’s input at the Episcopal Conference since 2007 was another valuable resource for the bishops because of his long experience in worldwide leadership of the Pallotine Order and his work as a parish priest in Rome. Bishop Freeman’s interest in the areas of pastoral renewal and faith formation was an indication of his faithfulness to the new evangelization in this country. I wish God’s blessing on Bishop Freeman in his retirement and assure him of my prayers for his good health.”
Bishop Séamus Freeman was ordained a priest for the Society of Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines) in Thurles, Co Tipperary on 12 June 1971. Having served as Personal Secretary to the Superior General of his Society, he was elected as a Member of the Council of the Irish Province of the Society and then as Rector General of the Society worldwide in 1992, a post to which he was re-elected in 1998. He was ordained Bishop of Ossory on Sunday 2 December 2007 in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Kilkenny.
Bishop Freeman’s episcopal ministry saw him serve as a Member of the Standing Committee, Member of the Episcopal Commission for Worship, Chair of the Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development, Member of the Council for Religious, Joint Council for Religious of the IEC and CORI.