Pope Francis today appointed Bishop Brendan Kelly as the Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora. The announcement was made by Monsignor Piotr Tarnawski of the Nunciature of Ireland this morning in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas in Galway city.
Bishop Kelly is a native of Galway diocese. He was born in Derrybrien in the parish of Ballinakill, Co Galway on 20 May 1946, the second of nine children. Following studies in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, he was ordained a priest of the diocese of Galway in 1971 by then bishop, Michael Browne, where he served as both priest and teacher. He was appointed Bishop of Achonry by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, and was ordained bishop by Cardinal Seán Brady in the Cathedral of the Annunciation and Saint Nathy in Ballaghaderreen.
Welcoming the appointment, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said, ‘I wish to offer my warmest congratulations and prayerful support to Bishop Brendan Kelly for his generous acceptance of a new episcopal appointment.
‘Bishop Brendan’s ten years of pastoral service as Bishop of Achonry have been characterised by a natural warmth and empathy towards the people, priests and religious of the diocese, and a gentle, prayerful and caring leadership.’
He continued, ‘Now he returns to his roots! As a native of Craughwell, and a priest of longstanding, dedicated service in the diocese of Galway, Bishop Brendan will no doubt receive a wholehearted welcome home from the clergy and faithful of his native diocese. He returns with the benefit of new wisdom and experience garnered among the faithful people of Achonry.’
Archbishop Martin concluded, ‘May Saint Colman, Saint Fachanan and Our Lady Assumed into Heaven guide Bishop Brendan in his new role in Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.
‘Guím gach rath Dé air agus ar a chuid saothair.’
Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, also offered warm congratulations to Bishop Kelly, saying, ‘Bishop Brendan was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Galway in 1971 and will now return as its bishop. As both priest and bishop, Bishop Brendan has been a much loved local pastor and a very popular shepherd to the faithful of Achonry since his ordination as bishop on 27 January 2008. His personal integrity, generosity of spirit and outstanding ministry to the people of the diocese will surely be missed. No doubt he will bring the same natural enthusiasm and pastoral leadership to the people of his diocese of origin in Galway.’
He concluded, ‘On this special day for the diocese and for the country, I ask the faithful to join with me in prayer to ask the Lord to guide and bless Bishop Brendan as he undertakes his new and important Episcopal appointment.’
The appointment was also welcomed by Canon Michael McLoughlin, Diocesan Administrator of Galway Diocese, and Monsignor Thomas Johnston, Vicar-General in the Diocese of Achonry.
Speaking at the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas in Galway city, Bishop Brendan Kelly said, ‘I am still somewhat in shock. Having settled happily in Achonry, I never expected I never expected to be asked to take on the shepherding of another diocese. However, the fact that it is my own native diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora makes it much easier to say yes to this appointment with which Pope Francis has chosen to honour me. I am very grateful to the Holy Father for his trust. And it is good to be coming home.’
Bishop Kelly continued, ‘It is now over 10 years since I was appointed by Pope Benedict as Bishop of Achonry. I have been very happy in Ballaghaderreen. I am deeply grateful first of all to the priests of the Achonry diocese. Their welcome to me from the beginning was entirely generous and warm. I believe we have worked together well. I want to thank them with all my heart for their constant support, kindness and acceptance of all I asked of them. I will miss them, but I believe the bonds of friendship and fraternity will endure and continue to sustain me.
‘From the start, the welcome and acceptance I experienced from the people of Achonry, including the Religious, has been warm and generous, too. It has been a grace from God to serve them and I trust they will continue to carry me in prayer as I will them. There are those then who worked with me on a daily basis in Achonry. I owe them a special debt of gratitude. I thank them and will miss them.
‘Now as I stand here in this beautiful Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St. Nicholas, I am conscious of all that lies ahead. I look forward to working again with the priests of Galway diocese, colleagues since the day I was ordained up to the time I left here 10 years ago. Many of you have been good friends to me for years. And I am thinking today with deep gratitude to God of so many of them atá imithe ar shlí na fírinne, great mentors and friends.’
Bishop Kelly concluded, ‘Finally, mo bhuíochas ó chroí daoibh ar fad as bheith anseo ar maidin. Please pray for me that I may give my life as Jesus did in service of you, his people.’
The full statements welcoming Bishop Kelly’s appointments, as well as Bishop Kelly’s words at this morning’s Mass in the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and Saint Nicholas can be found on www.catholicbishops.ie.