Pope Francis has appointed Canon Tom Deenihan, diocesan secretary of the Diocese of Cork & Ross, as the new Bishop of Meath. The announcement was made following Mass this morning in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, by His Excellency, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Papal Nuncio to Ireland, who was joined for the celebration by Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, and Bishop-elect Tom Deenihan. They were joined by an estimated 40 priests from accross the Diocese of Meath for the occasion.
Welcoming the appointment, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and president of the Irish Bishops’ Conference said, ‘I warmly welcome the appointment today by Pope Francis of Canon Thomas Deenihan (Cork & Ross) as Bishop of the historic diocese of Meath, which is situated in the metropolitan province of Armagh. I offer my sincere congratulations and prayerful support to Bishop-elect Deenihan on what is a joyous day for him, his family and friends, and for the faithful of the 69 parishes of Meath.
Archbishop Martin also paid tribute to Bishop Michael Smith saying, ‘On this day I also wish to express my deep gratitude to Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop Emeritus of Meath, the longest serving bishop in Ireland. For almost fifty years, Bishop Smith has made an outstanding contribution to the work of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference … He is highly respected by his brother bishops, and, as a relative newcomer to the Conference myself, I have valued highly his contributions and his warm personal encouragement.’
The announcement was also welcomed by Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork & Ross who said, ‘Over the past 27 years of his priesthood, Canon Tom Deenihan has held a variety of appointments that have prepared him well for his new duties as Bishop of the historic Diocese of Meath. He is a man of strong faith, good judgement, very committed to his priestly duties and fully realising that our lives as priests can only be sustained by prayer.
He added, ‘As his Bishop, I am very grateful to him for his knowledgeable and respectful service to me and to the Diocese. I wish Canon Tom every joy, blessing and happiness in his new role as Bishop of Meath.’
Bishop Michael Smith of Meath also welcomed the appointment saying, ‘I warmly welcome today’s appointment by the Holy Father Pope Francis of Canon Tom Deenihan of the Diocese of Cork & Ross as the Bishop of Meath.
‘I can assure Canon Tom that he will receive a warm welcome in the Diocese of Meath, where it has been my privilege to serve as Bishop among the priests, religious and lay people.
He added, ‘I believe his appointment will greatly benefit the Church in the Diocese of Meath and will also contribute significantly to the work of the Irish Episcopal Conference and its commissions and agencies.
‘I offer my prayerful good wishes to Canon Tom and to the members of his family. I pray God’s blessing on him as he takes up this new ministry and I assure him of my prayers.’
The full text of the bishops’ welcomes can be found on www.catholicbishops.ie.
Speaking at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar this morning, Bishop-elect Deenihan said, ‘A time of a new bishop is a time of uncertainty. In my current Diocese, we are waiting for a new bishop too. But while a diocese and a bishop are important, the reality for the people that we serve is that the parish and the local parish clergy are what matter. In that sense, a bishop, I believe, must support and be with the priests of a Diocese. Our own image of Church and, for those of us who are ordained, the seed of our vocation, depended very much on the priests that we encountered.’
He concluded his address saying, ‘I am conscious of the trust and responsibility placed on me and I pray that I will fulfil it. May God reward you. I ask you to remember me in your prayers and may we all seek to do God’s will in the months and years ahead.’
Bishop-elect Deenihan was ordained a deacon by Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath, in Maynooth on 1 April 1990. On 1 June 1991 he was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Cork & Ross by the late Bishop Michael Murphy.
Canon Deenihan previously worked in Glanmire Parish, as well as in the parishes of Schull, Kealkil and Bantry, and taught in Saint Goban’s College, Bantry. In 2003, Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork & Ross, appointed him as Diocesan Advisor for Post-Primary Catechetics and, in 2006, as Diocesan Secretary and Diocesan Education Secretary. From October 2013, Canon Deenihan served as General Secretary of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association, and from 2016 as acting-executive secretary to the Council for Education and to the Commission for Catholic Education and Formation of the Irish Episcopal Conference.
For more information and the full text of Bishop-elect Deenihan’s address can be found on www.catholicbishops.ie.