Last November, we heard from the Papal Nuncio that it was the intention of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to appoint one bishop for two dioceses – the Diocese of Clonfert and the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora. In the meantime, we have had a series of meetings of the priests of our diocese and representatives of parish councils, parish finance councils, key parishioners and our diocesan committees to discuss our future. There was a general consensus that the arrangement proposed whereby both dioceses would remain as they are but would cooperate under the guidance of one Bishop would bring benefits to all involved.
Today, Pope Francis has made two important formal announcements in this regard.
- The Diocese of Clonfert and the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, while preserving their individual identities, are to be cared for through the ministry of one Bishop and
(2) that one bishop is to be me.
As you can appreciate this is a historic day for our dioceses and a significant one for me personally. Since I came to Clonfert in October 2019 – despite the hindrances of the dark days of the pandemic – I have been welcomed by kind-hearted, generous people and priests. I am delighted therefore, to continue to journey with you in Clonfert. I now look forward to meeting and getting to know the priests and people of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora and beginning my journey with them also.
Over the next months and years, there is much to be worked out and we will work it out together. It will require patience and generosity from all of us, from our parish communities and our dioceses. It will mean both listening to each other and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. In the process, we are called to prayerfully discern how we, as a people of faith, are to walk together into the future. A future that will require all of us – bishop, priests, religious and laity to work shoulder to shoulder, to renew in our own hearts a lively sense that life is better not worse when lived with Christ. With our hearts renewed, perhaps our greatest challenge will be to respectfully show forth in deed and word the value of knowing Christ. To unlock the life-changing potential of the Gospel, especially for those who lie hurt and broken, feeling rejected, on the edges of our church and our society.
Today, I ask you to pray for the Diocese of Clonfert and the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora– our people, priests, religious and all those men and women of good will who find a home here. Pray for me, that in spite of my weakness, God may strengthen me for the task ahead. Pray that we may make good companions on the journey and that our future will be blessed because we, together with Christ, have travelled on the “Way” (Jn 14:6)
St Brendan, Pray for us!
Our Lady of Clonfert, Pray for us!
+ Michael Duignan
Bishop of Clonfert
Bishop-elect of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora