Newly appointed Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois Francis Duffy believes the Church has a vital role to play in helping those worst affected by the recession.
In his address to a congregation of around 600 people at Athlone’s St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on Sunday, Bishop Francis said the power of prayer and togetherness would be important tools in lifting national spirits.
His Episcopal motto from Saint John’s Gospel, ‘I have come that they may have life’, bore testament to this, he told onlookers.
“When I think of life I think of the great ability we can have to lift hearts and especially the hearts of those who are in dark places, maybe facing difficult choices or feeling abandoned, alone or of little worth or struggling financially, as many are,” he pointed out.
Officially named as Bishop Colm O’Reilly’s successor in July, the 55-year-old cleric said he was very much aware of the shoes his namesake, Pope Francis, had asked him to fill.
The weeks and months ahead, he admitted, were likely to involve much engagement with priests, clergy and parishioners in an effort to become more accustomed to a diocese straddling seven counties.
“I am conscious that I am following in the footsteps of a very caring and pastoral leader,” he continued.
“I am conscious that I need to listen, and to engage with, the people, priests and religious so that together and with God’s help we can continue to build up the ‘People of God’ in Ardagh and Clonmacnois.”
The ceremony took place in St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Athlone due to the fact that St Mel’s Cathedral was unavailable.
Bishop Francis offered prayers for the victims of a recent alleged sex attack in Athlone, and their families.
“Today too I remember and share the country’s shock and revulsion concerning the attacks on two innocent children here in this town as they played last weekend.
“My prayer today is for the young victims, their families and local communities.”
The newly ordained Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois concluded :
“Saint Mel, pray for us. Saint Ciarán, pray for us.”