It was a case of a changing of the guard at the weekend as Bishop Francis Duffy was ordained as the new Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
Well-wishers, clergy, family members and close friends of the Cavan born cleric lined the pews of St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Athlone on Sunday to witness a piece of history being made.
It also brought the curtain down on the 30 year reign of Bishop Colm O’Reilly’s as the Diocese’s most senior churchman.
Cardinal Sean Brady, together with the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and Bishop Colm himself led the service, three months after the name of the new Bishop was announced.
In his address, Bishop Francis told the congregation that the Church had a vital part to play in assisting society’s less well off.
A member of the clergy for the past 31 years, Bishop Duffy vowed to continue with the progress made in a diocese he described as both “modern” and one that has a “long and proud” history.
He also offered prayers for the victims of the recent alleged sex attack in Athlone, their families and their communiities.
Bishop Francis now takes over the 41 parishes in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois that inclues Longford, parts of Cavan and Leitrim as well as areas in Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath.