The new Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Fr Francis Duffy, only received word of his impending promotion a week ago, it has emerged.
The County Cavan native was officially unveiled on the steps of St Mel’s College last Wednesday in front of around 100 spectators.
“Two weeks ago I was wondering what pastoral appointment I would get in (the Diocese of) Kilmore. A week ago, I was considering a completely different scenario when Pope Francis, through Archbishop (Charles) Brown, asked me to become Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.”
He used his first official address to heap praise on his predecessor Bishop Colm O’Reilly, who he described as an “inspirational figure,” and he spoke of the many challenges that lie ahead.
Among those he said, remain the ongoing restoration of St Mel’s Cathedral as well as dealing with the country’s unresolved economic situation.
“I know only too well that life has been increasingly difficult for a lot of people and families because of the general economic situation,” he said. “We all have a responsibility to help our neighbour where we can.”
Another, he said, was the need to entice more lay people into the Church as it deals with an ageing clergy and fewer ministerial recruits.
“There are many people engaged in running and adminstering various activities in their parishes.Lay people are the lifeblood of every parish,” he said.
Originally from Templeport, the 55-year-old comes with a wealth of experience, dating back over three decades. Previous spells included teaching stints as principal of Fatima and Felim’s Secondary School in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim and St Patrick’s College, Cavan.
His most recent post was as parish priest in Laragh, Co Cavan where he has remained since 2009. In spite of the announcement, Fr Duffy will not officially take over until his appointment is confirmed at a ceremony later this year.
No official time has been given as to when that may happen, although October has been mentioned as a possible target date.