Faith Matters

Lay people must be more involved, says Bishop-elect

Bishop-elect Martin Hayes addressing parishioners on his appointment as Bishop of Kilmore at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick and Saint Felim in Cavan on Monday, as lockdown eased to allow places of worship to reopen. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

THE Catholic Church of the future must increase the involvement of lay people, the newly-appointed Bishop of Kilmore has said.

Fr Martin Hayes, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, was named this week by Pope Francis as the new leader of Kilmore diocese, which includes parishes in Fermanagh.

Speaking in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick and Saint Felim in Cavan on Monday, the Bishop-elect said he was aware that the diocese had already invested much time in pastoral planning and "the efforts to respond in changing times with a mission that can be effective and relevant".

"The Church of the future is about the increased involvement of lay people; of people and priests working together," he said.

"My brief, initially, will be to listen, learn and perhaps draw upon my recent experience with others of pastoral planning in Cashel and Emly.

"My hope and prayer is that we can work together here in Kilmore with the help of the good Lord to nurture the faith and continue to ensure a place of welcome and hospitality for all.

"In accord with Pope Francis's image of 'Church as a field hospital', may we be a refuge of healing and encouragement with space for all who are searching for meaning, especially, as we emerge tentatively from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic."

Fr Hayes grew up in the parish of Moycarkey, Littleton and Two-Mile-Borris near Thurles, Co Tipperary.

He worked in engineering before entering seminary at St Patrick's College, Thurles.

He was ordained to the priesthood in 1989 and later studied in Rome at the Gregorian University.

Posts at St Patrick's College, Thurles followed and he entered parish ministry in 2002. In 2017 he was appointed director of pastoral planning and development in Cashel and Emly.

Kilmore diocese, which consists of 35 parishes, is large and with unusual boundaries.

It stretches from Kilmainhamwood in Meath to Tullaghan on Leitrim's Atlantic coastline. It includes virtually all of Cavan, half of Leitrim and portions of Fermanagh, Meath and Sligo.

Fr Hayes will succeed Bishop Leo O'Reilly, who retired at the end of 2018. Monsignor Liam Kelly has been diocesan administrator since then.

A date for the bishop-elect's episcopal ordination has not yet been announced.

Bishop-elect Martin Hayes, pictured left, addressing parishioners alongside Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, on his appointment as Bishop of Kilmore at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick and Saint Felim in Cavan on Monday, as lockdown eased to allow places of worship to reopen. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA Wire

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