Welcome address by Monsignor Brendan Byrne

Diocesan Administrator

I would like to welcome everyone here today. It has just been announced in the Vatican that our Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed Fr Denis Nulty of the Diocese of Meath as our new Bishop, here in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin.

On behalf of the people, religious and priests of the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, I want to express our sincere gratitude to Pope Francis.

As everyone is well aware, this day was long-awaited and we are joyful now to greet our Bishop-Elect and to extend to him our congratulations and warmest welcome. We also welcome here today Bishop Jim Moriarty, our retired Bishop, and Bishop Michael Smith of Meath.

St Brigid of Kildare, the patron saint of our diocese, was renowned for her hospitality. We remain inspired by how she invited people in and cared for them and how her community honoured the beautiful presence of Christ among us.

I would like to assure you, Fr Denis, that, likewise, we will do all we can to welcome you into our community of faith, recognising the great responsibility that has been entrusted to you.

Fr Denis is a native of Slane, where St Patrick lit the Easter fire. We welcome him to this diocese where in ancient days Brigid lit the fire of Christ in Kildare and Laserian (Molaise) nurtured that same flame of faith in Leighlin.

Fr Denis brings with him twenty-five years of pastoral experience from his appointments in the Cathedral Parish in Mullingar and in St. Mary’s Drogheda where he has served as Parish Priest for the last fifteen years. At the time of his appointment to Drogheda, he was the youngest Parish Priest in the country. We should now credit Bishop Smith for his foresight, as Fr Denis will soon become the youngest Bishop in the country.

We should also express our thanks to the Diocese of Meath for providing our new Bishop. They have sent us their tallest priest. While this guarantees that we will all look up to our new Bishop, we look forward to sharing that deeper bond in which we will ‘see eye to eye’, and know ourselves truly to be brothers and sisters in Christ.

When Pope Benedict relinquished the Papacy earlier this year, it sent a powerful signal about humility, embracing a new departure for the good of the Church. It is now three years since Bishop Moriarty, with similar humility, stepped down from office here in Kildare & Leighlin and expressed the hope that it would open the way to a better future for all concerned.

With gratitude for all they both have done, we now celebrate with Easter faith and joy this new beginning for our faith community here in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin.

We welcome you, Fr Denis, as our Bishop-Elect and invite you to address us.

Statement by Bishop Jim Moriarty

Retired Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin

I warmly welcome today’s appointment by our Holy Father Pope Francis of Fr Denis Nulty of the Diocese of Meath as the Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin.

I can assure him that the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin is full of warm welcomes and it is blessed in its great numbers of faithful and gifted people.

Over the past three years, the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin has been very ably administered by Monsignor Brendan Byrne and it is right to also acknowledge his service on this special day.

I join with the people, religious and priests of the diocese in praying for Fr Nulty as he takes up his new responsibility and ask God’s blessings on him and on the diocese in this Easter time of renewal.

Statement by Cardinal Seán Brady

“I congratulate Father Denis Nulty, from Meath Diocese, on his appointment by Pope Francis today as Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.

“I wish Father Nulty many blessings as he takes on his new ministry amongst the people of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin – the home of Saint Brigid, and a place of vibrant faith today.

“I have no doubt that Father Nulty will receive a warm welcome in his new diocese and that he can count on the prayers of the people of the diocese. I am sure too that he will take with him the prayers and good wishes of the people of the diocese of Meath, where he has served faithfully since his ordination.

“Today I also wish to acknowledge the contribution of Monsignor Brendan Byrne to the Bishops’ Conference since his appointment as Diocesan Administrator in 2010.”

Statement by Bishop Michael Smith

Bishop of the Diocese of Meath

I warmly welcome the announcement today that Pope Francis has appointed Fr Denis Nulty, PP VF of St. Mary’s parish Drogheda in the Diocese of Meath as Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin. Fr Denis brings many gifts to the task of being chief shepherd of Kildare and Leighlin.

His leaving us leaves a deep void since his contribution to the mission of faith in the Diocese went far beyond his own parish. He has at all times brought to his priestly ministry great dedication, commitment and wisdom both during his ten years in the Cathedral parish, Mullingar and since 1998 as Parish Priest of St Mary’s. Fr Denis became Ireland’s youngest parish priest at the time of his appointment to St Mary’s, a large and expanding parish. He brings to his ministry intelligence and approachability, rooted in a deep faith, that was appreciated by all who crossed his path.

I have every confidence that he will fulfil his new ministry with the same dedication and commitment that has characterised his priestly life. He goes with the prayers and good wishes of all of us, priests and people.

Address by Fr. Denis Nulty

I would like to thank all of you for your welcome this Tuesday morning – Bishop Moriarty, Bishop Smith, Monsignor Byrne, brother priests, religious sisters & brothers, parishioners of Carlow & people of the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin. I thank His Excellency, Archbishop Charles Brown for his accompanying me in recent days. I thank Monsignor Brendan Byrne for the graciousness of his hospitality, his kindly support to me personally and his unstinting care for the Diocese over the past three years. I equally thank my predecessor Bishop Emeritus Jim Moriarty who is delightfully with us this morning for his very fine stewardship of the diocese during his tenure and I wish him continued happiness and blessings in the years ahead.

A line from the first psalm of Morning Prayer this morning reads: “O send forth your light and your truth; let these be my guide. Let them bring me to your holy mountain to the place where you dwell”.

I am honoured, privileged and humbled to be chosen by Pope Francis to be bishop for and with the people and priests of this superb Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin. I come from Slane, where the story of faith on Irish soil began when St. Patrick lit the fire and used the shamrock to teach us about God – Father, Son & Holy Spirit. This diocese too has its own strong symbol of our faith in the St. Brigid’s Cross. I was ordained for the Diocese of Meath, and Bishop Michael Smith who stands beside me today, opened many doors of ministry to me in the Diocese. For that and much more, I am eternally grateful to him. I have enjoyed my time immensely in Meath and there is a sense of sadness in leaving colleagues and friends, even if it’s only down the road. While there is an excitement around new beginnings there is also a nervousness around the challenges that lie ahead. I have been understandably anxious in recent days since my meeting with Archbishop Charles Brown – an anxiety that has been eased by grace – the gentle grace of acceptance; the grace of responding to that call; the grace of the prayers of our friends in heaven; the grace of trusting in the judgement of others – a judgement that suggests I have a capability greater than I feel myself to have.

This morning I have travelled from the mouth of the Boyne at Drogheda where she eases herself into the Irish Sea, to the Diocese where that winding ribbon finds its source in the spring at Carbury in County Kildare! Rivers were an essential part of the story of the early Church for life and communications in travel – the Barrow is to Kildare and Leighlin what the Boyne is to Meath. In this Year of Faith the Boyne and the Barrow remind us of the life-giving water of baptism. They also remind us that today so many people are thirsting for the water of new life and hope – those living in negative equity in the commuter belt; those coping with the stress of the daily treadmill; those out of work searching for a deeper appreciation of their self-worth and dignity; farmers coping with the fodder crisis and late spring, how much that life is needed – may each find solace and support in this hour. I am equally conscious this morning of those who have been wounded by the church and the terrible sins of individuals who should have brought life, but instead inflicted pain and destruction on too many.

Water speaks of life and life is precious and dear to us at all levels and particularly in our times, human life – its giftedness and sacredness. And what a message last Saturday’s National Prayer Vigil offered at Knock: Cherish them Both – Mother & Child. Monsignor Brendan Byrnes statement in the lead up to the vigil very eloquently reminded us: “a life is a life. Whatever happens, the need to respect that life should never be reduced to a ‘choice’ or an arbitrary timeline” . Mothers deserve nothing less than the best medical and psychiatric care available, especially during pregnancy when the lives of two persons – the life of the unborn and the life of the mother – are at stake. As the Bishops’ preliminary response to the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 last Friday reminded us; “The Gospel of life is at the heart of the message of Jesus: the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always morally wrong” .

I come today to the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin as a Priest who has been immersed in parish life since Ordination. My first ten years were in the Cathedral Parish in Mullingar. For the past fifteen years I have been Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Parish, Drogheda. They have been a very rewarding and enriching twenty-five years, during which I have been taught so much about being a Priest among People in the struggles and the joys of ordinary life. From the Church of the Assumption at St. Mary’s in Drogheda I find myself today at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow. I am a priest who works earnestly, who loves the priesthood and loves working with priests and people. But I am a priest who needs to learn a great deal about the story of this diocese, its geography, its people, its priests, its traditions and its history – be patient with me as I embark on a journey that will take me to every parish in this Diocese, to listen to the Spirit speaking through the faith and example of committed priests and parishioners. I know there is dedicated involvement of laity at many layers of church life. I come to support this engagement. I come to listen to the conversation of faith in the Diocese. I come to care for priests, to encourage seminarians and to support the faith growth of the young, who may feel at times isolated or on the fringe. For many priests these are difficult days as they see their number grow perhaps older and fewer and the demands heavier – let us work together to encourage vocations and to develop collaborative ministry.

It only remains for me to thank all of you for being here today, and to invite you to do what Pope Francis did as he made his first appearance on the balcony at St. Peters; to ask you to implore a blessing on me … and together let us pray the Prayer of St. Francis:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,

Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life” .

St. Brigid, pray for us …

St. Conleth, pray for us …

St. Laserian, pray for us …

Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us …