Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr Derek Byrne as bishop of the diocese of Guiratinga, Brazil. Fr Byrne belongs to the St. Patrick’s Missionary Society (Kiltegan Fathers).

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Guiratinga is large in area (36,666 square kilometres) but small in population (155,900, of whom 103,400 are Catholics). It has just 16 priests and 53 religious. It is situated about half-way between Brazil’s Federal Capital District of Brasilia and the western border with Bolivia. It is in the Central-West region (Mato Grasso) that has rain forests and is also a significant agricultural area.

Fr. Derek John Christopher Benignus Byrne was born on 17th January 1948 in Monkstown, Co. Dublin. He is the son of the late Christopher Noel Byrne and the late Kathleen Mary Russell and the brother of Gerard Byrne, Monkstown, Co. Dublin.

He attended primary school in St. Joseph’s, Carlow, from 1952 to 1956, CBS Carlow from 1956 to 1958 and Ballinasloe National School, Co. Galway from 1958 to 1960. His secondary schooling took place in Dominican College, Newbridge, Co. Kildare from 1960 to 1965.

In September 1965 he joined St. Patrick’s Missionary Society, Kiltegan, Co. Wicklow. He completed his philosophical studies in Cork where he obtained a BA Degree at University College Cork. On completion of his theological studies at St. Patrick’s College, Kiltegan he was ordained priest on 9th June, 1973.

His first appointment was to Brazil where he worked until 1980. He was then appointed to Society promotion work in the USA and was Society Superior in the USA for 10 years.

Between 1990 and 2002 he served for two terms on the Superior General’s Council in Kiltegan. He returned to Brazil early in 2003 where he was appointed to Juina diocese, Mato Grosso. There he worked as Parish Priest of St. Anthony’s Parish, Castanheira, and as a diocesan consultor.

Fr. Derek will be ordained bishop and take up his new appointment within the next few months.