Ordination Address of Bishop Denis Nulty
Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow
4th August 2013
The very beautiful story is told of the Curé of Ars, one Fr. John Mary Vianney enquiring the direction of Ars from a group of school children. Initially he struggled to make them understand his question until one of the boys Anthony Givre showed him the way to Ars. “My little friend”, Abbé Vianney said to him “you have shown me the road to Ars, I will show you the road to heaven”. Today a statue marks that spot where the enquiry was made and the direction was given. That was 1818 and it was said then that Abbé Vianney put all his worldly possessions onto a cart, including his bed frame, a clothes chest and a few books! If only moving house, moving parish, moving diocese was as easy 200 years later!
Today is a very special day for me, for my family and for my friends – I thank all of you here in Kildare and Leighlin for the warmth of your hospitality, keeping the tradition of Saint Brigid so alive in this diocese. We didn’t need directions to Carlow this August Bank Holiday weekend. It is rumoured that local hotels were offering a special ordination deal! I thank all of you for being here this day – I speak directly not only to the 750+ here in the Cathedral of the Assumption, but also to those who are watching the proceedings on large screens in the Cathedral Parish Centre and the George Bernard Shaw Theatre in the Visual Arts Centre. Your presence wherever you are is deeply appreciated by me this day. Also a special greeting to those who join us through the live streaming of this ceremony on the internet via iCatholic.ie
I thank especially the chief consecrator Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, assisted by the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and my very good mentor Bishop Michael Smith who as I mentioned three months ago when my appointment was announced: “opened many doors of ministry and opportunity for me in Meath Diocese” . I very much thank Cardinal Seán Brady for his great encouragement and Cardinal Desmond Connell – for gracing us with their presence this afternoon in Carlow. It was very important to me that Bishop Jim Moriarty was the one to present the Crozier during our ordination liturgy: Bishop Jim has been a great shepherd of this Diocese and a great bolster to me in recent weeks. I also thank the other Archbishops and Bishops who join us today – your support and good wishes to me since my appointment is greatly appreciated.
Today is a celebration of all that is good in a Diocese – all that is so enriching in our Church; all who gather today represent all that is good about parish and diocesan life. I thank particularly the priests, the religious and the people of Kildare and Leighlin for the embrace of their welcome over the last few months. Today’s ceremony and celebration alone involves a mammoth team of people in specialised areas such as liturgy, music, stewarding, catering, printing, flower arranging but most importantly accompanying me and walking with me during this time of transition and profound change in my life. The uplifting music, the grace of the liturgy, the decoration of the Cathedral continue a proud Kildare & Leighlin tradition, which speaks volumes to native and visitor alike this day. To everyone I simply say thanks.
Monsignor Brendan Byrne has been a tremendous soul mate for me during this period, for that I am most grateful.
In the homily earlier he spoke of Meath’s link with Kildare & Leighlin. Another connection goes in fact much further back to the first Bishop of Kildare, Conleth – because a certain Erc who was then Bishop of the ancient diocese of Slane assisted at the consecration of Conleth. He was a great friend of Saint Brigid so perhaps the tradition of hospitality and welcome stretch to the very foundation roots of this ecclesiastical territory that has become known today as Kildare & Leighlin! I realise only too well I have so much to learn about this Diocese – about every one of the 56 parishes – and I look forward to visiting each parish, meeting those who keep Saint Brigid’s flame lit in their communities, listening to the young – the young whom Pope Francis left spellbound only a week ago on Copacabana Beach at World Youth Day. His powerful reminder to all young people that “faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared and passed on, so that everyone may know, love and confess Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history” . Kildare and Leighlin have a proud tradition of reaching out to the young through the John Paul II Awards and Meitheál; I will enjoy the expansion and development of these programmes. And lets not forget the Ploughing Championship, a great institution in these parts, I relish meeting so many of you up in Portlaoise next month; I can’t promise you good weather, but I can assure you I’m well use to wearing the wellies!
I mentioned St. John Vianney, the Curé of Ars earlier – his feast day falls this day – August 4th. He is the Patron Saint of Priests. His beautiful icon adorns the prayer space here in the Cathedral and its image is on page 18 of your souvenir booklet. The annual Intercession for Priests commences tomorrow in its 38th Year at All Hallows College. The motto I have chosen is taken from psalm 100 ‘Serve the Lord with Gladness’ . The priesthood is a call, not a career; a way of life, not a job; an identity, not just a role. The word gladness has its roots in gratitude and gratefulness – we serve the Lord because we have so much to be thankful for – we serve the Lord with joy. The best examples of priesthood for me are joyful priests who love their faith and who love the Church. Every priest is a Vocations Director – we priests and people need a renewed vigour about our priesthood and a fresh courage to invite others to respond to that call.
But serving the Lord with gladness is not just the prerogative of the ordained – it is the challenge for us all. How can we serve the Lord with gladness in the struggle of the current economic turmoil so many are experiencing? How can we serve the Lord with gladness when we see fewer priests and greater challenges? How can we serve the Lord with gladness when like in today’s parable society risks storing up treasure for itself in place of making itself rich in the sight of God?
The word serve suggests service and the greatest image of service we have in our Church is rooted in the Holy Thursday Evening Liturgy as Jesus washes His disciples feet – with such an action he turned our world, our expectations, our image of authority upside down – stooping down brings with it an honest humility, a privileged understanding of service. May this model offer the template for me and all of us who strive to lead our Church in 2013.
While the Curé of Ars needed directions, we don’t, we just need one another. And how acutely aware we all are in recent days of that very need of one another as evidenced by the small community of Ballinkillen out the road in Bagnalstown Parish as they surrounded Kathleen Chada and her family after the horrendous loss of Eoghan and Ruairí. Our only role at this time is to extend the comfort of our prayers to all who are in any way affected by this tragedy. Your prayers, your support, your love has carried me over the past three months, kindly hold me in your prayers as I will hold you in mine. Many thanks, Míle Buiochas to one and all.
+ Denis Nulty
Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin
4 August 2013