Opening Remarks of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow, 4th August 2013
We come to invoke the Holy Spirit on this priest, Denis Nulty, called to the office of Bishop in the service of this local Church of Kildare and Leighlin. Through the laying on of hands and the Prayer of Consecration the grace of the Holy Spirit will be bestowed on him that he may carry forward the mission of Christ himself as teacher, shepherd and high priest and can act in the person of Christ in a special way.
We come to pray for Denis. This Church of Kildare and Leighlin rejoices as it receives its new Bishop. The entire Church in Ireland joins in this rejoicing. I would like to remember on this day Bishop Jim Moriarity and also to express my special appreciation to Monsignor Brendan Byrne for the manner in which he has led this diocese over these past years, as well as to the priests and lay leaders of this great diocese which has played and continues to play such a significant role in the life of the Church in Ireland.
We celebrate this liturgy on the Feast of Saint John Vianney, patron of priests. A Bishop is not simply a manager or an administrator or a social commentator. He is and remains always a priest and shares in the very fullness of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. The ministry of the Bishop is priestly ministry. The centre and the focal point of a diocese is not the Diocesan Offices, but the Cathedra of the Bishop and the altar of the Cathedral where the bishop exercises his priestly functions and animates the sacramental life of the local Church.
The Second Vatican Council noted that among the principal duties of the bishop the preaching of the Gospel is preeminent. Ireland today needs a renewed and dynamic preaching of the Gospel. We cannot let this Year of Faith pass and still be a weary Church. We cannot remain the Church of yesterday. Pope Francis latest tweet is clear: “The security of faith does not make us motionless or close us off, but sends us forth to bear witness and to dialogue with all people”. We need to seek new paths. We have to Share the Good News with the enthusiasm that good news brings with it.
What is this good news? One of the most quoted phrases of Pope Benedict is to be found in the opening paragraph of his first Encyclical Des Caritas Est: “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”. Taking up those words of Pope Benedict, Denis, your mission as a Bishop is not to moralise or to boast of lofty words, but to witness to others of what your own encounter with Christ means to you in your life and to share that experience with others, especially young people.
Where do we share that good news? Just over a week ago Pope Francis spoke in the Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro to Bishops who had attended World Youth Day. He spoke to them about the mission of the Church, the mission of the Bishop, and about how and where we should be sharing the good news: “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, in our parish or diocesan institutions, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! We have to go out as ones sent. It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome because they come, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! Let us think resolutely about pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church”
My wish for you, Denis, in the days and years to come, is that you will discover ever more deeply the joy that comes from sharing with others what your faith in Jesus Christ means to you and discover the joy that comes through being a member of the community of believers, the Church.
Now together we will renew our commitment to the faith we received in our baptism and ask for the grace of pardon and strength.