History was made in Galway on Sunday afternoon with the installation of Catholic Bishop of Clonfert Michael Duignan as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora. For the first time in Ireland, a bishop will serve two Catholic dioceses, which encompass parts of counties Galway, Clare, Mayo, Roscommon and Offaly.
Speaking at the Installation Mass in Galway Cathedral, Bishop Duignan spoke of it as a “moment of transition from the past to the present to the future.”
“We can no longer ignore the fact that much of what the church has built in Ireland over the past two centuries is crumbling before our eyes.”
He added: “The more I see, the more convinced I am that much of our infrastructure, our systems, our pastoral practices that have been beneficial in the past are now hindering rather than helping the lives of faith”.
In Ireland today “many no longer believe the message. Many of our parishes struggle, on so many levels, to sustain a vibrant community of faith. Despite the great work done by generations of priests, religious and laity, sometimes we feel like we’ve been out all night without a single take.
Inevitably, he said, “there will be a real sense of mourning in letting go, but these Easter days tell us that out of such a death comes new hope and new life. Perhaps the Lord is asking us to cast our nets in a different direction – in the direction of a new and profound re-evangelization of ourselves.
It was clear “that in the future we will be a smaller faith community, but with God’s help we will be a more faith-filled, vibrant, welcoming and grounded community,” he said. .
Such a community would live “the message of Jesus in a way that speaks best in equal measure to the lives of our fellow human beings”. He would build “bridges not barriers” and reach out “with compassion to help those in need”.
It would be “a community of faith that is less afraid of those who see life differently from us” and finds “its rightful place within Irish society and an Irish society that finds a fair place for people of faith”, he said. he added.
It would be a community “which is filled with the sound of young voices and which is inspired by their idealism and propelled by their energy” and where “the people, the priests and the bishop walk side by side in a truly synodal way as companions on the great adventure that is the Christian way of life,” he said.