Salthill born Canon to oversee Galway diocese until new bishop is appointed

Canon Michael McLoughlin PP of Moycullen who has been appointed administrator of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora after the resignation of Bishop Martin Drennan. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Canon Michael McLoughlin PP of Moycullen who has been appointed administrator of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora after the resignation of Bishop Martin Drennan. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

A Salthill man who was ordained to the priesthood in 1982 was appointed diocesan administrator earlier this week.

Canon Michael McLoughlin, the parish priest of Moycullen, will oversee the diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, until a successor is appointed to Bishop Martin Drennan. He announced his retirement on Friday on medical grounds. It may take up to a year before a new bishop is appointed.

Canon McLoughlin, who is originally from Dr Mannix Road and who studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College in Thurles, Co Tipperary, was elected diocesan administrator at a meeting of the Diocesan College of Consulters (which comprises the 12 canons of the diocese ) of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora, on Monday. He took up his position immediately.

A diocesan administrator is elected to oversee a diocese when a bishop dies, retires, or resigns, pending the appointment by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, of a new bishop for the diocese. While he has many of the responsibilities of a bishop, he does not have the authority to make significant changes or innovations.

After his election he expressed his gratitude to Bishop Martin Drennan. He acknowledged his “dedicated ministry” to the diocese over the past 11 years and said he was held in “high affection” by both priests and the public. He added that Dr Drennan could rely on their prayerful support in the years ahead.

Bishop Drennan stepped down from his position last Friday with immediate effect. In a statement he said he had given the matter careful thought and had sought and taken advice on the issue.

“I have decided, for medical reasons, to ask the Holy Father to allow me retire from the office of Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and the office of Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora. Pope Francis has most kindly granted this request.”

He said his 11 years as Bishop of Galway were among the happiest and most fulfilling of his life. “When I succeeded Bishop James McLoughlin in 2004, the priests and people of Galway, Mayo and Clare, made me welcome. Since then, your support and kindness, your prayers and your affirmation, have been a real source of strength and inspiration to me. For this I will be forever grateful. It was a privilege to be your Bishop. From deep in my heart I say thank you.”

He stated his retirement takes place during this Holy Year of Mercy and he sincerely asked forgiveness from anyone he may have hurt in any way during his time as bishop.

“I offer my loyalty and my wholehearted support to my successor and I ask you for your continued prayers. You will always be in mine,” he concluded.

In a statement, Fr Diarmuid Hogan, the diocesan spokesperson, said Bishop Drennan would be remembered as an honourable man of calm, dignity, quietness and prayer.

“We have been blessed to have had Bishop Martin Drennan in our diocese as a preacher, writer, teacher and leader, as a man of deep thought and of great integrity. He has been someone on whose word you could rely. He spoke from his heart, his words were wise and thoughtful and he spoke without guile or malice.

“Of course this did not always make him a great politician but he has been an outstanding priest and, in the truest sense of the words, a ‘good shepherd’. Even during his recent bout of ill-health he has been tough and tenacious, always focused and always deeply committed to his duties.

“Hurlers from south-Kilkenny don’t always settle well here in the west but Martin Drennan did. And we are glad he did,” added Fr Hogan.

Martin Drennan was born on January 2 1944 in Piltown, Co Kilkenny. He was educated at Tobernabrone National School and St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny. He studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1968. His brother Michael is also a priest.

Following his ordination he continued his studies in Rome where he was awarded a Licentiate in both sacred theology and sacred scripture.

On his return to Ireland Fr Martin served as curate in both St Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan. From 1975 he taught sacred scripture at St Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become spiritual director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

On his return home he became a lecturer in sacred scripture at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997. His area of pastoral responsibility in that time was East Wicklow and South Dublin.

On the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and apostolic administrator of Kilfenora. He was installed on July 3 2005 in Galway Cathedral.

In the subsequent 11 years, Bishop Drennan instigated and oversaw many initiatives and developments in the diocese including the founding of the Good Shepherd Parish in Doughiska and the reordering of parish boundaries and personnel throughout the diocese in response to changing demographics.

Last year he welcomed Cardinal Sean O’Malley to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the dedication of Galway Cathedral. And in this, his last year as head of the diocese, Bishop Drennan he ordained three men to the priesthood; Fr Michael King who is taking up an appointment as curate in Gort, Fr John O’Halloran who will be a curate in the Good Shepherd Parish and Fr Daniel Gallagher who will be based in Oranmore.

Dr Drennan made a number of diocesan appointments prior to his retirement. These will come into effect at noon on Friday, August 12.

Rt Rev Mgr Malachy Hallinan, PP, Sacred Heart Church, is to be Pastor Emeritus

Very Rev Patrick Canon Callanan retiring as PP, Kilbeacanty is to be appointed administrator of Kilbeacanty

Very Rev Michael Brennan, PP, Lettermore/Rosmuc is to be PP in Bearna

Very Rev Desmond Forde PP, Bearna is to be CC, Ennistymon

Very Rev Barry Hogg, president, St Mary’s College is to go on sabbatical

Rev Gearóid Ó Griofa, CC, Gort is to be to be administrator of Lettermore/Rosmuc

An tAthair Dáithí Ó Murchú, CC, Knocknacarra is to be a chaplain in University Hospital, Galway

Rev Peter Joyce, chaplain, University Hospital, Galway is to be the administrator of Renmore

Rev Alan Burke, administrator, Oughterard is to go on sabbatical

Rev Michael Connolly, CC, Mervue to be PP, Oughterard

Rev Patrick O’Donohue, CC, Good Shepherd Church, to be the chaplain at GMIT to be PP, Clarinbridge

Rev Michael King, CC, Sacred Heart Church to be CC, Gort

Rev John O’Halloran, CC, Renmore to be CC, Good Shepherd

Rev Daniel Gallagher, recently ordained, to be CC, Oranmore with additional diocesan duties

Rev Kevin Keenan, SVD, Adm Clarinbridge, to be PP, Sacred Heart Church

Rev Donal Sweeney, OP, Prior, St Mary’s, The Claddagh to be PP, St Mary’s, The Claddagh.

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