President Michael D Higgins will be one of the guests of honour this weekend when Galway Cathedral will be packed to capacity for the official installation of its new bishop, Dr Brendan Kelly.
Bishop Kelly will succeed Bishop Martin Drennan in a ceremony that will also be attended by the new Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo. The Nuncio is also to address a conference on faith being held on Saturday by the Franciscan Order — a move that has led to speculation that he may be about to announce the visit to Ireland this summer of Pope Francis.
The ceremony will begin at 3pm and those with tickets for the event are urged to get there early in order to facilitate the seating plan. Media from around the country are expected to cover the event and special arrangements are being put in place to accommodate this.
His Holiness Pope Francis appointed Bishop Brendan Kelly as Bishop of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora on December 11 last in a move that was welcomed by the diocesan community in the west. He is a renowned Gaelic scholar, and elements of Sunday’s ceremony will be conducted as Gaeilge.
His selection as Bishop of Galway will come almost 47 years since he was ordained a priest by Bishop Michael Brown in the same building.
His first appointment was to the parish of Kinvara as a curate before being appointed to the teaching staff of Coláiste Éinde in Salthill in 1972, completing a Higher Diploma in Education in the then UCG (now NUI, Galway ) in 1973.
Bishop Brendan remained on the staff of Coláiste Éinde until 1980 when he was transferred to the teaching staff of Our Lady’s College, Gort, becoming President in 1986.
Following the 1995 amalgamation of the three Gort secondary schools, Bishop Brendan applied for and was granted sabbatical leave from his diocese for one year and went to live with the L’Arche Community at Cuise-la-Motte in France. Founded by Jean Vanier in 1964, the worldwide L’Arche movement seeks to create inclusive, creative and caring families where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work in friendship, joy and mutual respect.
Returning to his diocese in 1996, Bishop Brendan was appointed by Bishop James McLoughlin as Parish Priest of Lisdoonvarna in Co. Clare and subsequently as Parish Priest of An Spidéal in 2003.
On November 20 2007, Bishop Brendan was named by Pope Benedict XVI as the Bishop of Achonry, succeeding recently retired Bishop Thomas Flynn, and on January 27 2008 he was ordained to the episcopate by Cardinal Seán Brady in the Cathedral of the Annunciation and St Nathy in Ballaghaderreen.
On December 11 last Pope Francis, named Bishop Brendan as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora, succeeding Bishop Martin Drennan who retired in July 2016.
Bishop Martin Drennan is bishop emeritus of the diocese, having retired in July of 2016.
Bishop Kelly will take over as leader of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora which includes portions of counties Galway, Mayo and Clare. The diocese has a Catholic population of 108,827 and consists of 40 parishes and 71 churches.
There are 44 diocesan priests in active ministry in the diocese and 28 others who are currently working in other dioceses, retired, on study or on sick leave. Living and working in the diocese, from religious congregations, there are 39 priests, 21 brothers and 219 sisters.
The Bishop of Galway is patron of 85 primary schools, and there are 20 voluntary secondary schools and State schools in the diocese.