LIMERICK’s three year wait for a new bishop came to an end yesterday as Dubliner Fr Brendan Leahy was ordained in St John’s Cathedral.
Close to 1200 invited guests packed into the cathedral to see Fr Leahy ordained the 47th bishop of Limerick, filling the role vacated by Donal Murray - who was at the ceremony - in December 2009.
In his address the newly ordained Bishop Leahy said he was “now a Limerick man”.
“Limerick is beautiful and each of us has a chance to make it more beautiful,” he said, adding: “I’ll have to start wearing the colours and supporting the teams.”
Quoting lyrics from U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Bishop Leahy said: “I don’t know what Bono had in mind but these words can be applied to the situation many find themselves in with regard to faith”.
“Moments of difficulty are written into the Christian journey of faith,” he said.
In his address he made reference to recent issues troubling the Church.
“We know only too well of how many innocent people suffer terrible darkness because of clerical abuse. I want to make their pain my own and seek forgiveness seventy times seven. It is a deep wound also for all of us.
“I have been greatly consoled in getting to know how much has been done in the diocese in the area of child safeguarding. I am deeply indebted to the high professionalism of the many lay men and women involved in our diocesan structures in this regard as in many areas of the diocese,” he added.
The new Bishop was accompanied to the ceremony by his 91-year old father Maurice, who taught in Athea for a year in the 1940s and said he was “deeply proud” of his son. Bishop Leahy’s sisters Maire and Teresa and brother Tom were also in attendance.
Chief celebrant Archbishop of Cashel and Emly Dermot Clifford said Limerick had been “very patient” waiting for a new bishop, declaring of Fr Leahy “let me assure you, he is worth the wait”.
“Fr Leahy is a man of many talents and accomplishments, but more importantly is a man of faith and has always gone where the Lord has called him,” he said.
Bishop Leahy is the first priest to be ordained to office in Limerick since 1974. He was consecrated by Archbishop Clifford, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin.
Cardinals Sean Brady and Desmond Connell were also in attendance, as was Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe Trevor Williams and Aides de Comp Col Brendan McAndrew and Comdt Michael Treacy for Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D. Higgins.
Mayor of Limerick Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, ministers Michael Noonan and Jan O’Sullivan, TDs Kieran O’Donnell and Patrick O’Donovan and a host of local politicians attended the ceremony.
Bishop Leahy is the first Irish bishop and eighth in the world to be ordained under the papacy of Pope Francis.