OVER 1,000 people have been invited to St Johnâ€™s Cathedral to attend this Sundayâ€™s ordination of Fr Brendan Leahy as Bishop of Limerick.
Fr Leahy said that while the forecast was for wind and rain, this had not dampened his enthusiasm for the ceremony, the first such to take place in the diocese for almost 40 years.
His predecessor Dr Donal Murray was already a bishop when installed in the 1990s, meaning the last episcopal ordination in Limerick was that of Dr Jeremiah Newman in 1974.
Fr Leahy said he was â€œalso particularly pleasedâ€ to be the first bishop to be ordained in Ireland under the papacy of Pope Francis - and only the eighth worldwide.
Appointed while Pope Benedict XVI was still in the Vatican, Fr Leahy joked of his elevation: â€œI hope that wasnâ€™t one of the reasons why Pope Benedict retired or that Pope Francis would change his mindâ€.
Archbishop Dermot Clifford will be chief celebrant on Sunday, assisted by the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Fr Leahyâ€™s native Dublin.
â€œIâ€™m quite excited about it,â€ Fr Leahy said. â€œNaturally, the fact that I have had several months has been good. I couldnâ€™t be ordained during Lent because you canâ€™t have a ceremony like this during the Lent period, which gave me several months to prepare. So I have been coming down once or twice a week since, doing an induction course if you like, guided superbly both by Fr Tony (Mullins) and Fr Paul (Finnerty). They have introduced me to various aspects in the life of the diocese although Iâ€™m sure I have a lot more yet to discover. But that has been very helpful to me as it has given me a whole overview of how the diocese is, how it works and what is going on. I must say there are a lot of great things going on in Limerick and in many, many ways the diocese is in very good shape.â€
Fr Frank Oâ€™Connor anticipates that the ordination will take at least two hours. Those who have been invited are asked to be seated by 2.30pm and attend well in advance of that time. Car parking has been provided by Irish Rail at the Roxboro Road and by Limerick CBS and Presentation Secondary School, both on Sexton Street. No parking will be permitted in the vicinity of the cathedral itself.
While invitees and those participating could number up to 1500, there may be room left for others. Extra accommodation is to be provided at St Johnâ€™s National School. A stream of the ceremony will be broadcast here and will also go out live on the diocesan website.
The first part of the formal ceremony, Fr Oâ€™Connor said, would be the â€œreading of apostolic letter and that is from Pope Benedict appointing Fr Brendan as Bishop of Limerickâ€. He will later accept symbols of office in the bishopâ€™s ring, mitre and crozier before greeting hundreds of representatives from parishes; people from civic life, the education sector and voluntary groups; immigrant and Traveller representatives and leaders from Christian denominations and other faiths.