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New archbishop reflects on his calling to priesthood

By Susan Gately - 07 February, 2015

Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly of Cashel & Emly

Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel & Emly

Tomorrow Bishop Kieran O’Reilly, formerly bishop of Killaloe, will be installed as Archbishop of Cashel and Emly.

Bishop O’Reilly is a member of the Society of African Missions and he worked on the missions for several years, serving in Liberia for two years and lecturing in Scripture in Ibadan, Nigeria, for another five.

In advance of his installation as archbishop, and in the context of the Year of Consecrated Life, Bishop O’Reilly spoke to CatholicIreland.net about his own life of consecration.

Born in Cork in 1952, the young Kieran O’Reilly felt called to consecrate his life to God by the witness of missionaries he met during his secondary school years and in the Scouting movement.

“I had a desire to serve as a priest in Africa.”

He entered the Society of African Missions in Wilton, Cork in 1970. For several years he worked in Africa, until 1989 when he was asked to serve on the Irish and International Councils of the Society of African Missions.

Asked by CatholicIreland.net had consecrated life changed in recent years, Bishop O’Reilly reflected on his own institute – the Society of African Missions which had changed “very considerably” since he joined.

“What was once an Institute centred on Europe and North America is now firmly established in Africa, India, the Philippines and Poland,” he said.

It changed through “the invitation to young people to join us from the countries where we were missionaries to become missionaries themselves and in keeping with our charism to go as missionaries to other parts of Africa themselves.”

They have brought a new richness and faith experience with them,” he added.

In 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI appointed the SMA priest Bishop of Killaloe succeeding Bishop Willie Walsh.

Four years later he was appointed as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Religious and Societies of Apostolic Life by Pope Francis.

Less than three months ago, Pope Francis appointed him Archbishop of the Archdiocese of. Cashel and Emly.

SMA student priests in the Philippines

SMA student priests in the Philippines

He says what is most important in his life of consecration to God is to live the commitment to mission and to serve the Church where he is called.

“I believe Consecrated Life has an impact that is waning,” he says, “but still there are shoots of life.

“It will never be again in our lifetime what it was sixty or so years ago, but hopefully there will be still young women and men who will answer the call to witness and service in this manner.”

Bishop O’Reilly’s installation as Archbishop of Cashel and Emly takes place tomorrow at the Cathedral of The Assumption, Thurles, Co Tipperary at 3pm.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the retired Archbishop Dermot Clifford, will formally welcome Archbishop O’Reilly to the diocese and the papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown will read the Apostolic Mandate from Pope Francis.

After this Archbishop O’Reilly will take possession of the Chair in the Cathedral where he will be presented with the Book of the Gospels and the pastoral staff, symbols of the Office of the new Archbishop.

Mass will follow, where the new Archbishop will be the chief celebrant and give the homily.

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