By Sarah Mac Donald - 14 July, 2014
The new Bishop of Elphin has said vocations are one of the key challenges facing the diocese and signalled that they will be a priority for him.
In his address following his episcopal ordination, Bishop Kevin Doran told a packed Sligo cathedral that “vocation does not begin when people are teenagers or young adults.”
“It begins when God calls us into life and when, through Baptism, He invites us to be members of his family.”
He said it makes no sense to expect that people can be ready to commit to any Christian vocation, marriage, priesthood, religious life, or diaconate, if they have not first of all been helped to recognise God’s invitation in Baptism and to respond to it.
Speaking in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday evening, the country’s newest bishop said, “This is what needs to happen in our families and our parish communities, just so that young people can grow to maturity as Christians, recognising their responsibilities within the community,” the former Secretary General of the International Eucharistic Congress commented.
“Then, gradually and with the encouragement of those around them they can begin to discern how God wants them to live this gift of faith that they have been given.”
Along with Bishop Doran’s family and friends, over 150 priests from the Diocese of Elphin and the Archdiocese of Dublin, 30 bishops, 25 permanent deacons and representatives from various Christian communities were present.
These were joined by over 500 representatives from parishes throughout Elphin and from various diocesan organisations, with over 50 representatives from various voluntary caring organisations present too.
The principal ordaining bishop at Sunday’s service was Bishop Christopher Jones, the retiring Bishop of Elphin, who was assisted by Archbishop Charles Brown, the papal nuncio, and Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam.
In his address, Bishop Doran referred to the Apostolic Letter from Pope Francis in which the Pontiff asked him “to give special care to those who are marginalised; to the poor, to those who are in prison and to those who are sick.”
“This is an essential part of the mission of the Church, because it was an essential part of the ministry of Jesus.”
“I would like if this care for those who are on the margins could be a hall-mark of our diocese into the future and I invite you to join me in making that a reality,” Bishop Doran said.
The crozier he wore on Sunday was first used over 150 years ago by Bishop Laurence Gillooly, who led a period of great renewal in the diocese of Elphin.
“For me, this symbolises continuity and communion – the challenge in these new times, to witness to a truth that is eternal,” the new Bishop explained.
“For much the same reason, I was delighted that Bishop Jones agreed to ordain me today with the help of Archbishop Neary and Archbishop Brown.”
“For twenty years, Bishop Christy has given generously of himself as bishop of this diocese. He has been most generous in the welcome that he has given me and, in these past two months, I have been amazed at his energy, his commitment and his good humour.”
On the good news from, Bishop Doran said he had noticed on the pastoral level, that in places young people seem to be actively involved in the life of the Church.
Elphin had also received a very positive report from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
“This is good news but, of course, we need to remain alert to the risks, which are, sadly, part of our social reality today,” the Bishop warned.
Other signs of growth in the diocese include the formation and ordination of permanent deacons and the diploma in adult faith formation.
He admitted that there would be many challenges to face in the coming months and years.
“These include the absence of young adults from many of our rural communities because of the lack of suitable employment; the loneliness and isolation of elderly people as a result of the tendency to focus businesses and essential services in larger population centres.”
On the question of marriage and family life, there was a need to be attentive to helping young people commit to marriage as a Christian vocation and ensuring that they find support in our parish communities as they try to live their commitment.
The homily on Sunday was given by Canon Liam Devine, parish priest of the Parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Athlone.
He said the bishop is called “in a particular way to be a prophet, witness and servant of hope, and this hope, together with faith and love, must completely shape the bishop’s pastoral ministry.”
Witnessing to that hope in today’s world when we are often faced with a bleak landscape of falling vocations, a selective and sometimes hostile media and dwindling Mass attendances can be a very challenging and heavy burden for a bishop, Canon Devine suggested.
“But we must cling to the hope based on the promises and assurances of Jesus Christ to His apostles; ‘I will not abandon you, I will not leave you orphans, I will be with you all days to the end of the world.’”
He added, “Our hope is not grounded in worldly success or personal achievement but in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. He is our anchor.”
He described Sunday’s ordination as a “truly special and historic occasion when another chapter is added to the history of Elphin diocese with the ordination of Fr Kevin Doran as our bishop”.