By Sarah Mac Donald - 12 October, 2013
Appointment of Mgr Nicholas O’Mahony follows resignation of Bishop Lee on health grounds.
The selection of Mgr O’Mahony was made by Waterford and Lismore’s College of Consultors and announced on Thursday.
In a statement accepting his election, Mgr O’Mahony thanked Bishop Lee for his twenty years of ministry as bishop. “I pray for him in his retirement, in particular for his health,” he said.
“My duty is to lead the diocese from now until a new bishop is appointed. During this time, I ask for your prayers that, guided by the Holy Spirit, a suitable bishop will be appointed.”
He also thanked the College of Consultors for the “trust they have shown in electing me as diocesan administrator… It is my prayer that I will live up to that trust.”
The Diocese of Waterford and Lismore includes Co Waterford and parts of Tipperary and Cork.
There are 45 parishes, 85 churches and a Catholic population of 148,267. The Patrons of the Diocese are St Otteran, St Carthage, and St Declan.
On 1 October Bishop Lee announced that he had tendered his resignation to Pope Francis on grounds of ill health.
His announcement was greeted with personal regret by the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, who said he was “pleased for Bishop Lee’s own sake and for his health.”
But he added that on a personal level he would miss his warmth, wisdom and compassion, especially at meetings of the Bishops’ Conference.
Cardinal Brady paid tribute to his Episcopal colleague’s career recalling that he had served his diocese and the Irish Episcopal Conference faithfully since his ordination as Bishop of Waterford and Lismore just over 20 years ago in July 1993.
He also served as Secretary to the Irish Episcopal Conference for 15 years from 1993 until this summer.
“I want to acknowledge his loyal, faithful and outstanding support of the work of the Conference during that time,” the Cardinal said and added that he looked forward to Bishop Lee’s friendship in the coming years.
He urged the faithful to remember him in their prayers at this time. “I wish him good health, a happy retirement and God’s blessing now and always.”
Announcing his retirement, Bishop Lee said he had been diagnosed with serious illness in July 2011 and since that diagnosis he had been under medical care.
“This has impacted greatly on my health and ministry. Recently the medical advice to me has been that, in the interests of my health, I should retire from the office of Bishop of Waterford and Lismore,” he explained.
He said that even though he found the time since diagnosis quite demanding, he had hoped that he would be able to continue in office and had looked forward to doing so. “Now, my doctors have advised otherwise,” he stated.
Bishop Lee explained that he had in the past few weeks submitted his letter of resignation as Bishop of Waterford and Lismore to Pope Francis and that the Holy Father had accepted his resignation.
“It is with reluctance and sadness that I have come to this decision to retire as I have been very happy and blessed amongst you the priests, religious and people of the diocese. It was a great privilege for me to be your Bishop. It is a long time and you have been very patient with my shortcomings,” the Bishop said.
He described his years as bishop as fulfilling and very challenging. “Today I recall with gratitude all who have shared in making God’s love present among us – building community, forming the young, safeguarding children, supporting the vulnerable, caring for the elderly, nurturing goodness and hope at every opportunity. I thank you for your dedication and generosity.”
He said that his intention in the future is to be available to “help out in the diocese – God willing – in whatever way I can.”