By Sarah Mac Donald - 02 July, 2019
“The people of God in the Diocese of Clogher await your arrival,” Bishop Larry Duffy told Fr Kevin Connolly as he ordained him on Sunday in St Macartan’s Cathedral in Monaghan.
Fr Kevin Connolly is the first priest to be ordained by Bishop Duffy since his episcopal ordination as Bishop of Clogher last February.
Bishop Duffy was the chief consecrator for the ordination ceremony while two retired bishops of the diocese, Bishop Joseph Duffy and Bishop Liam S MacDaid, were present in the sanctuary.
In two weeks’ time, Bishop MacDaid will mark the 50th anniversary of his ordination to priesthood with a special Mass of Thanksgiving in St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan. He was ordained at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth on 15 June 1969.
Yesterday evening, Fr Connolly celebrated his first Mass in St Mary’s Church, Glennan.
In his homily on Sunday, Bishop Duffy said he and the diocese rejoiced with Fr Kevin and his family and friends.
“It is a day of great joy for us all in the Diocese of Clogher. So often we pray for vocations to priesthood and religious life and today, God is answering our prayers. We offer our thanks to the Lord.”
Dr Duffy also thanked God that the spirit of care, support and hospitality “is still very much alive” in the Diocese of Clogher.
He told the young cleric, “in becoming a priest, Jesus Christ calls you to be his companion. He calls you to spend time in his company; he calls you to ponder his life and message and he calls you to celebrate his presence in the sacraments and in life. This is at the very heart of priesthood.
“Christ also sends you out in his name to be a leader in the community of faith that is his Church. This is a call to serve.”
Speaking about Christian leadership, he recalled Pope Francis’ words where he said priests should sometimes go before people, pointing the way; at other times they walk with people, especially on occasions of celebrating joy and sadness, like weddings and funerals; and there are times when they walk at the rear, helping those who lag behind and, importantly, encouraging those with gifts of leadership.
“This particular form of leadership will be especially important from now into the future as we have [fewer] priests, but most especially, as we enable lay people to take on leadership roles in our Church at various levels.”
Bishop Duffy added, “Wherever we find ourselves we must always allow God to surprise us by his gracious presence and action in people’s lives – often where it is least expected.”
Addressing the diocese’s newest priest, he told him, “Kevin, the people of God in the Diocese of Clogher await your arrival. God is preparing them to welcome you. Go forth confidently in the knowledge that God walks with you!”
Fr Kevin Connolly is from Glaslough in the Parish of Donagh, Co. Monaghan. He is the son of Patrick and Kathleen Connolly and the eldest of six children – three brothers and two sisters – who were present for the ceremony.
Between 1993 and 1998 Fr Kevin attended Beech Hill College, Monaghan. He then studied at An Grianán horticultural college, Termonfeckin for two-and-a-half years, where he received a diploma in horticulture in 2001.
Between 2001 and 2003 Kevin was employed at the Greenfingers garden centre. Between 2003 and 2012 he was self-employed in horticulture in Monaghan.
In August 2012 Kevin commenced his studies in St Patrick’s Seminary Maynooth. For the past year he has been serving as a deacon in Monaghan & Rackwallace (Cathedral) parish.
The Diocese of Clogher encompasses all of Co. Monaghan, most of Fermanagh and portions of Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan. It has a Catholic population of 88,000 across 37 parishes, which are served by 57 priests and 2 deacons. There are 85 churches in the diocese.