By Sarah Mac Donald - 01 July, 2019
The episcopal ordination of Bishop Fintan Gavin as Bishop of Cork and Ross was described as an “historic day in the life of the diocese” by Bishop John Buckley, who handed on the reins after 21 years at the helm.
In his words of welcome at the Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne in Cork City, Bishop Buckley highlighted to the congregation of 1,200 that there have only been four Catholic bishops in Cork since 1916.
“Cork bishops are noted for their longevity!” he quipped.
The first episcopal ordination in the diocese since 1984 and the first ordination of a non-Cork priest in 300 years was a milestone in the life of the diocese, Bishop Buckley said, as he paid tribute to Bishop Gavin’s “wide and varied administrative and pastoral experience”.
Bishop Buckley was the principal consecrator for the ceremony and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin and Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly were co-consecrators.
After Holy Communion, the papal nuncio, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, together with Archbishop O’Reilly, led the newly ordained bishop through his Cathedral to bless the assembled congregation.
The papal mandate from Pope Francis told the country’s youngest Catholic bishop: “We thought of you, beloved son, as having shown yourself in the exercise of your duties so gifted with human and priestly qualities, and with skill in practical affairs, that you seemed suitable to us to undertake this office.”
Bishop Gavin was ordained a priest in 1991. He is the second eldest of seven brothers and sisters. A Dubliner, until this appointment he served as Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Dublin and also ministered in Our Lady of Victories Parish, Dublin.
In his address, Bishop Gavin thanked Bishop Paul Colton, Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross; Reverend Denis Maguire, Methodist Church; and the members of Cork Ecumenical Standing Committee for attending the ceremony.
He also paid tribute to his family, telling the congregation, “I am fortunate to have both my parents here today. I am grateful to them for all they gave to my brothers, sisters and myself through their selfless generosity and love and through their own example, sharing the gifts of faith and love.”
He said his family and close friends had supported him in his ministry.
“Priests come from our families and as families we must nurture and support those vocations.
“We need to promote a culture of vocational discernment and consideration of all of the Christian vocations to love and service.”
He said Cork and Ross was fortunate to have “dedicated, hardworking and faithful priests who continue to give generous service, but they are a group that are getting smaller”.
“We need to actively go out of our way to encourage, foster, nourish and promote vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.”
Describing priesthood as a challenging but wonderfully fulfilling life, the new bishop added, “We need to help young men, all those who feel that Jesus may be calling them to follow him as priests, to hear and respond to God’s call to priesthood.”
He said Pope Francis continually reminded the Church that its mission is to go beyond itself, to be open and welcoming, reaching out to those on the margins and the peripheries, “going towards the last, the lost, and least among us”.
“As a Christian community if we are to be authentic, we need to be in solidarity and reach out in concrete action. To those who have lost their faith or are struggling to hang on in there particularly because of the awful things that individuals or institutions have done in the name of the Church, we need to stretch out a hand of dialogue and listening so that their voices are heard – so that we can apologise once again and learn from the awful things that were allowed to happen. We can never allow this to happen again,” Bishop Gavin said.
“We stand in solidarity with survivors and their families and we continue our commitment and vigilance to the protection and safeguarding of children in our Church and in society.”
Speaking after the ceremony, Bishop Gavin told Catholicireland.net that vocations would be a priority.
“We have just over 80 active priests in the diocese; it is a big diocese with 68 parishes – the third biggest diocese in the whole of Ireland and the second biggest in the south of Ireland. We are a Eucharistic community and to have the Eucharist you need priests.”
He said that if he had to start all over again he would still choose to be a priest. “I have had very happy years as a priest. It is a great life; it is a challenging life but it is a very rewarding and fulfilling life and a very privileged life, in the sense that you are in such a privileged position in people’s lives.”