By Sean Ryan - 05 October, 2015
The Bishop of Limerick has expressed his hope that Pope Francis will follow in Pope John Paul II’s footsteps and comes to Limerick where “the welcome would be huge from a city and county where the Catholic faith has played such an important role”.
Commenting on a possible visit to the city by Pope Francis as part of the World Meeting of Families which Ireland will host in 2018, Bishop Brendan Leahy said it was too soon to say if this would happen.
However, if a visit came to pass, it would be a pivotal moment for the Church here he said.
Speaking to local radio Bishop Leahy commented, “Anyone who had the joy of experiencing and can recall Pope John Paul II’s visit to Ireland in 1979 would recall the wave of enchantment that came over the country around that visit.”
He added, “It was one of the great moments in the history of Limerick and should Pope Francis return to Ireland and Limerick, I have every confidence it would be the same all over again.”
Bishop Leahy has previously stated that Pope Francis has a fondness for Limerick having visited the city when he was a student for three months at the Jesuit Centre in the Miltown Institute in Dublin in 1980.
In 2013, Bishop Leahy recalled how “the Pope’s eyes lit up” when he told him he was from Limerick during a meeting in October of that year.
“I said to him, ‘I come from Limerick’ and his eyes lit up. He said, ‘Limerick I know it. I was in Ireland,’” Bishop Leahy recalled.
Another person hoping that the Pope will come to Limerick is local TD and Finance Minister Michael Noonan.
“I remember the excitement when Pope John Paul II visited Limerick back in 1979. There was massive excitement in the racecourse when hundreds of thousands of people came from all over the country to be part of the event,” he recalled.
The Minister added, “Another papal visit would cause great excitement and the Pope would be very welcome in Limerick,” he said.