By Ann Marie Foley - 29 May, 2019
The Kildare & Leighlin Diocese will welcome its ninth priest from abroad this summer, when Fr Ciprian Matei joins two others from Romania in the diocese.
Fr Ciprian Matei, from the Archdiocese of Bucharest, Romania, is to become Curate (CC) in Portlaoise parish. Fr Petru Medves, also from the Archdiocese of Bucharest, has been appointed CC in Bagenalstown. Fr Bernard Reyhart, from the Archdiocese of Colombo, Sri Lanka, is to become CC in Prosperous.
“We have been blessed with the arrival of priests from other countries into our diocese in recent years. Later this summer we will welcome our ninth priest and our third from Romania,” stated Bishop Denis Nulty as he announced this year’s appointments (2019). “As always, I encourage every parish to put prayer for vocations at the heart of their Sunday liturgy. I thank the lay faithful of our diocese who are so welcoming, encouraging and affirming of our priests,” he stated.
In his pastoral letter: Facing Changes & Challenges Together, published in May 2017, Bishop Nulty highlighted challenges in the diocese, which at that time had 27 of its 90 serving priests aged over 75.
In consultation meetings that followed the pastoral letter, Bishop Nulty spoke of the need for greater lay involvement and of bringing priests from other countries. Bishop Nulty said that he had visited the Diocese of Iasi in Romania to explore the possibility of priests coming to minister for a period of time in his diocese.
In August 2017 Fr Eugen Dragos was to arrive in the diocese. Then in November 2017 a delegation from Iasi, led by Auxiliary Bishop Aurel Perca, visited Kildare & Leighlin. Fr Marcelin Rediu, who was part of that delegation, stayed on and became the second priest on loan from Iasi to Kildare & Leighlin.
“The few extra priests are by no means going to change the face of the diocese, but they offer that little extra capacity, allowing a priest who gets sick to have cover, allowing a priest to take a sabbatical or study period, allowing a priest who is under personal pressure to take a period of leave,” the Bishop stated at the time.
A number of priests have also come from India to work in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin. Fr George Augustine, who is a native of Kerala, served for a time in Portlaoise parish and then Kilcock. In July 2016 three members of the Indian Carmelite Community arrived to take charge of White Abbey friary in Kildare.
In September 2017 Bishop Nulty welcomed a visiting bishop from India, Bishop Sebastian Thekethecheril from the Diocese of Vijayapuram, Kerala, south India, to Kildare & Leighlin. At that time a priest from Bishop Sebastian’s diocese, Fr Alex Kochatt, was serving as a *“Fidei Donum” priest (Gifts of Faith priest to serve for a three-year period in the diocese) in the parish of Naas.
Bishop Nulty said back then about the arrival of priests from abroad: “There is a richness in this exchange, a freshness, an enthusiasm about the new reality. The new reality means much greater participation by you, the laity, in all parishes.”
In this year’s appointments several other priests are to move around the diocese following the retirement of four priests and the untimely accidental death of Fr John Cummins last January (2019). His parish in Abbeyleix is to have a new first-time parish priest Fr Paddy Byrne, who has been working in the nearby Portlaoise Parish and is well known for his newspaper columns and blogging.
“After seven very happy and fulfilling years in Portlaoise Parish I’ve been appointed as Parish Priest to the parishes of Abbeyleix and Raheen. I’m enthused and really looking forward to the challenge. My life as a priest is challenging in times of transition. Pray for me,” said Fr Paddy Byrne.
Commenting on the appointments, Bishop Nulty stated: “Appointments are no longer simply filling gaps or spaces, but speaking into a wider vision and plan.” He added: “How we look on parish life into the future will be very different. Our Diocesan Pastoral Council and other agencies of the diocese will continue to work to offer greater support to all our parishes.”
He wished all the priests every blessing in their new appointments and thanked them. He asked for prayers for all involved.