By Ann Marie Foley - 03 January, 2018
Monsignor Dermot Pius Farrell has been appointed as the new Bishop of Ossory. Until now he has been Parish Priest of Dunboyne & Kilbride in the Diocese of Meath.
At 10.00am Mass in the Cathedral of Saint Mary, Kilkenny, on Wednesday (3rd January 2018) Bishop-elect Farrell spoke of his surprise and how humbled he felt at this call from the Church. He said that the request came a few days before Christmas, a time when Mary’s “yes” to God filled the Scripture readings.
“Like Mary’s decision, and most major decisions in life, being called to be a bishop is also a step into the unknown,” he said. “If we are honest, to be called to be a bishop in the Ireland of today is even more a step into the unknown. It is also a call to trust in the Lord, and in providence of God.”
He said he accepts the call to serve in Ossory, and to be a “pastor” in this community of faith. The bishop elect has been a priest for over 37 years with over half of that time in parish ministry. He spoke of the rich hurling tradition of Kilkenny and the names of the great clubs most of which coincide with the names of parishes.
He said he looked forward to working with the priests of the diocese and Monsignor Michael Ryan, who has been Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Ossory since the retirement of Bishop Seamus Freeman in 2016 due to ill health. He thanked Archbishop Jude Okolo, the Papal Nuncio, and Monsignor Piotr Tarnawski, Chargé d’Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature for their advice and help since he received news of the appointment. He asked for the prayers of the people of the diocese present in the Cathedral as he begins his ministry as bishop, among them.
Bishop of Meath, Most Rev Michael Smith, welcomed the appointment, stating that since his ordination in 1980, Monsignor Farrell has served the Diocese of Meath with “exemplary dedication, pastoral zeal and an immense capacity for work.”
He has worked in the Cathedral parish of Mullingar, and in Tullamore and in Dunboyne as Parish Priest where he initiated new pastoral programmes and renewed the parish churches and schools in one of the largest and most rapidly developing parishes in the Diocese of Meath. He was also Vicar General in the diocese, and served for over twenty years in Maynooth, as a lecturer in Moral Theology, Vice-President and President. “In these responsibilities, Monsignor Farrell displayed competence and balanced judgement at a time when many challenging decisions had to be made,” said Bishop Smith.
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, welcomed the appointment by Pope Francis of Monsignor Farrell as Bishop of Ossory. He stated that Bishop-elect Farrell’s pastoral experience will enrich his service to the people, priests and religious in his new diocese.
“His theological expertise as well as his wide experience of administration, pastoral ministry and seminary formation, will also benefit our discussions at the episcopal conference as we consider how to best serve the present and future needs of the Church in Ireland,” he added.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, as Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Dublin, welcomed the appointment of Monsignor Dermot Farrell stating, “I join with clergy and the entire diocesan community of Ossory in welcoming their new pastor. I wish Bishop-elect Farrell every blessing and personal happiness and invoke the guidance of the Holy Spirit on his new mission.”
Monsignor Dermot Farrell was born in 1954 in the parish of Castletown-Geoghegan, Co Westmeath. After completing the Leaving Certificate at Saint Finian’s College, Mullingar, he commenced an eight year period of seminary formation at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, which included degrees in science and theology. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Meath by Bishop John McCormack in 1980. He was awarded a Licentiate in Theology at Maynooth in 1981, and he served for the next four years as a curate in Mullingar.
Monsignor Farrell completed a Doctorate in Dogmatic Theology at the Gregorian University, Rome over a three year period and at the same time served as Dean of Studies at the Pontifical Irish College.
He returned to the Diocese of Meath in 1988 and was assigned to the Parish of Tullamore, in addition to his work as a part-time lecturer at Maynooth. He was appointed Vice President of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth in 1993, and President of the College in 1996. Having held that position for almost 11 years, he was appointed Parish Priest of Dunboyne in September 2007 and Vicar General of the Diocese of Meath in 2009.
The Diocese of Ossory consists of County Kilkenny and parts of counties Laois and Offaly. The Catholic population of Ossory is 84,729. There are 42 parishes in the diocese and 89 churches, served by 58 priests active in the diocese and 15 others. The retired bishops of Ossory are Bishop Laurence Forristal (September 2007) and Bishop Seamus Freeman SAC (due to ill health, July 2016).