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Primate of All Ireland calls for “Family Rosary Crusade against Covid”

By Sarah Mac Donald - 21 September, 2020

Cardinal Sean Brady lays his hands on Bishop Martin Hayes as Archbishop Eamon Martin looks on during the Episcopal ordination ceremony at the Cathedral of St Patrick & St Felim, Cavan. Pic: John McElroy.

Archbishop Eamon Martin has called for a “Family Rosary Crusade against Covid” to take place throughout Ireland during the month of October.

In his homily for the episcopal ordination of Bishop Martin Hayes of Kilmore, the Primate of All Ireland appealed to families to pray “even one decade of the Rosary” each day during October for themselves, their loved ones and for all those whose health or livelihood is being seriously impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

The ordination ceremony was held on Sunday afternoon in the Cathedral of St Patrick & St Felim in Cavan town.

Archbishop Martin was the Principal Consecrator while Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, and Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA, were the co-consecrators.

In his address, Bishop Hayes thanked the ‘Kilmore bishops’ for their presence – Cardinal Sean Brady and Bishops Francis Duffy, Michael Router and Bishop Emeritus Leo O’Reilly.

In his homily, the Archbishop of Armagh said Bishop Hayes brought a depth of pastoral experience and a particular understanding of how to encourage the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church to the Diocese of Kilmore.

“Your pastoral insights on this matter will also be of great value to the Irish Bishops’ Conference, because we are committed to a ground-up synodal process for new evangelisation and for revitalising the Church in Ireland,” Archbishop Martin said.

He said bishops need to find new ways of harnessing the “tremendous gifts and charisms of our lay faithful” and recalled how a young nurse had told him during the lockdown how the Covid-19 crisis had opened her eyes to see her nursing work in a new way – as her vocation from God.

Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Bishop Martin Hayes and Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel & Emly outside the Cathedral of St Patrick & St Felim, Cavan. Pic: John McElroy.

“Like thousands of other health workers and carers – many of whom are committed members of our parishes – she has been witnessing powerfully to the tenderness and compassion of God.”

“Others, including many of our young people, have been willing volunteers during the pandemic, reaching out to the lonely and housebound. These are today’s labourers in the vineyard of the Lord. It is our task, as spiritual and pastoral leaders, to help more people to hear and answer the Lord’s invitation: ‘You go into my vineyard too’.”

Elsewhere in his homily, Archbishop Martin said the past six months had reminded people of “the importance of the ‘domestic Church’ – the Church of the sitting room and kitchen!”

It had also highlighted the vocation of parents as the primary teachers of faith and prayer in the home and family.

One of Bishop Hayes’ tasks as a bishop, both during this crisis and in the future, Dr Martin said, will be to build unity and to foster communion.

“As bishop, you must discern wisely the will of God and build bridges – both online and offline. Be a reconciler, a healer and a peacemaker. Be like a skilled ‘pruner’ in the vineyard who can carefully cultivate new and healthy growth in the branches.”

At times it would be his duty to correct error and proclaim the truth of the Gospel – whether it is welcome or unwelcome.

“So do not be afraid to speak up strongly for the dignity of the human person and for the protection of all human life, especially against public policies that fundamentally contradict the moral law – like abortion and euthanasia. Work for justice and peace, for solidarity with the poor and the homeless, and compassion for migrants and refugees and other vulnerable and defenceless people. Support marriage and the family and promote respectful care for the Earth, our common home.”

In his address, Bishop Martin Hayes acknowledged the “strange times” in which his episcopal ordination was taking place.

“We have had to change our plans – I had hoped to have all the cousins, friends, and parishioners of Kilmore here – and now, in caring for everyone’s health, we are reaching out to you online,” he said and became emotional as he greeted his brothers Michael and Darragh who were watching via webcam from Holland and Germany.

Remembering those who have died due to Covid-19, and all the bereaved and all those who are sick, the new Bishop of Kilmore said that as the pandemic is a world-wide phenomenon, “we are all in the same situation, struggling to contain the virus and so there is a sense of solidarity in keeping each other safe – we are in this together, learning from each other, though struggling to find a ‘new normal’.”

Describing it as a time of transition, Dr Hayes added, “our old order has not just been disturbed, we have been thrown into chaos, there is no going back to the old order and so we are in disorder.”

“Yes, we are having conversations, discussions, formulating plans and roadmaps, changing them, rewriting them, floundering, coming up with new plans – we are realising that we are not totally in charge of our own destiny.”

Bishop Martin Hayes of Kilmore. Pic: John McElroy.

“We are at a crossroads, a crossroads – we have been called to reflect upon life, our priorities and we have had to make decisions. We are awaiting and entering a time of reorder in our world, as the people of planet Earth – our Common Home, as referred to by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ and celebrated during September, the Church’s annual ‘Month of Creation’. We go forward into the unknown, into this disorder or liminal space trusting in the Cross of Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Hayes’ mitre was made by Sr Gabrielle of the Poor Clare monastery in Ennis, Co Clare. The design was based on his vestments for his priestly ordination in 1989 which were made by Sr Nellie Ryan, RSM in Cashel.

The new Bishop’s crozier was made from a number of different woods, each of which had a particular significance for him.

Joey Burns of irishwoodsculpture.ie constructed the pastoral staff which consists of four different timbers: bog oak from the native parish of his mother, Mary Agnes (nee Bowe) Rathdowney-Errill in Ossory diocese; ash from his own birthplace in Borris, Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles, Co Tipperary; and sycamore from a tree planted by Bishop William Bedell in 1632 which still stands at Kilmore where the pre-Reformation Catholic cathedral of St Feidhlimidh was located and adjacent to the present-day Church of Ireland Saint Feidhlimidh’s cathedral.

The pastoral staff also features inserts of yew from the lands of St Oliver Plunkett in Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co Meath and is engraved with Celtic Christian symbols.

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