By Cian Molloy - 12 February, 2018
The Bishop could never imagine, as a child collecting funds for the building of the cathedral, “a day like this, presiding here ... at this great banquet of life and joy and welcome”.
The new Bishop of Galway, Brendan Kelly, was installed yesterday in the cathedral where he was ordained more than 40 years ago and which he helped build 20 years before that.
In the 1950s, the young Brendan Kelly and his sister Mary cycled around the parish of Craughwell collecting half-crowns, or whatever people could afford, to fund the construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Nicholas, he told the congregation in that great building in his first homily as head of the Diocese of Galway, Kilmacduagh and Kilfenora.
After welcoming the many people present, Bishop Kelly said: “I would like first of all to invite us all to become aware, in the silence, of this great structure that surrounds us, this cathedral that is giving us sanctuary this afternoon.
“I invite you to feel the size, the great height, the light and the colour through the beautiful windows, as we listen to the life-giving Word, the uplifting music, aware of the strength and spaciousness, the stark beauty and the safety of this sacred place.
“Teach Dé agus Teach an Phobail. House of God and of God’s people. I could never imagine then a day like this, presiding here with so many people at this great banquet of life and joy and welcome.
“God is here. And we are here. Meeting. Cathedral and Church are built so that we can remember who we are and what we are for in this world. And the immense dignity, respect and reverence that is due to every living person, regardless of ability, health, colour, size, nationality, or otherwise. This place exists lest we forget the nobility and dignity, the wonder of human life from its tiniest origins.”
The 71-year-old bishop is the second of nine children born to Sean and Annie Kelly of Ballinakill, and he was ordained a priest by Bishop Brown in Galway cathedral in 1971.
As a priest, he served on the teaching staff of Coláiste Éinde in Galway and Our Lady’s College, Gort, and he also served as a parish priest in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, and in An Spidéal in Connemara.
In 2008 he was consecrated as Bishop of Achonry. His episcopal motto is ‘De réir d’fhocail’, which means ‘According to your word’.
In his homily, Dr Kelly said that one of his priorities as bishop would be prayer. “In a world of too much speed and debilitating stress and pressure, we need to discover prayer anew, all of us, to begin again. And we have no shortage of places thanks to the humbler and more eternal view of the generations that went before us. Places like this cathedral. Built for our restoration and healing.”
Among those present at the installation were the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, the Mayor of Galway Pearse Flannery and other members of Galway City Council, and many local and national public representatives. A large number of well-wishers from the Diocese of Achonry attended, including a notable number of school principals from that diocese.
There were also well-wishers from other Christian denominations – Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist, Romanian Orthodox and the Coptic Church – as well as an Imam from Galway’s Muslim community. Bishop Kelly told the religious leaders present: “I look forward to us working together for the welfare of all the people of Galway and the generations who come after us.”