A new bishop for Kildare and Leighlin, four years later

Bishop elect Fr. Denis Nulty makes his inaugural address.
Almost four and a half years after Jim Moriarty announced that he was standing down as bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Meath man Denis Nulty has been appointed to replace him.

Almost four and a half years after Jim Moriarty announced that he was standing down as bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Meath man Denis Nulty has been appointed to replace him.

Bishop Moriarty resigned on December 23, 2009. It was finally accepted by the Vatican in April the following year.

Father Nulty was revealed yesterday morning, May 7 to a sizable crowd outside the cathedral in Carlow.

He revealed afterwards that he was informed of his new position two weeks ago. He is currently the parish priest of Saint Mary’s parish, Drogheda in the Diocese of Meath.

He is originally from Slane, where he was born on June 7, 1963. He is the youngest of five children, with two brothers and two sisters and grew up on the family farm.

After school in Slane and Navan he completed his Leaving Cert in 1981 and entered the seminary at Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth.

He was ordained in June 1988 and appointed a Curate in the Cathedral Parish at Mullingar where he served for ten years until 1998.

In August 1998 he moved to Drogheda where he has remained until the present day.

At the age of 35, he was the youngest parish priest in the country, and now, at the age of 50, he is the youngest bishop, and at 6,5, probably the tallest as well.

Speaking after his unveiling, he said he was coming to the diocese “as a priest who has been immersed in parish life since ordination”.

He said his years as a priest had been “a very rewarding and enriching 25 years, during which I have been taught so much about being a priest among people in the struggles and the joys of ordinary life.

“I am a priest who works earnestly, who loves the priesthood and loves working with priests and people.

“But I am a priest who needs to learn a great deal about the story of this diocese, its geography, its people, its priests, its traditions and its history – be patient with me as I embark on a journey that will take me to every parish in this Diocese, to listen to the Spirit speaking through the faith and example of committed priests and parishioners.

“I know there is dedicated involvement of laity at many layers of Church life. I come to support this engagement. I come to listen to the conversation of faith in the Diocese. I come to care for priests, to encourage seminarians and to support the faith growth of the young, who may feel at times isolated or on the fringe.

“For many priests these are difficult days as they see their number grow perhaps older and fewer and the demands heavier – let us work together to encourage vocations and to develop collaborative ministry.”

He spoke of those who are “thirsting for the water of new life and hope - those living in negative equity in the commuter belt; those coping with the stress of the daily treadmill; those out of work searching for a deeper appreciation of their self-worth and dignity; farmers coping with the fodder crisis and late spring, how much that life is needed. May each find solace and support in this hour.”

But he also said he was “equally conscious of those who have been wounded by the Church and the terrible sins of individuals who should have brought life, but instead inflicted pain and destruction on too many”. 

He was unafraid to use his inaugural address to wade straight into the current controversy over abortion. Referring to the statement of Diocesan Administrator Monsignor Brendan Byrne “who very eloquently reminded us: “a life is a life. Whatever happens, the need to respect that life should never be reduced to a ‘choice’ or an arbitrary timeline”.

“Mothers deserve nothing less than the best medical and psychiatric care available, especially during pregnancy when the lives of two persons – the life of the unborn and the life of the mother – are at stake.

“The Gospel of life is at the heart of the message of Jesus: the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always morally wrong,” he said, quoting from a recent statement by the bishops.

- Conor McHugh