Vocations and reaching out to young people in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin are among the priorities of its newly ordained bishop.
Slane native Fr Denis Nulty was installed as bishop in front of 750 people from Kildare, Carlow and Laois who packed into the Cathedral of the Assumption in Carlow last Sunday afternoon, August 4.
The Meath man, who previously served in Drogheda, was named on last May as successor to Bishop Jim Moriarty, who offered his resignation in 2009 in the wake of the Murphy report. The diocese was administered in the intervening period by Monsignor Brendan Byrne.
The new bishop offered his thanks to both Mgr Byrne and Bishop Emeritus Moriarty for their support during his ordination address.
“Bishop Jim has been a great shepherd of this Diocese and a great bolster to me in recent weeks,” he said of his predecessor, who symbolically handed him the crozier during the ordination rites.
Bishop Nulty said that the day was a “celebration of all that is good in a Diocese”, and thanked the mammoth effort from the team of people who had arranged the ceremony.
“I look forward to visiting each parish, meeting those who keep Saint Brigid’s flame lit in their communities, listening to the young,” he said. He joked that he was relishing a visit to the Ploughing Championships in Laois next month, adding “I do have a good pair of wellingtons”.
The tragic loss of Eoghan and Ruairi Chada from Ballinkillen, which is within Kildare and Leighlin, was also mentioned by the Bishop, who coconcelebrated their funeral mass last week. He spoke of how the community needed one another “and how acutely aware we all are in recent days of that very need of one another as evidenced by the small community of Ballinkillen out the road in Bagnalstown Parish as they surrounded Kathleen Chada and her family,” he said. “Our only role at this time is to extend the comfort of our prayers to all who are in any way affected by this tragedy,” he said.
The ordination mass was celebrated by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, with the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles J Brown and Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop of Meath.
Cardinal Sean Brady and Cardinal Desmond Connell were also in attendance, along with other members of the hierarchy, 170 parish representatives plus other guests.
Delivering the homily, Mgr Byrne paid tribute to both Pope Benedict and Bishop Moriarty. “It is now over three years since Bishop Jim Moriarty, with similar humility [to Pope Benedict], stepped down from office here in Kildare and Leighlin and expressed the hope that it would open the way to a better future for all concerned.
“Bishop Jim - you will always have our respect and admiration for your service among us, and we pray God’s blessing upon you in your retirement,” he told the congregation, to a sustained round of applause. He also drew some laughs when he thanked the Diocese of Meath for sending “their tallest priest” - at 6’ 5”, the 50-year-old Bishop Nulty towered above his colleagues on the altar.
The ordination mass was a highly choreographed ceremony of celebration and positivity, involving nearly 30 members of the hierarchy who were present on the altar.
Newbridge man Fr John Cummins, who is the administrator of Carlow Cathedral, was one of the first to address the congregation. He introduced the ceremony, which was preceeded by a parade of banners from the diocese’s 56 parishes, which represent nearly a quarter of a million Catholics.
Bishop Nulty was embraced by members of his family after the ordination rites, before receiving the symbolic kiss of peace from all members of the college of bishops present. Fr Liam Lawton sung the communion reflection. The ceremony was streamed live to screens in the Cathedral Parish Centre and the local Visual Arts Centre, and was also available on iCatholic.ie.
Speaking after the ceremony, the bishop reiterated his commitment to encouraging new vocations in the diocese. “They are key, without a doubt, we need more priests and more vocations,” he said, adding that he also wanted to encourage the participation of lay men and women in the church. He described the atmosphere in the cathedral as “moving” and “heavenly”.
His brother Christy Nulty said Bishop Nulty and his family had been humbled to be chosen as the new pastor of Kildare and Leighlin.
“No one was taken aback as much as Denis, but we know how much work he has put in in the past 25 years. We are all delighted and we wish him the best of luck,” he said.