It’s not always easy being a priest today, says new Bishop of Meath

Bishop Deenihan said he was ‘particularly conscious’ of his role in supporting the priests of his diocese

Episcopal ordination of  Tom Deenihan as the new Bishop of Meath at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar. Photograph: John McElroy

Episcopal ordination of Tom Deenihan as the new Bishop of Meath at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar. Photograph: John McElroy

 

It is “not always easy” being a priest today and they deserve support from their superiors and parishioners, according to the newly ordained Bishop of Meath.

Cork native Tom Deenihan was ordained by Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, in front of 1,200 people at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar on Sunday.

Addressing the congregation, Bishop Deenihan said that following the announcement of his appointment in mid-June, he had experienced “a range of emotions: fear, unworthiness, apprehension and a certain calmness that comes from a combination of faith and the support of family, friends and colleagues”.

Discussing his ministry he said he was “particularly conscious” of his role in supporting the priests of his diocese.

“They are the men who minister in so many different places, in so many different contexts and in oft difficult circumstances reaching out to those whom they minister to. It is not always easy being a priest today, like the parable, the priests of Ireland have worked in the noonday sun. They deserve support from their Bishop and parishioners.”

Speaking during the ceremony in front of a full cathedral, Archbishop Martin, the principal consecrator, said bishops needed to listen to the “people of God who have great gifts and great wisdom”.

He also paid tribute to Bishop Deenihan’s predecessor, the now Bishop Emeritus of Meath Michael Smith, who was Ireland’s longest-serving bishop.

Cork accent

During the homily Fr Denis Nelis told the congregation that on the day his appointment was announced, Bishop Deenihan was worried that the people of the diocese, which covers Meath, Westmeath and parts of Offaly, Longford, Dublin, Cavan and Louth, would not understand his Cork accent.

“There will be no need for us to be ordering the boxset of The Young Offenders or anything like that. You might have to speak slowly for the first year or so. In fact, it may be more difficult for you to become accustomed to the accents of our diocese.”

Bishop Deenihan was born in Cork in 1967. He attended the North Monastery Christian Brothers School in the city. After completing post-primary education, he studied at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He was ordained for the Diocese of Cork and Ross by the late Bishop Michael Murphy in 1991.

Since his ordination, Bishop Deenihan worked in Glanmire Parish (1991-1994), taught in St Goban’s College Bantry (1994-2003) during which time he also worked in the parishes of Schull, Kealkil and Bantry. In 2003 he was appointed as diocesan adviser for post-primary catechetics and, in 2006, as diocesan secretary and diocesan education secretary.

Nationally, he has served as the general secretary of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association from 2013 to 2016, and as acting-executive secretary to the Council for Education and to the Commission for Catholic Education and Formation of the Irish Episcopal Conference.