Francis Duffy is new Catholic Archbishop of Tuam

The former bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois succeeds Archbishop Michael Neary

A 2013 photograph showing a woman kissing the ring of  Francis Duffy when he was ordained a bishop at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Athlone. File photograph: John McElroy

A 2013 photograph showing a woman kissing the ring of Francis Duffy when he was ordained a bishop at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Athlone. File photograph: John McElroy

 

Bishop Francis Duffy (63), the former bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, has been appointed as the new Catholic Archbishop of Tuam.

One of four Catholic Archbishops in Ireland, one in each province, he succeeds Archbishop Michael Neary who, after almost three decades service in Tuam and as the longest serving Catholic bishop in Ireland, retires to his native Castlebar Co Mayo.

From Co Cavan, Archbishop Duffy was ordained in 1982 after attending St Patrick’s College in Cavan town and Maynooth.

In 2008, following 12 years as principal of Fatima and Felim’s Secondary School, Ballinamore, Co Leitrim, he was appointed diocesan secretary, financial administrator and chancellor of Kilmore diocese as well as to Laragh parish in Cavan. In October 2013, he was ordained Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, based in Longford town.

Speaking at a Mass in Tuam Cathedral on Wednesday morning to mark his appointment, he thanked his predecessor Archbishop Neary, saying: “I follow in the footsteps of a true shepherd who has led this diocese with great wisdom, sensitivity, and faithfulness for 27 years as Archbishop.”

He continued: “I come today as a Cavan man, from Bawnboy in the parish of Templeport, where I was born and raised”. He said he felt “a little sad at leaving my own diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois”, but “Pope Francis has asked me to go further west, to be Archbishop of Tuam, in this beautiful part of the country, stretching from the islands off the west coast to Mountbellew, and on to the island parish of Moore.”

To the people of the Archdiocese, he said: “I will be on the highways and byways and the boats to visit the people in their parishes as soon as possible. So Google maps will be my go-to page for some time.”

Tuam Archdiocese includes one of the largest Gaeltachta in Ireland and he began and ended his address in Irish, concluding “caithfidh me stopadh anois; tá neart paiceál le déanamh agam i Longfort. Níl uaim anois ach an Spioraid Naomh do mo stiriú agus learscáil maith chun mé a threorú ar fud na deoise. (I have to stop now; I’ve packing to do in Longford. All I have are the Holy Spirit to direct me and a good map to find my way around the diocese.)”

Welcoming his successor, Archbishop Neary said “your many gifts, your reputation as a hard-working, kind and generous pastoral leader - as well as being a popular bishop amongst your priests and people - precedes you.”

Archbishop Neary was certain “that you will receive generous assistance and support from people in every corner of the Archdiocese, as I have received it, and I will also support and assist you in every way I can.”

Wishing the new Archbishop “every blessing”, Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin paid tribute to Archbishop Neary’s “natural humility, kindness of spirit and decisiveness”.

He highlighted the outgoing Archbishop’s “dedication to our emigrant population abroad” and his work with brother bishops in the West of Ireland to support the operation of Developing The West Together. He also drew attention to Archbishop Neary’s success in popularising Knock Shrine and pilgrimages to Croagh Patrick, both which are in Tuam Archdiocese.