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A Easpaig, muintir Cill Áirne, muintir Deoise Ciarraí, gach duine atá baillithe, Dia dhiobh go léir ar maidin. Is mór an onóir dom gur iarr ár bPapa Prionsias orm bheith mar Easpaig anseo i Deoise Ciarrraí.
Bishop Murphy, people of Killarney, people of Kerry diocese, fellow priests, all who are gathered, good morning to you all and God bless you.
I am deeply honoured that Pope Francis has chosen me to be your Bishop. It is with great humility I present myself to you today. I am conscious of the great diocese this is. I am conscious of the way the faith has been lived in all the parishes, church areas, religious houses and communities, schools, and all the faith communities throughout the diocese by this and previous generations.
My name is Father Ray Browne. I was ordained a priest for Elphin Diocese in 1982. You probably are not familiar with Elphin diocese. Elphin is a village in mid Co Roscommon and the diocese consists of most of County Roscommon and a heavily populated area around Sligo town where the Cathedral is. I come from the small part of the diocese that is in Co Westmeath, part of Athlone town. I have three sisters and three brothers. Of my thirty one years as a priest, I spent thirteen in Galway city doing Canon Law work, the rest I have spent as a school chaplain and in parish work.
I do have connections with Munster. I studied for three years in UCC doing a science degree. My mother’s native place was the Galtee mountains and the Glen of Aherlow on the Tipperary-Limerick border. As children the only holidays we knew were an annual week or ten days there, wonderful memories. The South of Ireland for me always means happy memories. The parish I am in now runs along the Shannon at Ballyleague, Roscommon. The waters that flow by run out to the ocean by the northerly tip of Kerry diocese.
My knowledge of Kerry dates mostly from my years as a student. I have happy memories of spending three weeks here in the Kerry Gaeltacht to benefit my Irish, courtesy of the UCC Irish Department. My Irish needs to be renewed again. I have a clear memory of thirty five years ago and my first visit to Gallarus oratory – has it seen well over a thousand years of lived faith in Jesus? Coming to Kerry now, I will finally get to achieve a lifelong ambition to put ashore on Sceilig Mhichíl – those monks by their lives gave centuries of honour and praise to God. Two years ago I was at Ardfert Cathedral and monastic site, in the hallowed ruins you can feel the centuries of lived faith.
Many of you have just celebrated the 10.30am Mass. God’s Word to us all in today’s Gospel is Jn 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love”. Let that be God’s Word to us all as I come among you as bishop. Let us all more and more seek to “remain in his love”. If only we could fully appreciate that love. Jesus came to reveal and make real in all of our lives the love of God the Father for us all.
Remember the word of Jesus in Jn 10:10, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full”. God the Father wants that all of us would know life in its fullness, that all of us would live our full human potential in peace and harmony. I am very conscious today of the ongoing economic situation of our country and how it has impacted on so many in every town, village and town-land throughout Ireland. I am sure Kerry is no different. So many are out of work; so many are in major financial difficulty; our young adults, many highly qualified, cannot get a first job; many young people are emigrating. Please God all in our country, at national and local level, will work together selflessly for the good of all to give hope to all. That is basic to our Christian duty, Jesus is ever encouraging us “love one another”.
Returning to the Word, “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full”, there are many other difficult situations for us as a people that I could mention. On this day I mention just one other: ‘Life in its fullness’ points to the fundamental right to life of every human being from the moment of conception in our mother’s womb to the moment of our natural death. We are all aware that the weeks ahead will be a decisive time for Ireland in this regard. There will be a National Prayer Vigil at Knock this Saturday afternoon where the Church will gather from all over Ireland in prayer. Please God the whole Church will be well represented there. I urge people to travel to Knock. The theme of the Vigil is ‘Choose life, mother and baby, we cherish them both’.
A few thoughts to finish. I want to pay tribute to Bishop William Murphy for his years of wonderful, dedicated service to Kerry diocese both as Bishop and priest. I wish him every happiness and blessing in the years ahead. Likewise I pay tribute to all who, year in year out, give so generously of their time, energy and love to the Church in Kerry, especially your priests and religious. It is not an easy time for priests and religious. My first task will be to go among you and to get to know you all: parishes, people and priests.
I want to pay tribute to say thank you to all back in my own diocese of Elphin. They have been my whole life and they have been very good to me. It is not easy to suddenly depart from them. I ask you all to pray for me and to pray for the Church in both dioceses, Kerry and Elphin. In this worldwide Year of Faith let us all always seek to live by faith, hope and love, let us have time each day to spend in prayer with the Lord who so loves us. In all we do let us be gentle, kind, caring and sensitive, as Jesus was.
Finally, as we go forth this day let us carry in our hearts today’s Gospel: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love”.
Saint Brendan, pray for us.
Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for us.