Tuesday, July 01, 2008

New Bishop of Down and Connor ordained

Monsignor Noel Treanor was Sunday ordained as the new Bishop of Down and Connor to succeed Bishop Patrick Walsh who has retired. Bishop Treanor, a native of Tyholland, Co Monaghan, was ordained in St Peter’s Cathedral in west Belfast.

Bishop Treanor, who is 57, is taking over the second largest diocese in Ireland.

For the past 19 years he was based in Brussels working with the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the European Community.

Among the many dignitaries who attended the ordination were President Mary McAleese and the Catholic Primate Cardinal Sean Conway who said the new bishop was taking on a weighty responsibility, and that some of his work would be preaching the faith to people who were “nominally Christian”.

“It is a task of being a teacher of doctrine, a priest of sacred worship and a minister of governance for a diocese of some 300,000 people,” said Cardinal Brady.

The Cardinal wished Bishop Walsh well in his retirement and assured Bishop Treanor that he would have the “fervent prayers and loyal assistance of a wonderful group of priests and religious as well as the enthusiastic support of thousands of good and generous and faith-filled laity”.

Cardinal Brady told Bishop Treanor that there were Christian roots on the island that were in constant need of nourishing. “I am confident that your own vast experience of living and working in Europe will have an important contribution to make to that nourishing. Your work on the international scene, in defence of life, in support of family, in promoting ecumenical relations, will prove invaluable to you in the years that lie ahead,” he said.

Cardinal Brady said that Ireland, as well as sending missionaries to Europe, also in return, received help from Europe in times of need, in the form of new initiatives and new ideas. “In these post-Lisbon Treaty Referendum days it could be salutary for all of us to reflect on that European help and to consider what help we might accept today,” he said.

The Cardinal added, “Every bishop has to take up the task of preaching, sanctifying and governing. The work of preaching of the faith is to lead new disciples to Christ. This may be primarily missionary work but increasingly it concerns those who are nominally Christian. All of this involves a call to our own personal holiness. Before we can think of leading anyone to Christ we ourselves must know the way.”

Bishop Treanor said in the weeks and months since his appointment as Bishop-elect of Down and Connor he had “a keen and betimes slightly disconcerting sense of the immense challenges which lie in store”.

He said many journalists understandably had asked him what particular issues he would focus upon. “Rest assured: I do not come with pre-conceived plans,” he said. “My intention is rather to listen and to do my best to hear and understand - and to do so for as long as it takes to gain a sense of what is in your hearts and minds as the clergy and laity of this diocese, my new home. Together we shall have to decipher with prayer, study, analysis and imagination how the Gospel of Christ can best be proclaimed in our time.”

Among the attendance today were Cardinal Cahal Daly, Cardinal Desmond Connell, Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, and Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland.

Also attending the ordination were Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith, new Sinn Féin lord mayor of Belfast Tom Hartley, junior minister in the Northern Executive Gerry Kelly, and the Irish and British ambassadors to the Vatican, Noel Fahey and Francis Campbell.
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