A Dublin parish is this week celebrating news that a former altar boy is to become one of 17 new cardinals elevated by Pope Francis next month.
Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas, Texas, a native Dubliner who was born and raised in Drimnagh, was already a cause for celebration at Our Lady of Good Counsel church due to his appointment in August as head of the new Vatican department for laity, family and life.
Now, with his name included in the list of those set to join the College of Cardinals on November 19, the parish is on a high once again.
“The people of the parish are absolutely delighted,” said Canon John Flaherty of Our Lady of Good Counsel. “Those attending the first morning Mass after the announcement were all talk of the news. It has given the parish a real lift.”
Canon Flaherty went on to point out that Drimnagh now holds the distinction as a parish which can lay claim to not one, but two high-ranking prelates at the Vatican, given that Bishop Farrell’s brother, Bishop Brian Farrell, is secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The two Farrell brothers, Canon Flaherty explained, hail from Galtymore Park in Drimnagh, and were born into “a faith-filled family. Their mother came to Mass every day, and all the brothers served as altar boys as Our Lady of Good Counsel.”
The family continues to be active in parish life, he added, not least through the McCauley Centre, which caters to the needs of elderly parishioners.
Bishop Kevin and his brother are “real Dubs”, Canon Flaherty explained, pointing to a much-remembered event during the Eucharistic Congress of 2012 when the brothers returned to the parish to celebrate Mass, “with Bishop Brian acting as principal celebrant and Bishop Kevin delivering the homily”.
Adding his own congratulations for Bishop Farrell, Canon Flaherty said, “I’m personally delighted for him. Between him and Bishop Brian, you could not meet two nicer men.”
He joked that, based on Drimnagh’s “winning ways” in Rome, he is tempted to place an early bet now on Cardinal Farrell rising to become Ireland’s first native Pope.
For his part, Bishop Farrell reacted to news of his elevation in a statement issued through the Diocese of Dallas.
“I am humbled by the news this morning that our Holy Father Pope Francis has named me to the College of Cardinals,” he said. “I ask all in the [diocese] to please pray for me that I may to the best of my ability fulfil this sacred duty to our Church.”
Another of the cardinals-elect who has links to Ireland is Bishop Maurice Piat CSSp of Mauritius who first professed at the Spiritan novitiate in Co. Tipperary before studying for the priesthood at Kimmage Manor in Dublin between 1962 and 1968.