The installation of Fr Fintan Monahan as Bishop of Killaloe could hardly have been a more inclusive affair, and that’s how Ireland’s newest bishop wanted it – a big believer in episcopal consultation, he made it clear in advance of his ordination Mass that he wanted his ceremonial installation as bishop to draw together all the diocese.
The bulk of the congregation in Ennis’s Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul were family and friends of the popular bishop, but the ceremony was marked for the involvement of others he might not have known so well, whether they were the young people of the Kilmore Diocesan Youth Council who prepared the altar, children from St Anne’s Special School in Roscrea who accompanied the Invocation of the Holy Spirit with liturgical movement, or members of the Travelling and Polish communities who formally greeted the new bishop after he had received his ring, mitre, and crozier.
The chief ordaining priest at the ceremony was Bishop Fintan’s predecessor in Killaloe, Cashel & Emly’s Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, assisted by the Archbishop of Tuam – Bishop Fintan’s previous diocese – Dr Michael Neary and the papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, in the presence of a host of other bishops and clergy, there to lay hands on the new bishop and concelebrate his first Mass as bishop.
Among those present were Bishop Fintan’s parents Peg and Tom, and his siblings Seán and Catríona, with his father and sister reading the First and Second Readings, and if any aspect of the ceremony is likely to stick in the mind more than the glorious music from the six combined choirs, with accompany musicians, it will be the challenging, rousing and sometimes hilarious homily from Bishop Fintan’s old friend, Canon Brendan Kilcoyne of Athenry.
“We will not be led by small men,” he said, calling on the new bishop to lead from the front. “You must have more than we need,” he said.
As for the new bishop, he seemed ready to face his new challenge, listening keenly, smiling firmly, and laughing often through Fr Brendan’s homily.
Afterwards, in mapping out his major priorities for the diocese, he admitted to failing to invite Pope Francis to Killaloe “if he decides to come to Ireland” for 2018’s World Meeting of Families, but he said he’d have another chance to speak to him in January during the Irish bishops’ Ad Limina visit to Rome.
The queue to meet the new bishop after Mass could hardly have been longer: he already looks an inspired and popular choice.