Addressing the attendance at the end of the ordination ceremony in St. John’s Cathedral on Sunday, the newly ordained Bishop of Limerick, Dr. Brendan Leahy said that he and all in the Diocese are at the beginning of a new chapter in which there is a great need to reach out to the marginalised and broken in society.  “Where should we start? I was struck recently by the words of Pope Francis when he said ‘start from the outskirts’. Each of us has regions that are ‘outskirts’ – people who are different from us or who we find hard to get on with; groups that we dislike because they have different views than ours; areas that we simply ignore, causes that we know are right but feel lazy about getting involved in.

“In today’s Gospel we have heard an invitation to love “more” and in this way build the Church; and that also means to love more those who are on the outskirts, broken and marginalised.

“I know that many will say ‘but I am only hanging on in faith by my fingernails’. For some it is really difficult to believe. A fellow Irishman, Bono, wrote a song some years ago now. Its words ran something like this: ‘I have climbed highest mountains; I have run through the fields; Only to be with you, Only to be with you; I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls, These city walls, Only to be with you; But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for’.

“I don’t know what Bono had in mind but these words can be applied to the situation many find themselves in with regard to faith. Moments of difficulty are written into the Christian journey of faith. How many saints and exemplary men and women throughout the centuries have told us about shadowy moments they lived through. We can think of the Irish woman and martyr, Margaret Ball, Teresa of Lisieux, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the philosopher, Simon Weil, the young Jewish woman, Etty Hillesum, the recently beatified teenager, Chiara Luce Badano… We can only imagine how much Mary, Jesus’s mother, went through; many trials of faith along her journey.”

Bishop Leahy also spoke of the Church to seek forgiveness for its own sins, particularly in relation to clerical abuse.  “Darkness in our faith journey can affect us individually but also as a group, as a community, as a Church. We know only too well of how many innocent people suffer terrible darkness because of clerical abuse. I want to make their pain my own and seek forgiveness seventy times seven. It is a deep wound also for all of us.

“I have been greatly consoled in getting to know how much has been done in the diocese in the area of child safeguarding. I am deeply indebted to the high professionalism of the many lay men and women involved in our diocesan structures in this regard as in many areas of the diocese. It was good to read the observation made in the Audit by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland that the diocese of Limerick has robust measures in place in the area of child safeguarding and protection.

“We know from the Christian spiritual tradition that trials in the life of faith can be a prelude to a new dawn of light and love.”

Bishop Leahy also thanked the people of the diocese, not least the young, for their support in helping him prepare for his ordination.  “I want to thank the whole diocese, parishes and religious communities for the great outpouring of prayer to the Holy Spirit for me and the diocese in recent months. I thank especially the young people and their teachers for their daily prayers. I am greatly humbled by all the encouragement that has surrounded me in these days and weeks.

“I now feel I am a Limerick man! Limerick is beautiful. I’ll have to start wearing the Limerick colours! I am proud to be bishop of this great diocese with such an ancient history. As a diocese we want to do our part also today to make all of Limerick even greater, as I believe and hope we do, day in, day out, in countless communities of faith and love in parishes, religious orders, communities and movements, schools, hospitals and social initiatives. In so many ways, people are replying positively to Jesus’s question: ‘do you love me?’ Today let’s renew our love of him even more; let’s bridge to make Limerick even more beautiful, so that others will come and see Jesus living among us.”