The new Bishop of Kilmore has told society to place its trust in Christ as it moves forward into the unknown.
“The chaos brought about by Covid-19 has affected all our plans, my plans, yet I have been hearing a voice saying, ‘it will all work out’!” the newly ordained Bishop Martin Hayes said during his episcopal ordination in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick & Saint Felim, Cavan, on Sunday 20th September.
Reiterating that we are living through “strange times”, Bishop Hayes said he had hoped to “have all the cousins, friends and parishioners of Kilmore” present for his ordination but plans had to be changed due to restrictions put in place to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The new bishop expressed his delight that almost all of his immediate family were able to be present in the cathedral for his big day but those who were unable to be there in person, including family, friends and parishioners, were still able to be a part of it via an online stream.
“In fact, we are connecting with more people as we celebrate our bonds with family, friends, and parishioners at home,” he said.
“Home is where I was shaped and formed in Newhill/Borris, Two-Mile-Borris in Co Tipperary and of course, I remember my parents, Dan and Mary Agnes, my late sister Mary, brother-in-law, Donal, Auntie Dakie/Sister Annunciata in a special way today and all our Faithful Departed.
“We remember those who have died due to Covid-19, all the bereaved and all who are sick at this time. In these difficult times, we find ourselves at ‘home’ – ‘appreciating even more where we have come from’ – home being ‘the domestic Church’.”
Acknowledging the fact that Covid-19 is a “world-wide phenomenon”, Bishop Hayes stressed that “we are all in the same situation, struggling to contain the virus and so there is a sense of solidarity in keeping each other safe – we are in this together, learning from each other, though struggling to find a ‘new normal’.”
The newly ordained bishop pointed out that the whole world is in a time of transition, as the “old order has not just been disturbed” but it has been “thrown into chaos”.
“There is no going back to the old order and so we are in disorder,” he said. “Yes, we are having conversations, discussions, formulating plans and roadmaps, changing them, rewriting them, floundering, coming up with new plans – we are realising that we are not totally in charge of our own destiny.”
Revealing that he has been hearing a voice saying ‘it will all work out’, Bishop Hayes admitted that there have been times when he has found himself asking whether the voice knew what it was saying.
“Indeed, as I reflect upon how my life has changed in the past few months, I have asked myself do I know what is ahead? The answer is ‘No’! Is it going to work out for me, for us? Yes. It is a process,” he said.
“Where are we going? I am not sure,” the bishop continued. “We are at a crossroads, a crossroads – we have been called to reflect upon life, our priorities and we have had to make decisions.”
Citing Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’, he noted that society is now awaiting and entering a time of reorder in the world, “our Common Home”.
“We go forward into the unknown, into this disorder or liminal space trusting in the Cross of Jesus Christ, the same Jesus Christ who has been with us from the beginning and who came among us to be with us, as one of us, in response to God’s love for all of us,” he added.
While acknowledging the challenges of Covid-19, Bishop Hayes pointed out that “We are on a journey together, a pilgrim people, sustained by Jesus Christ in the Eucharist”, as he stressed how important it is that “we need to continue to meet in faith, to encourage each other, to hear God’s Word, to have conversations about that Word and to be nourished by Jesus who gave of Himself completely for us”.
“Yes, Covid-19 presents challenges and obstacles for all of us here in getting out to meet each other to celebrate our faith in the diocese of Kilmore. It is my intention to get out among you in our parish communities and I look forward to finding my feet among you,” he said.
“I know of the tradition of faith rooted in the scriptures and expressed in the pastoral planning as promoted by my predecessor Bishop Emeritus Leo O’Reilly will provide the foundation for whatever happens as we remember to depend absolutely upon God’s loving presence among us.
“Finally, we are loved by God, sustained by Jesus in the Eucharist and inspired by the Holy Spirit as a pilgrim people on a journey together, called to listen to each other, to draw upon the gifts of each other and to celebrate our place in and responsibility for God’s creation.”
During his homily, the Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, told Bishop Hayes that one of his tasks as a bishop, both during the Covid-19 crisis and in the future, will be to build unity and to foster communion.
“During the past six months we have seen the amazing power of social media to build connections and facilitate worship but sadly there are those who use social media to create, what Pope Francis has referred to, as ‘closed circuits’ which generate prejudice and fear, pulling and pushing others to extremes,” he said.
“As bishop, you must discern wisely the will of God and build bridges – both online and offline. Be a reconciler, a healer and a peacemaker. Be like a skilled ‘pruner’ in the vineyard who can carefully cultivate new and healthy growth in the branches.”
Picture: The three consecrating bishops from left, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland; the Primate of All-Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin; the newly ordained Bishop of Kilmore, Martin Hayes; and the Archbishop of Cashel & Emly, Kieran O’Reilly. (John McElroy).