Kilmore diocese bids farewell to its faithful servant

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

The funeral of Bishop Francis McKiernan, the former Bishop of Kilmore diocese, took place in Cavan earlier this week.  Bishop McKiernan had been bishop of Kilmore for 26 years. He was 79.

The bishop died on 23rd December after a short illness.  “His death makes this a sad Christmas for all of us in the diocese of Kilmore, priests, religious and parishioners,? said  Bishop Leo  O’Reilly who succeeded Bishop McKiernan on his retirement, and who announced the death.

“He will be greatly missed by his former colleagues in the Bishops' Conference who held him in such high esteem and constantly asked after him when I met them.?

Dr Seán Brady, Primate of All Ireland, paid tribute to Bishop MacKiernan as a “man of great kindness, humanity and deep Christian faith who devoted himself entirely to the service of the people of the diocese of Kilmore. I always found him to be a good and generous friend, a wise and gentle mentor, and a faithful servant of Jesus Christ and of the Church,? he said.

Dr Brady said the late bishop would be remembered for his two great passions: education and local history. “All his life he dedicated much time and energy to historical research which really reflected his love of his native Leitrim, of the diocese and for its people,? he said.

Leading the celebration of Mass at his packed funeral on Wednesday (28th December) at St Patrick and Felim's Cathedral in Cavan town were Bishop Leo O'Reilly, the Primate of All Ireland, Sean Brady, the retired bishop of Dublin, Desmond Connell, and the Papal Nuncio, Dr Guiseppe Lazarotto.

Frances MacKiernan was born on the 3 February 1926 in Stradrinan, Aughawillan, Co. Leitrim. He was a student in St Patrick's College, Cavan and St Patrick's College, Maynooth before he was ordained a priest on the 17 June 1951.

He served as curate in the diocese of Down and Connor for one year and in 1952 he was appointed to the staff of St Patrick's College, Cavan, a position he held for ten years. He was the founding president of St Felim's College, Ballinamore, a position he held from 1962 to 1972. In 1972 he was ordained Bishop of the Diocese of Kilmore.

In 1979 he was chairman of the National Committee which organised the visit of Pope John Paul II to Ireland. He was chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Education for many years and played a key part in the setting up of the present structures for the Boards of Management of primary schools.

He retired as bishop of Kilmore in 1998 when he was succeeded by Bishop Leo O'Reilly.

He is survived by his sisters Mary Comey, Killinkere and Ann Lee, New York, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews and relatives, the bishop and priests of Kilmore and his wide circle of friends. He was predeceased by his brother Jim.

Through the  Secretary of State,  Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Pope Benedict XVI conveyed his sincere condolences to all the people of the diocese. “His Holiness offers fervent prayers to God the Father of all mercies for the late Bishop's eternal rest. To his relatives and friends, and to all who mourn his passing, the Holy Father willingly imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and hope in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,? said the message.