New bishop for Achonry

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Mgr Brendan Kelly, parish priest of Spiddal, County Galway, is to be the new bishop of Achonry, it was announced yesterday.  He succeeds Bishop Thomas Flynn, who retires as he is over seventy five.

Welcoming the decision, Mgr Kelly’s local bishop, Bishop Martin Drennan, said that he was “ a man of deep spirituality, blessed with a great love for the Church. He brings a wealth of experience to his new ministry.”

The Primate of All Ireland, Dr Séan Brady, described Mgr Kelly as “ a man of prayer, filled with love for the Word of God and the pastoral care of people.  His many years in teaching and education in Coláiste Éinde, Galway, and Our Lady's College, Gort, have prepared him well for the challenges that lie ahead.” 

The cardinal elect wished  him many blessings and said he looked forward to working with him in the Conference of Bishops.

In his message Dr Brady also extended his good wishes to Bishop Flynn. “I wish him good health and happiness as he retires after thirty years of faithful service to the people of Achonry.”

Speaking to ciNews, Bishop Flynn said he would miss the work of bishop. “But I have reached a stage where it becomes difficult to do all that is expected of me.”

He said  his time as bishop had been a happy one, and that he had tried to preach the Gospel.  His advice to the new incoming bishop was simple: “Always preach the Gospel, by word and example.”

Earlier both men attended a press conference at Ballaghaderreen where Bishop Flynn warmly welcomed Mgr Kelly to the diocese.

Mgr Kelly said he looked forward to working in the diocese and would concentrate his initial efforts on getting to know the priests and the people of the diocese.  "My future is among them", he said.  He believes much of his immediate future will involve listening and learning and commented that it is strange to be back in a learning situation again.

"Change, though difficult can be relished", continued Monsignor Kelly "and I welcome new beginnings.  I feel I need a lot of help and support and have a strong sense that I will receive these here in Achonry".

"I have always sought to preach the Gospel and am convinced that the Lord works best with vessels of clay.  I hope and pray I can live in response to this call.  As a priest, I have prayed at Mass every day for the bishop and now understand a bit more perhaps, why!"

A date for the Episcopal Ordination of Mgr Kelly will be set when the new bishop takes formal possession of the diocese, but until then Bishop Flynn will continue as the Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Achonry.
Mgr Brendan Kelly was born at Derrybrien, Loughrea, Co Galway, on 20 May 1946. The second of nine children, he studied at St Mary’s College Galway, and for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College Maynooth. He was ordained for the diocese of Galway in 1971.

Having served for a year as Curate in the Parish of Kinvara, Co Galway, he held a number of academic posts at Coláiste Éinde, and in Our Lady’s College, Gort, of which he was subsequently President from 1986 to 1995.
During a Sabbatical year in 1995, he served as Chaplain to the L’Arche community at Cuise-la-Motte in France. 

On his return he served in two parishes as parish priest, Lisdoonvarna and Spiddal. In 2005 he was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of Galway by the Most Rev Martin Drennan, and on 6 March 2006, Pope Benedict XVI conferred upon him the honour of Chaplain of His Holiness, or Monsignor.
The diocese he now takes over, has 47 Catholic churches, and 23 parishes, which are served by 39 priests. The diocese covers  part of the counties of Mayo, Roscommon and Sligo, with a Catholic population of 35,224.