Pope Francis nominated a new Bishop of the Diocese of Kilmore, Ireland, on Monday, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Father Martin Hayes, a priest of the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly, became Bishop-elect.

In his first comments to the media after being appointed, Father Hayes said “it is a great honour and I am very conscious of the rich tradition of the faith of the people of Kilmore. I am privileged to be chosen by Pope Francis and I feel very humbled”.

The Bishop-elect added: “I am aware of the time invested in pastoral planning in Kilmore and the efforts to respond in changing times with a mission that can be effective and relevant”.

“The Church of the future is about the increased involvement of lay people; of people and priests working together. My brief, initially, will be to listen, learn and perhaps draw upon my recent experience with others of pastoral planning in Cashel & Emly”, Hayes declared.

“My hope and prayer is that we can work together here in Kilmore with the help of the good Lord to nurture the faith and continue to ensure a place of welcome and hospitality for all”, the Bishop-elect went on.

He emphasised that it was his intention to make of the local Church under his leadership “a refuge of healing and encouragement with space for all who are searching for meaning, especially, as we emerge tentatively from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Welcoming Hayes’ appointment, Apostolic Administrator of Kilmore Monsignor Liam Kelly said “today is a happy day for the Diocese of Kilmore and we are grateful to God and to all who helped bring it about”.

Bishop Emeritus Leo O’Reilly also extended his congratulations to Hayes, and assured his successor “of my prayerful support” and “every blessing and happiness in his new role”.

For his part, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland and President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, praised Hayes’ “considerable pastoral experience and interest in youth, vocation, marriage and family issues”, saying that those skills “will be of great benefit not only to his leadership and pastoral care in the Diocese of Kilmore, but will also bring fresh ideas and insights to our discussions at the Bishops’ Conference”.

“I look forward to working alongside Bishop-elect Hayes in the Irish Bishops’ Conference and I pray that his new patrons, Saint Patrick and Saint Felim, will guide him in his ministry”, Archbishop Martin concluded.

A brief biography of the Bishop-elect

Acording to a brief biography offered by Vatican News, Bishop-elect Martin Hayes was born in Borris (Newhill) on 24 October 1959.

He received his primary school education in Saint Kevin’s National School, Littleton, and secondary school education in CBS, Thurles.

He graduated from NIHE Limerich, now the University of Limerick, with a BS in Manufacturing Technology.

Bishop-elect Martin entered Saint Patrick’s College seminary, Thurles, in September 1983.

He was ordained a deacon on 4 April 1988, and to the priesthood on 10 June 1989 by Archbishop Dermot Clifford.

Father Martin obtained a Licentiate in Philosophy in Rome, in 1991, while staying at the Pontifical Irish College.

Subsequently he served as as curate to Thurles Parish with responsibility for Saints Joseph & Brigid Church, Bothar na Naomh and as an active member of the ‘Cashel & Emly Ongoing Formation and Education of Priests Committee’ in 2003.

In July 2007, the Bishop-elect was appointed Administrator of the Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles.

He was then appointed in August 2017 to the full time position of Director of Pastoral Planning & Development in the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly.

Bishop-elect Hayes served as delegate for the diocese in preparation for the 9th World Meeting of Families and the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland in 2018.

The Diocese of Kilmore has a Catholic population of about 69,000 people, and is served by 51 priests who minister in 35 parishes comprising 95 churches.

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PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.