Following the acceptance by Pope Francis of the retirement of Bishop Leo O’Reilly as Bishop of Kilmore on 31 December last, the College of Consultors of the Diocese of Kilmore, met today in Cavan, in accordance with its rights and duties under Canon Law, and elected Monsignor Liam Kelly, Vicar General and Parish Priest of Killsherdany and Drung, Co Cavan, to be Diocesan Administrator. He takes up his responsibilities immediately.
The election of a Diocesan Administrator is a function of the Diocesan College of Consultors and is governed by provisions in the Code of Canon Law (1983).
As Diocesan Administrator, Monsignor Kelly will have responsibility for administering the day to day affairs of the diocese of Kilmore until a new bishop is appointed by Pope Francis. In his role as Administrator, he will also attend the quarterly meetings of the Irish Bishop’s Conference in Maynooth.
Speaking after the meeting, Monsignor Kelly said that he was honoured to accept the role of Diocesan Administrator and would endeavour to serve the diocese until a new bishop is appointed. He thanked and paid tribute to Bishop O’Reilly, who had served the diocese as bishop for 22 years, which had been very challenging in the life of the Church in Ireland. Monsignor Kelly said, “It has been a privilege for me to have worked with Bishop Leo, to have learned from his example of generous service, and to have benefited from his great kindness and support. I wish him happiness in his retirement and pray that he will enjoy good health and every blessing in the years ahead.”
Monsignor Kelly thanked the College of Consultors for their support and good wishes, and asked for the prayers and support of the priests and people of the diocese in the time ahead.
The new Diocesan Administrator is a native of County Leitrim. He was educated in Saint Patrick’s College, Cavan and Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He was ordained a priest for the diocese of Kilmore in 1978 and since then has taught in Saint Aidan’s Comprehensive School, Cootehill and Saint Patrick’s College, Cavan and has ministered in several parishes in County Cavan. He was appointed Vicar General of the Diocese of Kilmore in 2015. He is a noted historian and has written several books, his most recent one being The Diocese of Kilmore c,1100-1800 which was published in 2017. He is currently editing, along with Dr Brendan Scott, a book on the history of Leitrim which is due out later this year. Monsignor Kelly will continue to minister as parish priest of Kilsherdany and Drung.
The Diocese of Kilmore encompasses most of County Cavan, the northwestern part of County Leitrim and portions of Counties Meath, Fermanagh and Sligo. It comprises 34 parishes and has a Catholic population of some 69,000. The diocesan patron is Saint Felim and the Cathedral, located in Cavan, is dedicated to Saint Patrick and Saint Felim.
The relevant Church legislation covering the period of a vacant see is provided in Canons 416-430 of the Code of Canon Law (1983), along with the provisions set out in paragraphs 235-246 of the Appendix to the Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops – Apostolorum Successores (2004).