The New Bishop with his family outside the Cathedral of SS. Patrick & Felim after his ordination



The Episcopal Ordination Mass for the new Bishop of Kilmore, Most Reverend Martin Hayes took place at 3:00p.m. on Sunday 20 September 2020 in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick & Saint Felim, Cavan.  The Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, was the Principal Consecrator and preached the homily. His Excellency Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, with Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA, were the co-consecrators for this Episcopal Ordination.

The new bishop was assisted by the Very Reverend James Purcell, P.P. Thurles in the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly and by the Very Reverend Canon John O’Shea, P.P. Raheen in the Diocese of Limerick.

Also in the sanctuary were bishops who are natives of the diocese – Cardinal Seán Brady Archbishop-Emeritus of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland; the former Bishop of Kilmore, Bishop Leo O’Reilly; Bishop Francis Duffy of Ardagh & Clonmacnois; Bishop Michael Router, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Armagh, as well as Monsignor Liam Kelly who served as Diocesan Administrator since the retirement of Bishop Leo O’Reilly.

Bronagh Prunty from the parish of Knockninny in Co. Fermanagh and Secretary of the Diocesan Pastoral Council welcomed all present on behalf of the priests, religious and lay people of the diocese.  (See text of her welcoming remarks below).

The first reading was read by Emma Hayes, a niece of the new bishop.  The second reading was read by Irene Thomas from the Cathedral Parish of Urney and Annagelliff. 

A beautiful liturgical movement performed by Hannah Murphy, Orla O’Brien, Emer Ronan, Oliviwa Wzorek, and Evon Smyth accompanied the procession of the Book of the Gospels.

The gospel was read by the Reverend Thomas Small, a deacon who will be ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Hayes in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Belturbet, on Sunday 27 September next.

Following the proclamation of the Gospel, the bishop-elect was presented for ordination on behalf of the Church of Kilmore by Monsignor Liam Kelly.

The Apostolic Mandate from Pope Francis was then read by Monsignor Kelly, appointing Father Martin Hayes as bishop and mandating his ordination. This was followed by the consent of the people. In this way the unity of the local and the universal Church is affirmed.

Archbishop Eamon Martin’s homily followed. (See text of his homily below)

The Litany of the Saints included invocations to saints associated with the Diocese of Kilmore and the Archdiocese of Cashel & Emly as well as some of the new bishop’s choice.

After the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination, the new bishop received his ring, mitre and crozier, the symbols of his office as bishop (See for more information regarding these symbols).

He was then led by Archbishop Martin to the ‘cathedra’, the seat he will occupy as Bishop of Kilmore. At the Cathedra, Bishop Martin exchanged the Sign of Peace with members of the College of Bishops present, demonstrating his communion with them and the communion of the Church of Kilmore with the universal Church.

Following Holy Communion and before the final blessing, the new bishop addressed the congregation in the Cathedral and those who had followed the ceremony on the internet.  (See text of his address below).

Lucy Ui Mordha provided the commentary during the ceremony.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions the full cathedral choir could not be present though the following members enriched the liturgy with their singing: Carmel O Donoghoe, Martina Doyle, Bridgit Duffy, Ann McKiernan,, Anne McCabe, Ben Charles, Dean McNeill,Terry O’Connor, Brian McKeever, Hugh Cosgrove.  The organist was Thomas Hanley.  Another local aspect of the liturgy was the use of a Mass setting, Aifreann Naomh Padraig is Naomh Feilimidh, composed by Paul Flynn from Cavan Town.

The Cavan parish youth choir also participated in the liturgy: Antonia Hayes (Low whistle), Nikki Sherlock (Keyboard), Aoife Sheridan (Fiddle), Aisling Conaty and Cobhla Surlis (singers).

The altar servers were Niamh Brady, Ava Shiels, Katie Leddy & Saoirse O’Reilly.

Fr. Kevin Fay, Cathedral Administrator, was Master of Ceremonies assisted by Fr. Peter Okpetu MSP and CC in the Cathedral.

A recording of the Episcopal Ordination Mass can be viewed at



Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Bishop Michael Hayes, and Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA


Welcome Address by Bronagh Prunty, Secretary of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.

 Good afternoon to you all.

My name is Bronagh Prunty.  I come from the parish of Knockninny, one of our parishes in Co. Fermanagh.

As Secretary of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, it is my honour and privilege – on behalf of the priests, religious and people of the diocese – to welcome you all here this afternoon for this historic occasion in the life of the Diocese of Kilmore as we gather to witness the ordination of Father Martin Hayes as our new bishop.

One of the regrettable impacts of the current COVID-19 pandemic has been that the attendance at today’s ceremony has had to be severely cut back due to the current restrictions.  Having said that, I want to extend a very warm Kilmore welcome to Fr. Hayes’ brothers and sisters and their families who are present here today and for whom this is a very special and emotional day.  Unfortunately, neither Fr. Hayes’ brother, Michael, in Holland or his nephew, Darragh, in Germany are able to be here in person with us this afternoon.  We send them our best wishes and assure them of our prayers as they join us for today’s ordination ceremony through the webcam service.

I welcome the friends of Fr. Hayes who are here with us in the Cathedral this afternoon as well as the representative group of his brother priests from both the Diocese of Kilmore and the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly.

A special Ceád Mile Fáilte to those who have joined us online via the webcam or Northern Sound to be part of this special celebration this afternoon.

I welcome

  • Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland
  • Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, and
  • Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly

who are the ordaining prelates today.

I also welcome

  • His Eminence, Cardinal Seán Brady
  • Our Bishop-Emeritus, Bishop Leo O’Reilly
  • Bishop Francis Duffy of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, and
  • Bishop Michael Router, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Armagh

all of whom are natives of the diocese

My final words of welcome this afternoon are directed to you, Fr. Hayes, on whom the fullness of the priesthood will soon be bestowed.  As you take upon your shoulders more completely the yoke of the Good Shepherd, be assured of the prayers of the priests, religious and the lay faithful of your adopted diocese that you will always find a warm welcome here and that your ministry among us may be blessed and fruitful. 

May God bless you, Fr. Hayes, and may he keep you always in his enduring and steadfast love as you serve us as Bishop of Kilmore in the years to come.

Thank you.


Archbishop Eamon Martin presents Bishop Martin with his crozier


Homily preached by Archbishop Eamon Martin

Dear brothers and sisters, fifteen years ago when Pope Benedict XVI first stepped on to the balcony overlooking Saint Peter’s Square, Rome, he expressed surprise that the Cardinals had elected him as Pope. In a reference to today’s Gospel story, he described himself as “a simple and humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord”, who was comforted to know that the Lord can work “even with inadequate instruments”.

Father Martin I am sure, like Pope Benedict and all of us bishops on the day of our ordination, you feel a certain sense of nervousness and trepidation, for we are all “inadequate Instruments” whom the Lord has called. But do not be afraid. God’s grace will guide and strengthen you, and you will be surrounded by encouragement and prayerful support.

You bring to the diocese of Kilmore a depth of pastoral experience and a particular understanding of how to encourage the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church. Your pastoral insights on this matter will also be of great value to the Irish Bishops’ Conference, because we are committed to a ground-up synodal process for new evangelisation and for revitalising the Church in Ireland.

Pope Saint John Paul II once wrote (CL3): “The vineyard is the whole world which is to be transformed according to God’s plan”, and a “multitude of persons, both women and men” are “called and sent forth” by the Lord to labour in this “vast vineyard”.

As bishops we need to find new ways of harnessing the tremendous gifts and charisms of our lay faithful. I think today of a young nurse who told me during the lockdown how the Covid19 crisis has opened her eyes to see her nursing work in a new way – as as her vocation from God. Like thousands of other health workers and carers – many of whom are committed members of our parishes – she has been witnessing powerfully to the tenderness and compassion of God. Others, including many of our young people, have been willing volunteers during the pandemic, reaching out to the lonely and housebound. These are today’s labourers in the vineyard of the Lord. It is our task, as spiritual and pastoral leaders, to help more people to hear and answer the Lord’s invitation: “You go into my vineyard too”!

Today’s psalm response promises “The Lord loves us with an everlasting love”.  In these days of Covid19 many people are struggling with uncertainty and worries about elderly and vulnerable members of their families.  They are concerned about their own health, jobs, and livelihoods, about education and future plans.  One exasperated businessman asked me during the week: “What are we going to do?  What is this all about”?  People are yearning for the consolation and hope that comes from an encounter with the Lord.  They long to know in their hearts, as your own motto puts it, that “the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever”.

I encourage you then, as bishop, to love your people, pray for them and teach them to pray – especially prayer in the home. These past six months have reminded us of the importance of the “domestic Church” – the Church of the sitting room and kitchen!  It has highlighted the vocation of parents as the primary teachers of faith and prayer in the home and family.  That is why I am calling for a “Family Rosary Crusade against Covid” during the month of October.  I would be grateful for your support in encouraging families here, and throughout Ireland, to pray the Rosary each day during October – or even one decade of the Rosary – for themselves, their loved ones and for all those whose health or livelihood is being seriously impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

A striking feature of the Parable of the vineyard, is the way all the workers are treated equally – from those who responded first and laboured all day in the heat, to the latecomers who clocked in at the last minute. Understandably, I suppose, this gave rise to grumbling and complaints.

Pope Francis has explained that what Jesus is doing in the Parable is inviting us to “contemplate the gaze of that landowner: the gaze with which he looks upon each of the labourers searching for work and calls them to go to his vineyard. It is a gaze which is filled with attention, with kindness.  It is a gaze which calls, and invites one to get up and begin a journey because he wants life for each of us; he wants a full, committed life, safe from emptiness and inertia. God excludes no one and wants each one of us to achieve his or her fullness” (Angelus 240917).

Similarly, we bishops are called to be like a loving Father, helping our people and priests to discover their personal vocation from God and be able to contribute their gifts to the growth of the Church.  These days of restrictions and lockdowns are challenging us to find new ways of reaching out.  Viewer statistics from our Church webcams suggest that many thousands of Irish people remain hungry for spiritual nourishment and for the comfort and consolation of God’s Word, even if they may not be regularly attending Mass or the sacraments.

The prophet Isaiah says: “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts”; “God’s ways are not our ways”.  Could it be that during these days of pandemic the Holy Spirit is “tilling the field” again, preparing the vineyard for new growth, and calling new hands to the harvest?

New growth and fresh vitality in the vineyard of the Lord will of course only come about if we remain grafted to the vine, which is Jesus Christ.  If we abide in Him we shall bear fruit. Apart from Him we can do nothing (Jn 15:5).

One of your tasks as a bishop, both during this 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.  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.

At times it will be your duty to correct error and proclaim the truth of the Gospel – whether it is welcome or unwelcome – to proclaim fearlessly, as Saint Paul did to the Philippians: “Avoid anything in your everyday lives that would be unworthy of the gospel of Christ”. So do not be afraid to speak up strongly for the dignity of the human person and for the protection of all human life, especially against public policies that fundamentally contradict the moral law – like abortion and euthanasia.  Work for justice and peace, for solidarity with the poor and the homeless, and compassion for migrants and refugees and other vulnerable and defenceless people. Support marriage and the family and promote respectful care for the Earth, our common home.

In doing this, speak the truths of the Gospel with patience and mercy, understanding that nowadays our message must touch the human heart in order to inspire change and conversion. And keep in mind our own failings – there remains deep hurt and unhealed trauma in Ireland over the sins and crimes of people in the Church.

As you begin your first day as Bishop of Kilmore, there is good reason, then, to remember again those words of Pope Benedict XVI on his first day as Bishop of Rome, when he described himself as a “simple and humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord”, an “inadequate instrument” always in need the help of the Lord and the protection of Mary, our Blessed Mother.  Amen.


The new Bishop of Kilmore, Most Reverend Martin Hayes


Address by Bishop Martin Hayes

I begin by saying thanks to you all for your participation in our liturgy, those who are physically present and all of you who are with us online via our webcam.  I include my family, relations, friends, and the people from around Ireland and the globe – England, Scotland, Holland, Germany, the USA and Australia and, in particular, those from Kilmore and Cashel & Emly.  Thank you for being with us and for being with me on my journey.

I appreciate, in particular, all who have prepared for and participated in our liturgy this afternoon:

  • Archbishop Eamon Martin who has led our ceremony and I thank you for preaching the homily;
  • His Excellency, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, representing Pope Francis – I am grateful for your presence here with us and your kindness over the past few months,
  • Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly, for your inspiring support always and as you represent my priest colleagues and people of Cashel & Emly with whom I have shared 31 good years of ministry;
  • I thank the ‘Kilmore bishops’ for their presence, Cardinal Sean Brady, Bishops Francis Duffy, Michael Router and Bishop Emeritus Leo O’Reilly.  I thank you Bishop Leo, especially, for your welcome, kindly ongoing support and I wish you good health and contentment in your retirement.
  • I am delighted to have a representative group of priests from Kilmore, Cashel & Emly, Limerick and Sacramento together with my immediate family, the Hayes’ of Newhill.
  • I would like to acknowledge the hard-working planning group who have been meeting throughout the summer months and led by Monsignor Liam Kelly.  I would like to thank you Liam for your tremendous dedication to Kilmore diocese and for your time given generously to ensure a smooth transition as I take up my new responsibilities.  
  • I thank the Cathedral personnel led by Father Kevin Fay, Administrator, the staff and the volunteers here at Cavan Cathedral for their attention to detail in all the preparations for today’s ceremony; those who provided a welcome, our choir, readers, our liturgical dancers and sacristy personnel.  A special word for Deacon Thomas Small who will be ordained to the priesthood on next Sunday in Belturbet;
  • Our communications/commentary personnel have grafted diligently so as to ensure that everyone could participate in our celebration today – I say well done and I say thank you as well to our local media and to the Catholic Communications Office, to our stewards and all who are helping to keep us safe in these COVID-19 times.

Yes, once again, we say, ‘these are strange times’!  We have had to change our plans – I had hoped to have all the cousins, friends, and parishioners of Kilmore here – and now, in caring for everyone’s health, we are reaching out to you online.  In fact, we are connecting with more people as we celebrate our bonds with family, friends, and parishioners at home.  I am delighted to have almost all my immediate family here, thinking of you Michael and Darragh in Holland and Germany – we know you are with us in spirit and online.  It is great to have Stella, Agnes, John, Donal, Kieran, their families and Michael’s family with me today.  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’.

Of course, COVID-19 is a world-wide phenomenon, 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’. 

In truth we are all in a time of transition; our old order has not just been disturbed, we have been thrown into chaos, there is no going back to the old order and so we are in disorder.  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.  

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’

There have been times that I asked, does that voice know what it is 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.  Where are we going?  I am not sure.  We are at a crossroads, a crossroads – we have been called to reflect upon life, our priorities and we have had to make decisions.  We are awaiting and entering a time of reorder in our world, as the people of planet Earth – our Common Home, as referred to by Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ and celebrated during September, the Church`s annual `Month of Creation`.  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. 

On the local level here in Kilmore I have received a great welcome and I know that I am among a people of faith and friendship in our parishes in the counties of Cavan, Leitrim, Fermanagh, Sligo and Meath.  I want to assure my family and friends that while Kilmore may be a little further up the road, indeed, the weather may be a little colder – actually, one lady in Tipp told me to bring an extra layered jumper – however, I am assured of warm hearts in the welcome that I have already received.  I have been nurtured in Newhill, grown up in the wider family of Cashel & Emly and now I arrive in the family of Kilmore as Chief Shepherd conscious that I need your support and prayers.

God loves us first; it is not a case of us trying to love God or earn God’s love.  God loves us through the wonder of all creation, from the moment of our conception, in the love of family and friends and we can be assured, in accord with my chosen motto that ‘Good Lord’, “your steadfast love endures” (Ps. 136:6).  The love of God is a constant within the depths of each one of us amid all that is happening around us; it is that spark of the Divine that is within each of us, that voice that says ‘all will be well’ (Julian of Norwich).  After all, each one of us is ‘made in the image and likeness of God’ (Genesis 1:27).  Thomas Merton speaks of, “the gift of my Creator’s Thought and Art within me” (in his poem Hagia Sophia) and alerts us to seeing God in the stars at night and in the light within each person we meet. 

We are on a journey together, a pilgrim people, sustained by Jesus Christ in the Eucharist: 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.  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.

I thank you once again for your prayers and kindness to me, particularly, over the past few months, the cards, the texts, messages, and calls.  Your support has been tremendous, your excitement and joy uplifting – ye’re absolutely mighty!  Now we move to pray the blessings of the Almighty upon ourselves.