I join with the people, clergy and religious of the Diocese of Kilmore in offering my warm appreciation and very best wishes to Bishop Leo O’Reilly whose resignation has been accepted by Pope Francis today. Bishop Leo has remained completely committed to the demands of his episcopal office and he has been unflinching in his service, not only to the Diocese of Kilmore, but also to his many national roles and responsibilities.
As President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, I thank Bishop Leo for his insightful contributions to our discussions at the conference table, and also for his warmth and fraternal encouragement to me and to the other bishops. Bishop Leo’s ministry has been characterised by a compassionate and pastoral instinct together with a real empathy for those who are struggling with life and faith. He has been unafraid to speak from the heart, with courage and conviction, on a wide range of issues of concern to Church and society: on behalf of unborn and vulnerable human life, on child safeguarding, social inequality and justice and peace. His presence and wisdom will be greatly missed at the quarterly meetings of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.
Over the past twenty years as bishop he has undertaken a variety of national responsibilities, including service on the Episcopal Commission for Liturgy and the Episcopal Council for Research & Development. However it is his huge contribution to Catholic education that will be his enduring legacy. This springs from his vision of a family of Catholic schools across the country which are devoted to the education of the whole person and committed to tolerance, justice and the common good. Bishop Leo has remained steadfast in his determination to support the right of parents to have their children educated in accordance with their religious convictions.
As Bishop Leo now retires I trust that he will be supported by the continued prayers and affection of the people, priests and religious of the Diocese of Kilmore. I offer my prayers for Bishop Leo and wish him every happiness and improved health, away from the demands and worries of administration. Most of all I look forward to our continued friendship in the years ahead.