MORE than 5,000 people logged onto the Ennis Parish website on Sunday last to watch the ordination ceremony of the new Bishop of Killaloe, Kieran O’Reilly.
The ceremony began at 3pm and ended shortly after 5.30pm but the streaming began as the first dedicated ticketed members of the congregation started to arrive from 1pm.
“We were very conscious of the huge interest that was in the ordination. It became clear early on when we issued the tickets to the parishes that there was such huge demand for them that we couldn’t accommodate all the people who wanted to be here,” explained Fr Brendan Quinlivan, Killaloe Diocesan Communications Officer, after the ceremony.
The Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul in Ennis, the diocesan seat, holds approximately 1,300 people but according to Fr Quinlivan, this was just a fraction of those who wished to view the ordination.
“It had always been part of our plan to broadcast the ceremony on Clare FM as we had done so often before but of course new technology and the ability to stream the ordination live onto the web using the television cameras was just a gift for us. I think we were justified in doing it because something in the region of 5,000 people logged on to the internet for the duration of the ceremony,” he revealed.
It was not only those from the parishes in the diocese and from Bishop O’Reilly’s own home county of Cork that watched the ceremony online, there was also an international audience.
“Many of Bishop Kieran’s confreres are in Africa, Asia, America, Latin America and India and many of them are now using the new technologies to communicate and to keep in touch. So it was absolutely fantastic that they could tune in to see what was happening. Of all the things we did, I am so pleased that that worked so well and that so many opted to log on,” Fr Quinlivan said.
The streaming of ordinations is not particularly unusual. The ordination of Bishop of Clogher Liam McDaid in July was streamed on the diocesan website. Fr Quinlivan believes that the Church should use modern technology more often to reach out to people.
“The Church’s business is communication. The Church is about preaching the gospel and communicating the love of God and all of these things, these means of communication, are the medium. We need to be at the cutting edge of these things. We need to be able to use these technologies to further our own mission and our own ministry. It is the mission of the Church to use every means at its disposal to preach the gospel, including the new technologies,” Fr Quinlivan concluded.
Meanwhile, Bishop Kieran O’Reilly barely had time to catch his breath after his ordination on Sunday before beginning his official duties. This week, he began his quest to get to know the diocese and his parishioners, something which he is keen to do as quickly as he can.
Bishop O’Reilly added it is nice for him to be based back in Ireland, allowing him to contribute to the Catholic Church here and to see more of his own family, especially his parents.
“At this stage of my life, I’ve been travelling for years and it’s lovely now to be closer to my parents especially, who both have been unwell in recent times. The new Shannon tunnel is making my trips up and down to Cork much easier. I’m very lucky that I will be able to see than a lot more than I have for years now,” he said.
He said that up until now, Bishop Willie Walsh had been very much involved in the diocese, helping him to settle in.
“This will be my first week going solo as bishop. I have a meeting for newly ordained bishops in Rome next week, which will last for 10 days. From Rome, I’ll come back here for a short time and then I’m off to Lourdes in October for the diocesan pilgrimage. I’m very much looking forward to that. It will be a great opportunity to get to know some members of this diocese better and to work with some of the priests and community representatives from many parts of the diocese,” the bishop said.
The new bishop admitted it came as a big surprise to him to be appointed as a bishop in Ireland.
“I would have taken on the challenge wherever the location was but I thought if the opportunity was presented to me that it would most likely be overseas. In saying that, while I loved my missionary work, at least a part of my heart was always in Ireland, so it’s amazing to come back to serve here now,” he said.
He added that it is very important to him to know the priests who serve in the diocese and the people who live here, so that he can best serve them.
“It’s also very important to me to have a good relationship with other Christian churches. We all live in common witness of Christ. There are too many divisions in this world and I don’t want those between different churches to be an issue. By working together, more can be achieved, enabling us to understand together who the Lord is,” he commented.
In terms of issues which have arisen within the Catholic Church in Ireland in recent years, Bishop O’Reilly said he understood that they present all Church leaders with challenges in fulfilling their role and reaching out to parishioners.
“I’m not quite sure yet how I will deal with these challenges but I pray for God’s guidance in all that I do. It is a question that I would prefer to answer in time, as I need time to figure out how to deal with different matters,” he remarked.