Newly ordained Bishop Nash extols the virtues of listening and talking to shape church community in years ahead
THE newly-ordained Bishop of Ferns, Ger Nash has pledged to lead a diocese in seeing, reflecting and acting to ensure it becomes a refuge of healing and encouragement.
Bishop Nash also hopes to provide space for those searching meaning, as Wexford emerged tentatively from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The former Killaloe Diocesan Secretary from Tulla was ordained as the 81st Bishop of Ferns in St Aidan’s Cathedral Enniscorthy on Sunday last.
“I am privileged to have been asked by Pope Francis to lead this historic diocese and I feel very humbled,” he said.
In his wide-ranging address at the Mass celebrating his Episcopal Ordination, Bishop Nash, (62) said he hoped everyone can work together in Ferns with the Spirit of God to to ensure a place of welcome and hospitality for all.
In accordance with Pope Francis’ model in “Let us Dream”, the new bishop would like to lead this diocese in seeing, reflecting and acting so that it become a refuge of healing and encouragement.
“In addition to the voice of the worldwide church under the guidance of Pope Francis and his successors, there are other voices who will need an open ear on our part.
“What is interesting about that is that Pope Francis has called us to be attentive to each one of them already.
“First is the need for a church which has a personal and committed relationship to Jesus Christ, his life and his teachings and to the promise of the resurrection and a kingdom where all our weaknesses of mind and body will vanish.
“Secondly, the voice of the lived experience of people which has rarely been heard or acknowledged and which Pope Francis is now calling the whole Church to address through the process of synodality.
“Another word for synodality is conversations – the kind of conversations, which will bring the reality of people’s lives into engagement with the healing, encouraging but very challenging good news of the Gospel.
“Synodality is God’s people listening together to what the spirit is saying and the key sacrament here is the sacrament of Baptism.”
His third objective is the need to preserve God’s earth.
“In the past 18 months, that voice of our human frailty has spoken and said ‘Stop’. And we have stopped, rich and poor, developed and developing countries, Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere, celebrities and nonentities – all have heard the hidden yet powerful voice of Covid-19, and found a common humanity at some level.
“But recent voices have also said that unless we take serious and immediate action, the generations who come after us will inherit a destroyed earth. As Pope Francis pointed out in Laudato Si, we cannot be God’s people without looking after God’s earth.”
His emblem and motto translates into the peace and companionship of Jesus. Reflecting on his emblem, he said it is symbolised on the central drop of water, recalling Baptism but also joining people to the turbulent sea below it.
The new bishop wants to build a community founded on welcome, learning and prayer where the peace and companionship of Jesus is visible to all.
He was delighted to be joined in the cathedral by his sisters, Teresa and Margaret, Teresa’s husband, Jim and their daughter, Niamh.
He remembered his late parents, Tommy and Mary, sister, Bernie and Rita, who have all gone to eternal life.
Commenting on the pandemic, he offered his sympathy to relatives of those who have died and those who suffered from Covid-19, particularly in the Ferns diocese.
He acknowledged the heroism of all the healthcare and frontline workers who continue to be involved in responding to the pandemic.
He thanked everyone who have been part of the organisation and celebration of this day, those who assisted him since his arrival in Ferns, everyone who prayed for him and sent message of support.
Acknowledging his roots in the Diocese of Killaloe, he thanked everyone who have been supportive and a friend to him; people, priest colleagues, staff members in the Diocesan Office, candidates for the New Ministries and the many parish officers who continue to work tirelessly to build sustainable Christian Communities in a time of great change.
He also thanked the priests who he worked with in different parishes or areas of work or responsibility.
“The Killaloe Diocese has been blessed that many priests go the extra mile in the building of parish community or are generous with their talents towards the wider community of the diocese,” said Bishop Nash.
He also told a story about when the Diocese of Ferns had no Bishop in 1282; the previous Bishop having died in May.
In October of that year, Richard of Northampton, a priest of Killaloe Diocese was appointed but was not consecrated until the following year.
While he had the backing of the Church at his appointment, somebody forgot to inform the other powerful authority, namely the King of England.
There was a standoff until finally the King gave in and gave authority to the Archbishop of Dublin to do what we have done here today. Richard was bishop for the next 20 years and is buried in the Cathedral in Ferns.
Most Reverend Dermot Farrell, Archbishop of Dublin, was the principal ordaining bishop at the ordination and he was assisted by Most Reverend Denis Brennan, Bishop Emeritus of Ferns and
Most Reverend Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killaloe.
The concelebrants were His Excellency Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio,
Most Reverend Kieran O’Reilly SMA Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Most Reverend Willie Walsh Bishop Emeritus of Killaloe and Most Reverend Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.
Margaret Nash read the First Reading, Jim Willis presented the ring and pastoral staff, while Teresa Nash read the post communion reflection.
Our loss is Ferns gain, says Bishop Fintan Monahan
TWO bishops with strong Clare links were ordained one day apart, it emerged this week.
Bishop Ger Nash was ordained as the 81st Bishop of Ferns in St Aidan’s Cathedral Enniscorthy on Sunday last.
Bishop of Killaloe, Fintan Monahan, has revealed that he started his training for the priesthood with Ger Nash in Maynooth in 1984, and they were both ordained one day apart in 1991.
Clare hurler, Shane O’Donnell, who scored 3-3 to steer Clare to success in the replay of the 2013 All-Ireland final, joined members of Bishop Nash’s family for the celebrations after the ordination.
Bishop Nash was photographed afterwards with his sister, Teresa Willis and her husband, Jim Willis, and another sister, Margaret Nash.
Niamh Willis, who is Shane O’Donnell’s girlfriend was also in attendance, and she is a daughter of Teresa and Jim.
Meanwhile, Bishop Monahan has warmly congratulated Bishop Nash as he begins his ministry in the diocese of Ferns.
Bishop Monahan said the new bishop continues an ancient tradition and link between Killaloe and Ferns as St Senan ministered there in the early days of the Church in Ireland.
“Bishop Ger and I started together in Maynooth in 1984 and were ordained one day apart in 1991. He was always highly regarded by members of the class and was very instrumental in organising several of our class reunions annually.
“He gained great pastoral experience in his ministry in Roscrea, the Imeall Bóirne Pastoral Area, with Clarecare and did outstanding work as diocesan secretary and director of pastoral development in the diocese of Killaloe.
“Ger has great interpersonal skills, genuine interest in people, is a most loyal friend, has great vision for the future of the Church. He is a man of deep faith and a grounded, practical spirituality.”
The Bishop of Killaloe recalled the diocese of benefited greatly as a result of Bishop Nash’s 30 years of ministry in all the areas he served.
“I have been blessed and enriched to have him as a friend for many decades and so fortunate to have his expert guidance and assistance as diocesan secretary for the past five years.
“My loss and that of the diocese is tempered by the realisation and sure belief that he will do an outstanding job as Bishop of Ferns.
“May the Lord continue to bless him in every way. As his motto prays go raibh sé ‘i síth agus muintearas Íosa’ i gconaí (in the peace and companionship of Jesus),” he added.
by Dan Danaher