BISHOP Willie Walsh said he would not seek to have any significant influence on his successor as Bishop of Killaloe.
At the end December, Bishop Walsh sent a letter to the Pope Benedict and the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, indicating his intention to step down on his 75th birthday on Saturday.
Acknowledging that he may be asked for his opinion during the process in selecting the new bishop, Bishop Walsh said he would be prepared to outline the qualities of any candidate if asked but is not prepared to exert any influence or make any recommendation on who should succeed him at the helm.
On June 21, 1994, Bishop Walsh, who was acting as administrator to the Ennis parish since 1990, was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Killaloe with the right of succession to Bishop Michael Harty. He found himself unexpectedly thrust into the limelight when Bishop Harty died suddenly on August 8 and was given the task of administering the diocese. He was ordained in the Ennis Cathedral on Sunday, October 2, shortly before his 60th birthday.
Every three years priests in the Killaloe Diocese are asked to write a shortlist of three priests who they think should become bishop, which is sent to the Papal Nuncio. Dr Walsh believes another vote is imminent and once this is completed, the Papal Nuncio will conduct an investigation, including a consultation process of priests and clergymen in and outside the diocese, to establish who is best qualified for the job.
Among those being mentioned as possible candidates within the diocese include Fr Tom Hogan, administrator in Ennis since 1988; Nenagh Parish Priest Fr Pat Malone and Fr Ger Nash, who serves as diocesan secretary with a group of parishes including Tubber, Crusheen, Ruan and Corofin.
Some of those outside of the diocese mentioned include Monsignor Eugene Nugent, a native of Scariff and a former curate in the Ennis Cathedral who works in the Diplomatic Corps in the Vatican. Ordained in 1987, his last assignment was in Hong Kong and he is currently awaiting another assignment. Another possible candidate is Albert McDonnell, a native of Kilmaley, who is vice-rector of the Ennis College in Rome.
The Bishop of Killala, John Fleming, could be considered but there is speculation he may be asked to fill the vacancy left in Limerick following the resignation of Bishop Donal Murray in the wake of the Murphy Report.