Your Eminence, brother bishops, priests, religious, representatives of the other churches, representatives of the civil authorities and of the parishes of the diocese of Kilmore, my dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

This is an historic day for the Church in Kilmore. It is right therefore that we celebrate this joyful occasion. with solemnity and dignity, with music, song and prayer and thanksgiving. Bishop MacKiernan, after twenty-six years as Bishop of the diocese of Kilmore steps aside and welcomes Bishop Leo O’Reilly, his successor in the see of St Felim, to take over the helm and guide this beloved diocese through the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the birth of Jesus Christ and into the new millennium.

Today Bishop Leo is being solemnly installed in his Cathedral Church surrounded by his family and his friends, by the priests religious and fellow bishops, by representatives of the other churches and of the civil authorities and by representatives of each of the thirty-six parishes.

This is a happy day, not just for the O’Reilly family, but for the O’Reilly clan, traditional chieftains of East Breffini as they continue their record of providing a Bishop to this diocese in each of the last seven centuries. There was Richard in the 14th, John in the 15th, Dermot in the 16th, Primate Hugh in the 17th, Charles in the 18th, Farrell in the 19th, and now Leo in the 20th. Granted they left it late enough this time but it was a similar story two hundred years ago when Dr. Charles O’Reilly was made Bishop in 1798.

This is also a proud day for the parish of Kilsheridany where Bishop Leo was born as it continues its tradition of providing leadership in the Church. Bishop Charles O’Reilly’s mother was from Kill. At the beginning of this century Bishop Edward Maginnis was Bishop of Kilmore, native of Tullyvin, Co Cavan and the parents of William Cardinal O’Connell of Boston were natives of this parish. Earlier this year Father Eugene King, native of Corick, Tullyvin (Kill parish), was elected Vicar General of the Order of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the renowned missionary order in the Church. No wonder that Father Vincent Hannigan, a native of Lappan, next townland to Corgreagh was very happy as he headed back to Nigeria in recent weeks. Father Hannigan is eighty-two years young and is now in his fifty-fifth year as a missionary of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society, Kiltegan. He was noting, with a certain pride and joy, that a neighbour’s son was soon to take over as Bishop of Kilmore and his comment was: “There was always a bit of faith in this part of the country”.

Today we are all here to do two things; to once again show our respect and appreciation, our affection and esteem for Bishop MacKiernan. We thank God for all that he has been over these many years. Today he steps aside from the frontline of leadership but I know that he will continue his ministry of prayer for all who are in need and his great concern for the sick. I would be immensely surprised if he doesn’t find time to drop into the library and the archives to continue his historical research in the records of the life of the Church in Ireland and Kilmore.

Secondly we come today, to this Cathedral of St. Patrick and Felim, to welcome the new Bishop to wish him God’s choicest blessings and to assure him of our help and support. At the beginning of this Mass he was accompanied to the Chair. With the help of God’s Holy Spirit he will preach eloquently from that Chair. He will teach the faith so as to make people holy in the truth and give them spiritual nourishment. And I am sure that he can count on the help of everyone here present, clergy, religious and laymen and women, to help him in that formidable task.

Last Tuesday we celebrated the feast of St. Leo the Great, the patron saint of our new bishop. He was a Pope in Rome in the time of St. Patrick. It was a time of great upheaval as various hordes of Barbarians, like the Huns and the Vandals, swept down on the Holy City and threatened to destroy it. We are told that Pope Leo was a rock-like figure. He worked tirelessly for the people and strengthened their faith and I am sure that Bishop Leo will do likewise and that he will be supported, not only by his great patron, St. Leo the Great, but also by the saints of this diocese:

St Felim of Kilmore
St Mogue/St. Aiden of Templeport
St Dallan of Kildallan
St Cillian of Mullagh
St Laighne of Killinagh
St Laisir of Killesher
St Osnat of Killasnet
St Mochanna of Annagh
St Fincheall of Kilsheridany