7 JUNE, 2001

Now that I have the microphone I am tempted to offer the prayer of the man who fell into the vat of stout in Guinness’s brewery. He prayed, ‘Lord give me a mouth worthy of this glorious opportunity’. However I had better behave myself and simply say that I am sure that every one of us would wish to be associated with those sentiments of Pope John Paul II and to make his words our own on this happy occasion. We are all delighted to have this opportunity of joining with Bishop MacKiernan as he celebrates the Golden Anniversary of his ordination as a priest.

For every Jubilee whether it is of a wedding or of a Religious Profession or of Priestly Ordination is in reality a celebration of the fidelity of God. Tonight we give thanks to God, to a faithful God, for the help and blessings and grace, which has been given so generously to Bishop MacKiernan over the last fifty years.

This we do gladly and joyfully, for we in turn have benefited in so many different ways from his generous ministry, whether as priest or pastor, teacher or mentor, counsellor or friend.

What makes this evening so special is the fact that the guest of honour is someone whom we know very well, whom we admire very much and who holds a special place in the affection and esteem of so many people.

Bishop Frank, I know that the other Bishops of the country would want me to express to you their warmest congratulations on this joyful occasion. This I gladly do in their name and on my own behalf.

It is now some 49 years since I first met the then Fr MacKiernan. He was in St. Patrick’s College, for the second time, I, for the first – he as teacher, I as student. I was counting up last night the names of those of us who shared that year together. There are not many left but they are: Fr Jim Carroll, Fr Colm Hurley, Fr Joe Dolan, Fr Paddy Sullivan, Fr Ray Brady, Fr Donal Hannon, Fr John Cusack, Fr Thomas Woods, and Fr John Quinn.

I know it is very fashionable now to look back and belittle the days of our schooling and the way we were educated. But I want to say that I feel no such desire. As I grow older I appreciate more and more all that so many people did so generously for us.

Bishop Frank, tonight I want to thank God for the example you set before us then, and ever since, of how to live as a priest. That is, a life spent in the service of others, for the love of God and of neighbour and not for one’s own glory but for the glory of God’s Kingdom. It is all so easily said but not so easily achieved.
However, tonight in his homily, Bishop McKiernan has indicated something of how it was achieved in his case and due so much to the grace of God. I want to thank God for the wisdom of your counsel, the strength of your friendship and kindness, your concern and your hospitality, extended so graciously and so constantly to your priests and to your people, especially in times of sickness and of trouble. I want to thank you for your excellent steady leadership, your commitment and your dedication to the genuine well being of this diocese.

Before we leave this Cathedral of St. Patrick and St. Felim on this holy occasion, I want you to join with me in fervent prayer that God may give to Bishop McKiernan good health and strength for many long years to enable him to continue to convey to people everywhere – but especially here in his beloved Kilmore – the warmth of his friendship and of his encouragement. They are in fact signs of the living kindness of Christ himself.

I thank Bishop Leo for the kind invitation to be present at this celebration and to share in the jubilation of this happy time.

To our illustrious Jubilarian I say – Faoi Brath Mhuire thú í gconaí.