A momentous day as new bishop named
On May 24th 1994 Christopher Jones was appointed Bishop of Elphin.
Almost 20 years to the day later, the popular Bishop announced his successor, Fr Kevin Doran, at a special ceremony in the Cathedral on Wednesday.
Many parishioners at the 10.30am morning Mass did not know the announcement was coming.
After Mass, three men walked out to the altar accompanied by applause.
They were outgoing Bishop Jones, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown and the new Bishop Elect, Fr Kevin Doran.
The congregation, which included students from various schools including Summerhill and St John's, as well as numerous clergymen and nuns, gave a rapturous welcome.
Bishop Jones told the congregation that he would be 'forever grateful' for their encouragement and support over the years.
"Even in difficult times, you have been so faithful, so loyal to the church that you love."
He continued that it gave him great pleasure to announce Fr Kevin Doran, from the Archdiocese of Dublin, as the new Bishop of Elphin.
"This is great news for the Diocese and Fr Doran has many gifts and talents," Bishop Jones added.
He said that Fr Doran showed great leadership and guidance through his role as Secretary General of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress back in 2012.
Born in 1953, it was a former Bishop of Elphin, Dominic Conway, who ordained him as a deacon in Rome.
He became a priest in 1977 and has both a Masters and a PhD in Philosophy.
He previously was parish priest in Glendalough, chaplain in St Vincent de Paul Marino and more recently administrator of the large parish of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook.
Bishop Jones said that Fr Doran has worked extensively in a wide range of fields, including teaching, chaplaincy, medical ethics and bioethics.
He was Spiritual Director at the Irish College Rome and taught in the Mater Dei Institute.
"Indeed as Spiritual Director in the Irish College in Rome he would have known seminarians who are now priests in our Diocese."
He said that Fr Doran has helped co-ordinate vocations for the priesthood at both national and European level.
Bishop Jones added: "I know that you will welcome him with great warmth and joy. And that all of us priests, religious and laity will give him huge support as he leads the Diocese of Elphin into the future."
Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown said that it was a 'momentous' day for the Diocese.
"For two decades, Bishop Jones has sheparded the Diocese of Elphin with fidelity, humility and ability. He has been a truly beloved figure in the Diocese.
"There is deep gratitude from the whole Church for the dedicated, selfless service Bishop Jones has shown over the last 20 years."
He said that when Pope Francis named Fr Doran as the new Bishop of Elphin – which covers areas of Sligo, Roscommon, Westmeath and Galway – the energy, enthusiasm and courage in the Catholic faith are ideal qualities for bringing the Diocese forward.
Sporting a beard, the new Bishop Elect then spoke. He said: "I find myself somewhat surprised and a little nervous. I am very happy to find myself here in this Diocese.
"Although many see me as third generation Dublin, I have many links here.
"Bishop Conway ordained me as deacon and I have been here many times, through my work."
He said that while priests are called to serve the people of God, it is usually the people of God who teach them.
"As Bishop, I hope that you will teach me," he told the crowd.
He said that the Church needs to be businesslike in the way it goes about its work and its mission.
"I think it is important that the Bishop is not a lone ranger.
"I am so happy to see so many priests of the Diocese here this morning, I look very forward to working with you."
He added that he looked forward to the growth of the ministry and the ministry of lay people.
The Bishop Elect also warmly welcomed the various representatives from other denominations.
"Your presence is a great witness of the community and mission we share, I look forward to working with you," he added.
He said that many services once provided by the Church, such as education and social services, are now state funded.
He added that it was important for the Church to support and be there as a service to society.
He praised Bishop Jones for his warm welcome and for travelling to Dublin to meet with him.
"I know that you have worked in the Diocese with gentleness and fidelity and I look forward to sharing your wisdom in the years to come."
After the announcement, the Bishop Elect met with people outside.
He spoke jovially with pupils from both national and secondary schools and greeted his new parishioners.
Síle Uí Ghallachoir said: "I think he will be brilliant. It is good to see that he is young and he seems very enthusiastic.
"I think he will be great for the Diocese."
Sylvia McMoreland, who goes to Mass every morning said that she was 'shocked' with the announcement.
"Well it is a shock to come at 10.30am Mass. We weren't expecting this. It is very sad to see Bishop Christy going. We will miss him fiercely, and we will embrace the new Bishop."
Sylvia's husband, Tommy, added: "Bishop Christy deserves all the tributes for his long time here."
It is expected that the 60-year-old Bishop Elect will be consecrated at a ceremony in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in July.