New bishop-elect called to do ‘Lord’s work’

New bishop-elect called to do ‘Lord’s work’ Bishop Michael Duignan of Clonfert
Madison Duddy and Colm Fitzpatrick

Bishop-elect Michael Duignan has said he was “shocked” when Pope Francis appointed him as the next bishop of Clonfert, but felt “called to stay and do the Lord’s work”.

It was announced on Tuesday that the Elphin priest had been given the role, taking the reins from now-retired Bishop John Kirby who served the diocese for 31 years.

Speaking in St Brendan’s Cathedral, Loughrea on July 16, the Athlone native said that religious and laity must work together “shoulder to shoulder” to spread the Faith in Ireland today.

“As a people of faith, the waters we are called to traverse today are very different from those of the past. They are ever changing and difficult to negotiate in sometimes old and leaky boats,” he said.

“The voyage of the years ahead will require all of us – priests, religious and laity to become, each in our own way, navigators of a new and ever deeper evangelisation. It will require us to work together, shoulder to shoulder, to renew our own hearts in the Faith.”

He added that the Diocese of Clonfert has an “ancient and spiritual tradition” that has always nurtured places of prayer which he hopes to visit in the coming days.

Armagh’s Archbishop Eamon Martin congratulated Fr Michael Duignan on his appointment, and said he will bring rich experience to bear upon his new responsibilities as a diocesan bishop. He also thanked Bishop emeritus John Kirby for his “extraordinarily generous contribution” to the work of the Irish bishops.

In particular, his chairing of Trócaire, his interest in justice and peace, and his concern for Irish emigrants and prisoners abroad have been hallmarks of his faithful service as a diocesan bishop and a member of the Bishops’ Conference.

Bishop-elect Duignan was born on July 15, 1970, and is a native of Bealnamulla, Athlone, Co. Roscommon. He was ordained a priest in the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, Athlone.