Vocation is 'never static,' reflects newly appointed Irish bishop
Father Kevin Doran, whom Pope Francis appointed Bishop of Elphin, Ireland, on May 14 has emphasized that one’s personal vocation must be discerned daily, in faithfulness to God who calls us.
“I must confess to being a little surprised to find myself here this morning … I have learnt over the years, however, that vocation is never static,” Bishop-designate Doran said to the faithful of his new diocese May 14, after a short greeting in Irish.
“God is always calling us and, while we can only see a short way ahead, he has a plan for each one of us, which extends beyond time into eternity.”
“Each day brings with it the challenge of discerning what God is asking. In that sense, we are never done learning what it is to be a Christian or to be a disciple.”
He said he has been learning daily, since his ordination, “what it means to be a priest,” and asked that the people of the Elphin diocese will help him “learn to be a bishop.”
Bishop-designate Doran, 60, was born in Dublin, and attended seminary at the city’s Holy Cross Seminary and at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome; he holds a doctorate in philosophy from the Angelicum.
He was ordained a priest of the Dublin archdiocese in 1977, at the age of 24. As a priest of the archdiocese, he has worked in medical and bioethics, and prepared for the introduction of the permanent diaconate, and organized the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, held in 2012. The congress was hailed as a great success, and brought some 150,000 pilgrims to Dublin.
Bishop-designate Doran has also served as spiritual director of the Irish College, a consultor to the Congregation for Catholic Education, and vocations director. Most recently, he has been administrator of Sacred Heart parish in Donnybrook, a district of Dublin.
Bishop Christopher Jones, who retired as Bishop of Elphin upon Bishop-designate Doran’s appointment and who has been the diocese’s head since 1994, commented that “Fr. Kevin comes with great gifts and talents together with experience in many different ministries. I know 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.”
Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh stated that the new bishop’s “advocacy and championing of the right to life of the unborn child, and his work in promoting vocations to the priesthood, are but two of the many talents and gifts which Bishop-elect Kevin has shared during his priestly ministry for the good of the Church and of our society.”
Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam – to which the Elphin diocese is suffragan, or under, – commented that he has worked closely with Bishop-designate Doran, “in particular to promote the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life. He is well known nationally as a brave advocate for the right to life of the unborn child, as well as being an articulate Church spokesperson for the important, complex and ever more relevant moral issues of medical ethics and bioethics.”
Bishop-designate Doran, continuing his address to his new diocese, noted that chanceries can necessarily “look like a cross between a business and a government department,” but that the Church “must never lose sight of the fact that, first and foremost, it is a community of faith.”
This community is built by baptism and the Eucharist, he noted, saying that as bishop his role is “to be the servant of Communion,” adding that this “includes recognising the diverse gifts which the Spirit has given to everyone in the community of the diocese, religious, clergy and members of the lay faithful, and making it possible for those gifts to be developed and placed at the service of all.”
He greeted the priests of Elphin, thanking them for their generosity and reminding them of the profundity of priestly identity.
Bishop-designate Doran added that “I am delighted to come to a diocese where the permanent diaconate is already established and I look forward to the growth of this ministry as part of the service of communion.”
He called the Church to fight loneliness and isolation, noting particularly the elderly, the homeless, and youth.
The bishop-designate then reflected on the relation between Church and state, saying that “as Christians, we must be actively involved in the public space … to place our gospel vision at the service of society.”
He continued, “Our primary reason for being involved in education, healthcare and social services, is to bear witness to the Gospel. In keeping with that Gospel, there are a number of principles that should be at the heart of everything we do. These include a love of preference for the poor, the safeguarding of children, support for marriage and the family and an unambiguous respect for human life from its origins to its natural end.”
“We need never apologise for these.”
Bishop-designate Doran’s consecration has yet to be scheduled. The Elphin diocese, which he will lead, is located in the northwest of the Republic of Ireland. It was founded in the fifth century by St. Asicus, an associate of St. Patrick. Some 97 percent of its population of 72,000 are Catholic, and it is served by 75 priests.
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