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Mass of Thanksgiving

The event, which took place in St. Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan, on Sunday, November 20th 2016 will be etched in the memory of a huge number of people, who attended, as a very spiritual, uplifting, encouraging experience and a day of great thanksgiving and hope, tinged with sadness and emotional feelings. It was the Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the retirement of Bishop Liam MacDaid as Bishop of Clogher, a situation brought about due to his ill-health.

I intended to be there with my camera but at the last minute I decided not to take it. I knew Rory would be there to record the event and that another photographer would intrude on peoples’ attention and immersion in the solemnity of the occasion. As it turned out it was a good decision. I may not have photos to recall the event but it will be difficult for me to forget it as it left a lasting impression on my mind.

The entire ceremony was in keeping with the occasion and everyone involved carried out their tasks with sensitivity and dignity. The lay involvement was appropriate and fitting and the sacred music was inspiring and relevant. The introduction given by chief celebrant, Mgr Joseph McGuinness, Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Clogher, set the scene and focused the minds on what the day was all about. (A script of his introduction can be accessed HERE). Main Concelebrants were Bishop Liam MacDaid, Bishop-Emeritus of Clogher; Bishop Joseph Duffy, Bishop-Emeritus of Clogher; Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Bishop of Kilmore; Bishop John McAreavey, Bishop of Dromore. Bishop MacDaid’s family – his brother Christopher (a former teacher and now Director of Fundraising at Willow Park School, Blackrock, Dublin), together with other members of his family and many friends were present. Also in attendance were a number of civic leaders and public representatives, together with several community leaders. Priests of the Diocese and other priest friends attended.  Deacon for the ceremony was newly ordained Fr Kevin Malcomson CC, Monaghan & Rackwallace (Cathedral Parish; while Masters of Ceremonies function was performed by Fr Paddy McGinn, Adm, and newly ordained Fr Stephen Duffy CC, Monaghan & Rackwallace (Cathedral Parish). St Macartan’s Cathedral Choir with Organist and Director of Music Deirdre Macklin and Conductor, Claudine Marron provided the sacred music. Organisations like the Legion of Mary, Society of St Vincent de Paul, St Joseph’s Young Priests’ Society, Trócaire and Clogher don Óige were all represented and involved in the liturgy and it was uplifting to see members of the latter group so involved. The Homily was delivered by Monsignor Larry Duffy, PP, Carrickmacross (Dean of the Diocesan Chapter of Canons) and this was truly enlightening, edifying and enriching. (A script can be accessed HERE)
At the end of Mass  Monsignor McGuinness, on behalf of the priests and people of the Diocese of Clogher, made a presentation to Bishop MacDaid. He presented Bishop Liam with a limited-edition print of a painting of St Macartan by local artist Nelius Flynn. In addition, a set of Copes (embroidered vestments used in solemn liturgical celebrations) will be presented to St Macartan’s Cathedral in honour of Bishop MacDaid. In response Bishop MacDaid expressed his appreciation to all for their kindness and to all those involved in the preparation and presentation of the day’s ceremony. He spoke of matters dear to him and of the Diocese and paid tribute to his fellow priests. He spoke of his leaving using the following: ‘It is with some reluctance that I go yet I know it is the right decision.  I offer my apologies and ask forgiveness from anyone I have wronged or failed in my ministry.  It is time to prepare for the next phase of the journey.  I leave with a heart full of gratitude for all the blessings I have received from God in so many ways, not least the marvellous people he has given me as family, relatives, friends, colleagues and fellow travellers.  The letters and cards I have received since my retirement are overflowing with kindness and God’s love.  This is an occasion which has been truly blessed by God’s grace’. (Full script is accessed

The event ended with a ‘Ceremony of Light’, where all departed the Cathedral with lighted candle. A special candle was presented to a representative of every Chapel and Oratory in the Diocese and it is expected that this candle will be lighted in each Chapel and Oratory until such time as a new Bishop has been appointed. The image on the candle is of a vacant Bishop’s chair.

All left the Cathedral and headed to the local hotel where refreshments were laid on for all. It was there that Bishop MacDaid made himself available for all to say their thanks to him personally and to wish him health and happiness in his retirement. However it was clear that all were very impressed by the ceremony of Thanksgiving and found it edifying and enriching but also a huge sense of Hope as the huge attendance made a very clear statement – the catholic church is beginning to come to terms with modern life and is more attractive to its followers, some of whom may have lost faith for a time. It must also give priests great encouragement that the flock holds them in esteem and respect.

On a personal level, I wish Bishop Liam a long and peaceful retirement and that his condition remains stable for a long time to come.