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Your Excellency, Archbishop Brown, Bishop Clifford, Mgr Martin,
My brother priests, religious, people of the diocese,
I welcome you all here to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh and I thank you most sincerely for coming.
Last week the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Brown went to Limerick to announce the appointment of a new bishop, Father Brendan Leahy. On that occasion he said that he would, in the near future, be announcing the appointment, by Pope Benedict XVI of more bishops.
Archbishop Brown is a man of his word. It is my pleasure to welcome him again most warmly to Armagh and to inform you that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Mgr Eamon Martin, Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Derry, as Coadjutor Archbishop of Armagh.
My first reaction is one of great joy and great gratitude. I thank God for the gift of a new Coadjutor Bishop for the Diocese of Armagh. Eighteen years ago I was appointed, by Pope John Paul II, as Coadjutor Bishop to the late Cardinal Daly. In 2010, I asked the present Pope, Pope Benedict XVI to appoint a Coadjutor to assist me. Today my request has been granted and I am so very thankful to the Holy Father for acceding to my request.
I am delighted that the man chosen is Mgr Eamon Martin – Diocesan Administrator of the diocese of Derry. I congratulate you most heartily Mgr Eamon and I welcome you to the City and diocese of Patrick.
I have known Mgr Eamon for quite a number of years. When I knew him first he was Principal of St Columb’s College, Derry, one of the leading post-primary schools in this country, where, I am reliably informed, he did an excellent job. Later, he became Secretary of the Irish Episcopal Conference where he did outstanding work.
As President of the Episcopal Conference, it was my good fortune to work closely with him and appreciate his many good qualities. As Vicar General and more recently as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Derry, Mgr Martin has gained invaluable experience.
Monsignor Martin will receive a great welcome here in Armagh. I can assure him of that. The good and faithful people of Patrick’s City never fail to give a cead milé failte to those who come at the request of the Holy Father. Not alone do they welcome them but they support us with their prayers and in many other different ways. I remember, with great fondness, all those people who tell me constantly that they pray for me every day and I am sure they will do the same for Mgr Martin.
There are many links between Derry and Armagh - the two dioceses are linked by a common border from Newbridge, Co Derry to Termonmaguirc in Co Tyrone. Two of the curates here in Armagh are County Derry men while another, Father James McGrory of the diocese of Derry, works here in the Regional Marriage Tribunal.
But the link goes back a long way – back to the 12th century in fact – when St Malachy – a native son of this diocese and great reformer of the Church – was succeeded by another St Gelasius – a native of Doire Colmcille. I see today’s appointment as a good one for the much needed work of renewal in the Church.
But there is more. Dean Bryan McGurk, a hero of the Penal times was in charge in Derry in the 1680s. Bishop Terence Donnelly – a native of this diocese went to Derry as bishop in January 1720-1727.
This gift to the diocese of Armagh from the Diocese of Derry comes on the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The search for Christian unity is at once a challenge and a grace.
It also comes during the Year of Faith. In his Prayer for the Church in Ireland, which we will recite in a few moments, Pope Benedict asks God to renew, in Ireland, her age-old commitment to the education of our young people.
Today, in choosing Mgr Eamon Martin for the office of bishop, he has chosen a man of great gifts and great generosity who knows how to use those talents in the education of people – young and old. The motto in this diocese is:
As a diocese we aim to be
The Body of Christ, with the help of the Holy Spirit,
So that we can live like Jesus
In our time and place,
Sharing His compassionate love with all.
I am confident Mgr Martin will play his part in promoting that motto. I ask you to pray for him and for all of us bishops that we be faithful to the command of Jesus: ‘Go make disciples’.