On Sunday 14 July, priests and lay people from across the Diocese of Clogher, together with distinguished representatives of other Christian denominations, gathered in St Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan for a Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the Golden Jubilee of the ordination to priesthood of Bishop Liam MacDaid, Bishop Emeritus of Clogher.
In addition to family and friends of Bishop MacDaid, the attendance also included the Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, Right Reverend John McDowell and the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough, Right Reverend Michael Jackson. Bishop MacDaid presided in the sanctuary. The chief celebrant of the Mass was the Bishop of Clogher, Bishop Larry Duffy and he was joined by Bishop Joseph Duffy, Bishop Emeritus of Clogher, Bishop Leo O’Reilly, Bishop Emeritus of Kilmore (and a classmate of Bishop MacDaid), Bishop Terry Brady, auxiliary bishop of Sydney, Australia, whose people come from Errigal Truagh parish in north Monaghan and who is on holiday in Monaghan presently, together with priests from across the diocese and beyond.
The music for the Mass was led by the St Macartan’s Cathedral choir under the direction of organist Deirdre Macklin and instrumental music was provided by Peter Mckenna, a choir member. The cantor was Grace McCooey and the congregation was conducted by Fr La Flynn, Prior of Lough Derg. Family, friends and representatives of various aspects of diocesan life participated through the different ministries.
The homily was delivered by Bishop Larry Duffy in which he thanked his predecessor for his years of service, adding ’we were blessed by your wisdom, your ability to listen, your sense of humour and your spirit of compassion.’ (see text below). Bishop MacDaid responded at the conclusion of the Mass (see text below also). Before the conclusion, Bishop Duffy thanked all who had planned and participated in the Mass and, once again, wished Bishop MacDaid many years of health and strength.
Bishop Liam MacDaid is a native of Bundoran, Co Donegal and was ordained a priest on 15 June 1969 at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He joined the teaching staff of St Macartan’s College, Monaghan, in 1970 and was President of the college from 1981 until 1989. Later, he ministered in the parishes of Brookeboro-Fivemiletown and Tyholland and was Diocesan Secretary and Diocesan Chancellor from 1993 until 2010. He was Bishop of Clogher from July 2010 until October 2016 when his retirement was accepted by Pope Francis on the grounds of ill-health.
Homily by Bishop Larry Duffy
Readings: Deuteronomy 30:10-14; Colossians 1:15-20; Luke 10:25-37
‘Two weeks ago, we celebrated here the ordination of Fr Kevin Connolly. In our joy, we prayed that he would be a faithful servant of Christ. Today, we gather to give thanks for fifty years of faithful service by Bishop Liam MacDaid.
‘Gratitude is our overwhelming feeling; gratitude for God’s call and for Bishop Liam’s generous response.
‘From his earliest years as a footballer, Bishop Liam was always considered a tight marker, a safe pair of hands, and a real team player. A defender in the full back line with his club, St Joseph’s (Bundoran & Ballyshannon); it’s said that one would need passport clearance to get past him!!
‘A student for the priesthood during the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and ordained in June 1969, he became a priest when renewal and change was in the air in society and, especially, in the Church.
‘Bishop Liam never sought position, but was always given and accepted responsibility as a teacher and college dean, a school principal, then Diocesan Chancellor and, finally, as Bishop of Clogher.
‘Bishop Liam, we gather to say thanks for your years of service. We were blessed by your wisdom, your ability to listen, your sense of humour and your spirit of compassion.
‘A story is told about a man on his way to heaven. He is stopped by the recording angel who enquires: “Show me your wounds”. The man replied: “Wounds, I have no wounds”. And the angel said: “Did you never think that anything was worth fighting for?”
‘Eucharist is at the heart of priesthood. When Eucharist is celebrated, God walks among his people. He invites us to open the door of our heart and welcome him in.
‘But Eucharist is also a challenge; a challenge to live life for others like Jesus Christ did; to be a kind and caring neighbour to all. A challenge to accept that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho passes through our home, our parish, our community. It is a challenge for us, like it was to the Good Samaritan; to see that we are called to have compassion, and to go the extra mile when need calls.
‘Yes, it is in this that the recording angel recognises the wounds of our service.
‘Bishop Liam, as a diocese we were privileged to have you as our bishop. I know that I speak on behalf of the clergy and laity when I say that the news of your retirement came as a great source of sadness to us. But, if your years were short, your influence was great and lasting.
‘I’d like to conclude with part of a reflection that is close to your heart. It comes from words attributed to Saint Oscar Romero (1917-1980) and it invites us to take a step back and to take the long view.
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We may never see the end result, but that is the difference between the master-builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master-builders; ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.
‘Bishop Liam, may the Holy Spirit be the guide of your future, and may that future be a blessed and happy one.’
Concluding Remarks by Bishop Liam MacDaid
‘Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ, I thank you.
‘I thank you for sharing this occasion with me. It gave us all the opportunity to acknowledge that what we have to offer one another are gifts from God, which ripen and reach full bloom only when we relate to each other in a spirit of unselfish love.
‘We also had a welcome opportunity today to express our gratitude to one another for the help and support we received on challenging stretches of the journey of life. Ní neart go cur le chéile.
‘The seasons of our lives complement each other in a dance beyond our making and if we are fortunate bring us to Golden Jubilee land, a point where we hope to feel some sense of serenity, peace and completion. The precise mix of ingredients which now find their way to our plate can be as baffling as they are unexpected. Our God has been described as a God of surprises.
‘Archbishop Romero, now Saint Oscar Romero, has become an inspirational figure of our time. He was a courageous leader to the people of El Salvador. Despite the horrors he experienced at the end of life, to his credit, he upheld a positive stance. He proclaimed
“nothing we do is complete, no set of goals and objectives includes everything. This is what we are about.’
‘He went on:
We plant the seeds that one day will grow… We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. It enables us to do something small, and to try to do it well. It may be incomplete but it is a beginning, a step along the way. We may never see the end results.
‘Was the Archbishop right? All any of us can do is to plant seeds, and then let go, trusting others to care for them so that one day they will flourish. Really, this is a question each one must answer for oneself.
‘I sincerely thank everyone who has been involved in preparing this worthy liturgy. The quality presented speaks volumes for the work involved. It reflects great credit on our diocese. Go raibh maith agaibh.
‘As I celebrate the Golden Jubilee of my priestly ordination, I am conscious of having been greatly blessed in my family and friends, brother priests and bishops, and co-workers in various ministries. I pray that God will generously bless and reward all those with whom I have been privileged to share this challenging journey.
‘May God be with you and I hope you have a most enjoyable get -together that will leave you with more happy memories.
‘Go n-éirí an bóthar libh go léir.’