New Bishop of Clonfert tells young people life is better with Christ than without

New Bishop of Clonfert tells young people life is better with Christ than without
Fr Michael Duignan

The new Bishop of Clonfert has said people of faith must prepare for a much changed world and become navigators of a new and ever deeper evangelisation.

Fr Michael Duignan was named as the new Bishop of Clonfert by Pope Francis and is a 49-year-old native of Bealnamulla, Athlone, Co Roscommon.

Speaking on his appointment to the Diocese of Clonfert Fr Michael Duignan said that people of faith are called to traverse waters today which are very different from those of the past.

"They are ever changing and difficult to negotiate in sometimes old and leaky boats. They 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. With hearts renewed, perhaps our greatest challenge will be to show forth in deed and word the value of knowing Christ and the life-changing potential of the Gospel, especially to those who lie hurt and broken, feeling rejected, on the edges of church and society."

Fr Duignan went on to remind those without faith that he had no doubt life is better not worse with Christ.

"Let us rejoice in the realisation that life is better not worse with Christ. To quote Pope Emeritus Benedict – “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.” (Benedict XVI, April 2005)

"In his recent Apostolic Exhortation Christ is Alive (2019) which is addressed in a special way to young people, Pope Francis echoes these words when he speaks of how the Holy Spirit “takes nothing away from you, but instead helps you to find all that you need, and in the best possible way”.

Bishop-elect Duignan began his seminary formation for the Diocese of Elphin with a Spiritual Year at St Patrick’s Missionary Society in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow.

He graduated from Pontifical Gregorian University with a Baccalaureate in Philosophy in 1990 and a Baccalaureate in Theology in 1993.

As a postgraduate student he completed a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology in 1995.

In 1993, he was ordained a deacon in the Basilica of Santa Prassede, Rome. On the 17 July 1994, he was ordained a priest in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, Athlone by Most Rev Dominic Conway, Bishop of Elphin.

Bishop-elect Duignan returned to Ireland wher he ministered as Curate in the Parish of Ahamlish and Innismurray, Cliffoney, Co Sligo and began teaching Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at St Angela’s College.

In 2005, he was appointed full-time Lecturer in Religious Education and Chaplain at St Angela’s College. In the same year, he was appointed Assistant Diocesan Secretary for the Diocese of Elphin.

Since 2009, he has served as Chairperson of the Board of Management of The College of the Immaculate Conception, Summerhill, Sligo, the largest post-primary school for boys in Connaught.

Bishop-elect Duignan is concelebrating Mass at 11am this morning in Saint Brendan’s Cathedral, Loughrea with the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo; Bishop John Kirby and with priests of the diocese.

Speaking at the mass, Bishop-elect Duignan will say: "I would like to thank His Holiness Pope Francis for placing this trust in me.

"Thank you to also to his representative in Ireland, Archbishop Okolo, for his gentle encouragement, patience and support over the last while."

Archbishop Eamon Martin congratulated Bishop-elect Duignan, while also expressed his gratitude to Bishop John Kirby whose resignation as Bishop of Clonfert was accepted by Pope Francis.

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