Pope Francis has appointed Father Ger Nash, a priest of the Diocese of Killaloe, as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Ferns. The news of this Episcopal appointment was made public this morning at 11.00am Irish time (12.00pm in the Vatican).
Gerard Nash was born on 27 February 1959 at Glandree in the parish of Tulla, Co Clare. His parents Tommy and Mary are deceased and he has two sisters, Teresa and Margaret. His sister Bernie died in 2008. He went to the local primary school in Drumcharley and then to secondary school in Tulla. After the Leaving Certificate he studied business and then worked in manufacturing industry for a number of years. After choosing to study for the Diocese of Killaloe in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, he was ordained on 15 June 1991 in Drumcharley Church, Tulla by Bishop Michael Harty.
After ordination, he was appointed as chaplain/teacher in Roscrea Vocational School and as priest responsible for Roscrea Youth Centre. In 1996 he was appointed as General Manager of Clarecare, which provides a range of social services to the people of County Clare. From 1996 he was also assistant priest in Corofin. In 2003, he was appointed as resident priest in Corofin and part of the first grouping of parishes in the Diocese of Killaloe. The newly created area was called Imeall Boirne. In 2007 he moved to Crusheen, also within the Imeall Boirne Pastoral Area. Father Nash was appointed Diocesan Secretary in 2010, while continuing to minister in Imeall Boirne. In 2016 he was appointed Director of Pastoral Development for the Diocese of Killaloe.
Speaking after Mass this morning in the Cathedral of Saint Aidan, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, Bishop-elect Nash said, “As we gather here in this beautiful cathedral, it is with a great sense of unworthiness that I accept the gracious invitation of Pope Francis to the ministry of Bishop here in the historic Diocese of Ferns.
“We are living in strange times as we continue to cope with COVID-19. I would like to begin by offering my sympathies to the relatives of those who have died recently, including those who suffered with the COVID-19 coronavirus and in particular, the families of Ferns diocese who have lost loved ones. Leaba i measc na naomh doibh siud ata imithe uainn. Also, I would like to acknowledge the heroism of all the healthcare and frontline workers who continue to be involved in responding to the pandemic.
“I am privileged to be chosen by Pope Francis to lead this historic Diocese and I feel very humbled. I would like to thank His Excellency, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, for his presence here this morning, leading us in the celebration of the Eucharist, as well as his kind support and detailed preparations for this announcement. My links to Ferns Diocese is principally through the Ferns students who were classmates in Maynooth. Father John Carroll, Diocesan Secretary, has been a source of both welcome and help over the past week and whose deep knowledge of the Diocese I know I will draw on frequently during the coming years. I also mention today with great affection, the late Fintan Morris who was a great friend in Maynooth and afterwards and who would no doubt have a raised eyebrow at me standing here. Mentioning those classmates who have died, I remember my great friend John Cummins who died so tragically a few years ago and John Byrne, Joe McKeever and Paddy Mullaney all of whom are now with the Lord.”
The Bishop-elect went on to pay tribute to Bishop Denis Brennan, whose retirement was accepted today by Pope Francis. He said, “I would like to thank Bishop Denis Brennan for the welcome extended to me from the moment he heard of my appointment. Thank you Bishop Denis – and I also want to offer thanks on your behalf for his leadership and care of the Diocese over the past 15 years. I wish you good health and time to enjoy your retirement. Thank you for your welcome as well as your offer of practical support and your prayers. Thanks also to John Carroll and Frs Odhrán Furlong and Jim Doyle here in the Cathedral Parish for their coordination of the preparations for today. Thanks also to the Vicars of the Diocese, Joe McGrath, Denis Browne, Aodhan Marken and Brian Broaders and also to Trish Murphy in the Diocesan Office.”
Bishop-elect concluded by saying, “My hope and prayer is that we can work together here in Ferns with the Spirit of God sustaining us to nurture the faith and to ensure that our Church is a place of welcome and hospitality for all. In accord with Pope Francis’ model in Let us Dream, I would wish to lead this Diocese in Seeing, Reflecting and Acting so that we become a refuge of healing and encouragement with space for all who are searching for meaning, especially, as we emerge tentatively from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. I look forward, with the help of God, to walking with the people and parish communities throughout the diocese of Ferns as we respond to that call to synodality.
“There is a scripture quotation which always gives me hope in times of challenge and uncertainty. It is from the prophet Jeremiah when he hears the Lord saying “My plans for you are peace and not disaster. I have reserved for you a future full of hope.” I pray that here in Ferns we will turn our faces towards the future set aside for us by God and that we will journey forward together in faith.”
You can read more about today’s appointment on www.catholicbishops.ie.