Many people were hurt by the church experience, says new Archbishop of Tuam


Many people have been hurt by their experience of the Church and must be listened to, the new Archbishop of Tuam, Francis Duffy, said today after being installed in a ceremony at Assumption Cathedral held in front of a small audience in accordance with the restrictions.

In his homily, the new Archbishop spoke of the decline in vocations, the difficulties experienced by those living in the hour of the pandemic and the challenges the Church will face in the years to come.

However, given that he is now moving to Tuam, he also spoke about the fact that for many people everyday life has been anything but happy and joyous and that many people have been hurt by the experience of the Church. .

“Tragically for some people, everyday life was anything but happy or joyous. Judgment prevailed and set the stage for harshness, not for welcoming. Human dignity was not there for the living, the dead or the bereaved In November, I declared “to move forward, we must listen to all those who have been hurt by their experience of the Church.

“When he came on a pilgrimage to Knock in 2018, Pope Francis also spoke about it, and he said that” this open wound challenges us to be steadfast and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice “. Truth and justice are important, and in pursuit of both, I am ready to listen and learn.

His full homily is as follows:

Two weeks ago we celebrated the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem and today the liturgy jumps from around thirty years to his baptism in the Jordan. Apart from the discovery of Jesus in the Temple, we know nothing else about what happened during these thirty hidden years. One can imagine that his life with Mary and Joseph and his extended family and those he met shaped him a lot. He was a son of God, and also a son of Mary, and brought up in a family and in a community. At the age of thirty, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, in solidarity with us all, and recognized as the Son of God.

On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we remember that Baptism distinguishes us as disciples of Christ. During the rite of baptism, the celebrant calls the person to be baptized by name and says “… the Christian community welcomes you with great joy”. It is a key moment, a moment of welcome and welcome and to be at home in the family of Christ.

Baptism is a sacrament of recognition and welcome, the gateway to Christian life. On the morning of November 10, I thanked Bishop Michael for his very warm welcome and today I renew my thanks for the kindness and hospitality he has shown me on so many occasions. I also said that morning that “I am walking in the footsteps of a true shepherd who led this diocese with great wisdom, sensitivity and fidelity for 27 years as archbishop”. The more I learn about Tuam and the more I know Archbishop Michael’s work, the more I appreciate the breadth and depth of his leadership and leadership. The recent very positive safeguarding review in the Archdiocese of Tuam stated, “The examiners conclude that there is evidence of a strong safeguarding structure and practice in place under the active and compassionate leadership of the Archbishop Neary ”. I congratulate Mgr Michael and I thank him, as well as those of each parish who take care of the safeguard.

Today, I assume my responsibilities as Archbishop of Tuam. I come here knowing very little so I really look forward to getting to know priests, religious and parishioners by traveling and meeting a wide variety of people.


A subject often brought up with me is the decline of vocations. We know that over the decades, in the West of Ireland, many have answered the call to the priesthood and to religious life for service at home and abroad. You know them, they are your family, your friends and your neighbors. The number of people responding to this call has fallen over the past decades. We have heard all the facts and figures. Just look around and see parishes where there were two or three priests, there is now one and more and more there are not anymore, with parishes sharing a priest. It is not because of a decrease in how people think about priests and their work. On the contrary, the value placed on the pastoral work of priests and the liturgies, and the appreciation of their presence, is higher than ever.

Yet the decline continues. Consequently, there are not enough priests to maintain the current parish arrangements. The structures have already been modified to meet current needs and further changes will be necessary building on the good developments that have already taken place and also to accommodate and facilitate the new very positive developments that will arise.

Without a doubt, the future of the Catholic Church depends, as always, on the parishioners, as well as on the decrease in the number of clergy and religious. It depends on your faith, your enthusiasm, and how the Holy Spirit is moving through you. It is part of the baptismal call of every person, not just of the clergy or religious, but of all the baptized.

It is opportune, it is good and it is fascinating that Pope Francis has pushed the Church, all over the world, on the synodal path, and this with great enthusiasm and conviction. There have already been synods and synod-type practices for several years internationally and nationally. Many dioceses continue to walk this path, it is not always easy, it can be difficult and energizing. The Holy Spirit is present and who knows where this combination of listening, walking together, prayer and discernment will lead? It presents a way of being Church and of living our baptism. It is not an instant solution. We must remember that this is a trail and not a track. But, this is the way to go.

Archbishop Michael recently declared that “we are in this diocese, already on a synodal path for many years”. This is true, and it is thanks to Archbishop Michael, his clergy and you parishioners, and all those who so generously and actively engage in the various initiatives; and with more to come. This synodal path has been at the parish level, it is there that it must begin. It is a path, a journey accompanied by a wide variety of people. We will continue, listening, discerning, and planning as we walk together and with the Holy Spirit; I do not see any alternative.


We are well aware that there are other well-marked paths in this diocese. A territory rich in the promotion of the practice of pilgrimage. I am thinking of Knock, in particular, where Pope Francis came as a pilgrim. It is now recognized by the universal Church as an international Eucharistic and Marian sanctuary. I recognize and congratulate the work of Archbishop Michael and of Father Richard Gibbons, parish priest of Knock, to advance this project and bring it to completion until the formal announcement by the Holy Father last March of the feast of Saint Joseph. I am also thinking of the sacred mountain of Croagh Patrick, Máméan and Ballintubber Abbey. I look forward to engaging with you in this precious dimension of the culture and spirit of the region.

Tá fhios againn go rí-mhaith go bhfuil na bealaí oilithrigh arna naomhú ag cosa fir agus mná na hÁrd-deoise seo. Tá traidisiún luachmhar ag an deoise maidir leis na lárionad oilithreachta agus ag cur fáilte roimh oilithrigh ó cheann ceann na tíre seo agus ó na tíortha thar lear.

Cuimhn ar Scrín Cnoc Mhuire ach go háiríthe, it a dtáinig an Pápa Proinsias mar oilithreach trí bliana ó shin. Mar est eol daoibh, tugtar stadás mar Scrín Idirnáisiúnta va Cnoc Mhuire inniu.

Rinne an tÁrdeaspag Mícheál agus an tAthair Richard sár obair ar an iarratas sin. Stiúr, an bheirt acu an togra thábhachtach spioradálta seo go ceann scribe. Rinne an Pápa Prionsias an stádas seo a fhogairt go hoifigiúil anuraidh. Déanaim comhghairdeas leo, agus gabhaim buíochas leo as ucht an fhabhar spioradálta luachmhar seo a bhaint amach go Cnoc Mhuire.

Cuimhním freisin ar Cruach Phádraig, Máméan, agus ar Mhainistir Baile an Tobair. Táim ag súil go mór le aithne níos feared a chuir ar na háitreacha seo agus ar thraidisúin luachmhar na hÁrd-deoise.

Of course, there are the personal paths that each of us walk, sometimes very happy and joyful, sometimes relentless in sadness, anxiety and loss. These personal journeys are where we can meet Jesus and become aware of his presence, often through others. The everyday life, the routine, the happiness and the sadness of it all, the quiet life we ​​all lead, just like Jesus and the thirty years hidden in Nazareth. Pope Francis commented on the hidden years of Jesus as being “… a beautiful message for us: it reveals the greatness of daily life, the importance in the eyes of God of every gesture and moment of life”. Ordinary life, which is at the same time extraordinary, is all of us, it is there that Jesus can be with us with us and we with him with him.

Judgment staged for severity

Tragically, for some people, everyday life was anything but happy or joyous. Judgment prevailed and set the stage for harshness, not friendliness. Human dignity was not there for the living, the dead or the bereaved. In November, I said “to move forward we must listen to all those who have been hurt by their experience of the Church”. When he came on a pilgrimage to Knock in 2018, Pope Francis also spoke about it, and he said that “this open wound challenges us to be steadfast and decisive in the pursuit of truth and justice” . Truth and justice are important, and in pursuit of both, I am ready to listen and learn.

Today we have drastically reduced the number of guests at this installation ceremony due to the current risks of the terrible trip we have all had due to the virus. A lot of people have suffered a lot in the past two years. Sadly, for some there has been death and bereavement, illness, job loss, risk and isolation. The experience of the lockdowns, the persistent threat and the restrictions have had a very negative impact on many people. We have also witnessed good neighbors and those who continue to benefit from essential services and help us keep ourselves safe and keep life as normal as possible.

Even though there are a small number here today and there are many watching the cathedral livestream, I warmly welcome you and thank you for your prayers and for being with us. I would like to thank His Excellency Bishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, representative of the Holy Father in Ireland, for his encouragement lately. I thank my brother bishops and priests and religious and all those who are with us in person or in spirit from the parishes of this diocese and elsewhere. Finally, I remember and thank my parents Frank and Mary Catherine Duffy of Port, extended family and friends. And everyone I worked with in Cavan and Leitrim and more recently in Ardagh and Clonmacnois.

When I was here on November 9, I read a line from the Diocesan Assembly prayer for Ardagh and Clonmacnois. I would like to use another one. He begins with a quote from Jeremy: “I know the plans I have in mind for you. Peace projects… while reserving for you a future full of hope ”. (Jer. 29:11)

Then it continues:

“Jesus, you are God’s word of hope and God’s spirit of promise for our time.

Jesus, you promise us that your Holy Spirit will always guide us until the end of time ”.

May the Holy Spirit guide us, enlighten us and give us great hope. Thank you for praying for me and for my ministry. Amen.


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