St. Mary’s Cathedral looked resplendent when it was filled to capacity with hundreds of people from across the Diocese and further afield who gathered for a special concelebrated Mass of Thanksgiving to mark the recent retirement of Bishop Séamus Freeman, S.A.C., who served as Bishop of Ossory for almost nine years.
The solemn occasion coincided with the Feast of Christ the King and the conclusion of the Extra Ordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy which saw Bishop Freeman formally close the Holy Door of Mercy in the Cathedral which he had opened on the First Sunday of Advent last year.
Priests and Religious working in the diocese along with members of the Pallottine Community of which Bishop Freeman served as Rector General in Rome for many years prior to taking up his episcopal ministry as Bishop of Ossory in 2007, concelebrated the Eucharist, the main celebrant and homilist being Mgr Michael Ryan, Administrator of the Diocese of Ossory.
He was joined in the Sanctuary of the Cathedral by Bishop Séamus Freeman, SAC, Very Rev. Dean Seamus McEvoy, Very Rev. Archdeacon Sean O’ Doherty, Rt. Rev. Mgr. Kieron Kennedy, Cathedral Administrator, Rev. Brian Griffin, most recently ordained priest for the Diocese of Ossory, Father Derry Murphy, Provincial of the Pallottine Community, Most Rev. Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Most Rev. William Lee, Bishop Emeritus of Waterford and Lismore, Most Rev. Dermot Clifford, Archbishop Emeritus of Cashel and Emly and Most Rev. Raymond Field, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin.
Also present for the celebration was Bishop of Ferns, Most Rev. Denis Brennan and Most Rev. Alphonsus Cullinan, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore.
The Deacons were Rev. Liam O Donovan, SAC., and Rev. Charles Lafferty, SAC. Deacon Liam is a native of Slieverue Parish and will be ordained in his home parish in June of next year.
Members of Bishop Freemans family and his many friends were present for the Liturgy which was prepared by the Cathedral Parish Team and in which representatives of religious life and various organisations from within the Diocese participated.
Parishioners from St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish, Diocesan Staff, and members of the lay faithful from around the diocese read Prayers of the Faithful, presented the Offertory gifts and delivered the Communion Reflection.
The appropriately selected sacred music which enhanced the Liturgy was provided by St. Mary’s Cathedral Choir and soloist Niamh Sheehy, under the direction of Seán O’Neill, and accompanied by Organist, Joy Bibby.
After the distribution of Communion the Dean of Ossory, Very Rev. Seamus McEvoy spoke of the many qualities of Bishop Séamus and made a special presentation to him on behalf of the priests of the diocese in recognition of his years of dedicated service and to wish him good health and abundant blessings in the years ahead.
In his address to the congregation, Bishop Freeman expressed his deep appreciation to all those who had organised, participated in, and attended the Mass of Thanksgiving in his honour. “I extend my gratitude to the priests of the diocese for their presentation to me this evening. It is very much appreciated and I thank you. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the women and men of Consecrated Life and all the good people of our diocese for their generosity by way of messages of goodwill, gifts and prayers since my retirement”, Bishop Séamus said.
He continued: “I thank my brother bishops, members of my Pallottine Family, priests, religious, family, friends and all you good people of the Diocese of Ossory and beyond, for the courtesy of your presence here with me this evening in our beautiful Cathedral, dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God.”
Bishop Freeman concluded by conveying his special blessings to the congregation and paid tribute to all present.