“I congratulate Fr Declan Kelly on his ordination and I thank his family and local community for supporting his vocation” (Bishop Michael Smith)

Fr Declan Kelly (26) has become the newest priest in the Diocese of Meath.  He was ordained on Sunday 21 September 2014 at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar, which earlier this month celebrated the 75th anniversary of its consecration.

In his homily, Bishop Michael Smith paid tribute to Fr Kelly’s deep faith, which enabled him to answer the Lord’s calling in a positive way.  “Yet his vocation would not have been possible without the loving support of his family, the encouragement of his friends and the prayers of his local community” the Bishop said.  “In the Gospel for today’s Mass, we hear how Jesus continually invites people to serve in the vineyard.  All who say ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call are assured of His care and generosity” the Bishop explained.

The new priest was joined in the ceremony by Rev. Ciaran Clarke (32) from Dysart who will be ordained next Sunday and Rev. Robert McGivney (27) who will become a priest in 2015.

A native of Rochfortbridge, Fr Kelly is a son of Declan and Violet Kelly.  He has one brother (Mark) and two sisters (Niamh and Katie).  During the ceremony, his parents placed the priest’s vestments on their son while his grandmothers Betty and Rose presented the chalice and paten to Bishop Smith for the celebration of the Mass.

Having attended school at St Colmcille’s NS, Gainstown and St Finian’s College, Mullingar Fr Kelly commenced his studies for the priesthood in 2005 at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.  He undertook postgraduate studies at the Institut Catholique de Paris (2008-2009) before completing his theology degree while resident at the Pontifical Irish College, Rome.  He has worked as a deacon in St Mary’s Parish, Navan since January 2014.

The promotion of vocations to the priesthood has been a top priority for Bishop Smith and the Diocese of Meath currently has nine students for the priesthood, which is one of the highest number of vocations in the country.  This includes Tony Sheridan (24) from Summerhill who began his seminary studies in Rome earlier this month.

A gathering of clergy and parishioners will take place at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar on Wednesday 24 September at 7pm to pray for priests and vocations.  The hour of prayer will be led by Bishop Colm O’Reilly, retired Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.  Bishop Smith has invited people from every parish in the Diocese of Meath to come to this gathering and to continue praying for vocations and for their local parish clergy.

Photographs kindly provided by John McCauley.