Bishop Jones: a man on a mission!

When Bishop Christopher Jones travelled to Rome recently to witness Cardinal Seán Brady receiving his biretta from Pope Benedict XVI, he had a little job to do for Fr. Francis Beirne, he had to persuade the newly-appointed Cardinal to come to Roscommon to launch the illustrated history of the Diocese of Elphin. Thus, it came to pass on December 20 th that the Cardinal’s first visit to Connacht since his appointment was to perform the launch of the illustrated history of the diocese – testament to the persuasive powers of the Tisrara-based parish priest – if such a testament were needed! Bishop Jones thanked Cardinal Brady for agreeing to perform the launch of the illustrated history of the diocese. He said that when he learned that Archbishop Brady as to be made a Cardinal, he re-arranged the dates for a trip to Rome so that he could attend the event. He said that the fact that so many Irish bishops made the journey was proof of the esteem in which Cardinal Brady is held. Before leaving, he was contacted by Fr. Francis Beirne and asked if he would ask the new Cardinal to perform the book launch. ‘I knew him well enough not to say ‘no’,’ said the Bishop.  ‘I was leaving on Wednesday morning. That morning, I got up at 6 am, and came down at 6.30 and who came in but his Eminence, so Fr. Francis’ prayers were being answered. After Mass in fear and trepidation I said ‘would you ever come to Roscommon to launch an illustrated history?’. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he said ‘you see what’s going on, give me a break’. He said ‘give me a few days and if I can, I will’.’ ‘I just want to say that the Irish church is extremely fortunate to have you as its Primate at this time in our history,’ said Bishop Jones, who went on to praise his sincerity and humour.  The contributions made by Fr. Francis Beirne, Willie Gacquin, John Brady, Sr. Gabrielle McManus and John Tiernan were lauded by the bishop and he noted the then Archbishop Brady had performed the original book launch in 2000 in King House in Boyle. Praising the book, the Bishop said, ‘Very few people will read big volumes of print. I must say that I was most sincerely impressed by this fine production. The quality of the images is of the highest standard.’He also paid tribute to publisher Claude Costecalde of Booklink. Encouraging teachers to use the book, he said that many children are not aware that they are part of a diocesan community and he said that he hoped that the new book will give children a greater appreciation of their parish and diocese. ‘I appeal to teachers in primary and secondary schools to use the history to give students an awareness of the diocese and its story throughout the centuries.’ He noted that it documents the churches, monasteries, cemeteries, holy wells and all such reminders of people’s faith. Concluding, he thanked Brother Seamus Crowe for coming all the way from Dublin for the launch and encouraged everyone to buy the book for friends and family, saying it is a beautiful gift.