On Wednesday 29 January 2014, the Diocese of Meath will mark the 30th anniversary of Bishop Michael Smith’s episcopal ordination.
In advance of the anniversary, Mgr Dermot Farrell, Vicar General, said:
“On behalf of the priests, religious and lay women and men of the diocese I congratulate most warmly Bishop Michael who has given 30 years service to the leadership of the Church in Meath. We thank God for the work of Bishop Michael, especially for his courage and vision manifested in his leadership and decision-making. We pray that this jubilee year will be one of particular grace for him and his generous co-workers in the diocese.
Bishop Smith was ordained at the Cathedral of Christ the King on 29 January 1984 by Cardinal Tomas O Faiach, Archbishop Gaetano Alibrandi and Bishop Cahal Daly of Down and Connor (later Cardinal).
A native of Oldcastle, the then Fr Smith was ordained a priest in 1963. He returned to Rome after ordination to complete a doctorate in canon law, during which time he served as a recording secretary at the Second Vatican Council. Subsequently he was appointed as a curate in Clonmellon in 1967 until he succeeded Bishop John McCormack as diocesan secretary and later as secretary of the Irish Episcopal Conference. He has also served in Castletown-Geoghegan and Rochfortbridge, as well as chaplain in St Loman’s Hospital and Sacred Heart Hospital, Mullingar.
On his appointment by Blessed John Paul II as Auxiliary Bishop of Meath at the age of 43 years, he was Ireland’s youngest Bishop. He was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Meath on 13 October 1988 and, following the retirement of Bishop McCormack on 16 May 1990, he succeed as Bishop of Meath. Since then it is estimated that Bishop Smith has presided at over 1,500 confirmation ceremonies and ordained almost 100 priests. He is patron of 193 Catholic primary schools and a number of secondary schools.
Five years ago, on the occasion of his silver jubilee, Bishop Smith thanked all who have assisted him in his ministry:
“I have been sustained by the prayers and support of so many. I have met many deeply devoted lay people – people of great faith and profound prayer – who place me at the top of their list when kneeling in prayer before the Lord. It is humbling but, at the same time, a sustaining experience.
I have been able to draw on the support of priests and religious along with the large number of faithful who are involved directly in the mission of faith.
I am conscious that there continues to be many in all our parishes and communities on the side of the Lord, those who continue to live out their faith even if the ambient in which they live is not as supportive or enhancing as in previous times. Every generation is given guardianship of this legacy.”