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Archbishop Michael Neary confirms intention to retire

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LONG SERVICE Archbishop Michael Neary.


Áine Ryan


FIFTY years after his ordination as a priest, Archbishop Michael Neary has tendered his resignation to the Pope as is required by Canon Law when reaching the age of 75. Parishioners all over the archdiocese of Tuam heard the news over recent days as he delivered the annual homily for vocations.  
Archbishop of Tuam for the past 26 years, Dr Neary, a Castlebar native has said he hopes to return to live in his home town after his retirement. However, he will continue as archbishop until a successor is appointed. This role also involves his duties as parish priest of both Tuam and Westport, where Fr Charlie McDonnell is the Administrator.   
A distinguished academic, Dr Neary taught Sacred Scripture in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and served as the Professor of New Testament before his appointment. Since his elevation to head of the archdiocese, he has confirmed more than 60,000 young people; ordained 20 priests; consecrated two bishops; and has been co-consecrator of four other bishops. He also serves on committees of the Irish Episcopal Conference and chairs the Theological Committee and the Doctrinal Committee, whilst acting as Trustee of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, among many other important roles.   A statement by the archdiocese defines his huge contribution as ‘generous and selfless service’. “His successor is still unknown, but he will receive a very warm welcome and every assistance when he takes on this important ministry,” the spokesperson said.
It may be some time before the announcement of the next appointee as it is ‘not uncommon for the Holy Father to delay for some time in accepting the resignation of a bishop until a successor is appointed’.
“Once the Holy Father has received a bishop’s letter of resignation, the Congregation for Bishops begins the process of identifying a possible successor. The Congregation does this with the assistance of the relevant Apostolic Nuncio,” the spokesperson explains.
A more pressing matter for the Church as a whole is the fall in vocations in general.
As Archbishop Neary observed in his homily on Sunday: “In the Western world there is a prevailing culture of indifference to Christian faith and this contributes to an inability to understand the value of a vocation to priesthood. 
“In this situation it will be very important to present the possibility of a priestly vocation to young men and invite Christian communities to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to raise up new vocations.
“The duty of fostering vocations falls on the whole Christian community, and yet priests have a particular responsibility for proposing such a vocation to others.”