A new bishop of Clonfert has been appointed and will take the helm after the retirement of Bishop John Kirby, who served as Bishop for 31 years.
Fr Michael Duignan of Elphin diocese will take over despite concerns from some locals who feared there would not be another appointment because of the small geographical size of the diocese and a shortage of vocations.
The Athlone priest turned 49 yesterday and has served as the director of various youth faith groups.
Fr Duignan studied for the priesthood in Rome before returning to Ireland.
He was recently appointed National Director of the Permanent Diaconate in Ireland by Irish bishops.
Minister Ciaran Cannon said he expressed the concerns of locals who feared there would be nobody to replace Bishop Kirby to the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo.
Minister Cannon also paid tribute to the outgoing bishop, saying: “I wish Bishop Kirby well on his retirement and I look forward to meeting bishop-elect Michael Duignan and working with him on matters of concern to my own constituents.”
Fr Michael’s new diocese consists of 24 parishes in the east of the county.