Clare priest Fr Ger Nash has been appointed by Pope Francis as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Ferns.
Fr Nash will succeed Bishop Denis Brennan and as a result will have to vacate his roles in the Killaloe Diocese as Diocesan Secretary which he has held since 2010 and Director of Pastoral Development which he has been since 2016.
Born on 27th February 1959 in Glandree in the parish of Tulla, Ger was one of four children to the late Tommy and Mary. His sister Bernie died in 2008 while his sisters Teresa and Margaret are said to be extremely proud of their brother’s recognition in becoming Diocese of Ferns which covers most of Co Wexford and parts of Wicklow.
He went to the local primary school in Drumcharley and then to secondary school in Tulla. After the Leaving Certificate he studied business and then worked in manufacturing industry for a number of years. After choosing to study for the Diocese of Killaloe in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, he was ordained on 15 June 1991 in Drumcharley Church, Tulla by Bishop Michael Harty.
After ordination, he was appointed as chaplain/teacher in Roscrea Vocational School and as priest responsible for Roscrea Youth Centre. In 1996 he was appointed as General Manager of Clarecare, which provides a range of social services to the people of Co Clare.
From 1996 he was also assistant priest in Corofin. In 2003, he was appointed as resident priest in Corofin and part of the first grouping of parishes in the Diocese of Killaloe, the newly created area was called Imeall Boirne. In 2007 he moved to Crusheen, also within the Imeall Boirne Pastoral Area.
After Friday morning’s announcement, Bishop-elect Nash said he looked forward to walking with the people and parish communities throughout the diocese of Ferns “as we respond to that call to synodality”, in the Cathedral of Saint Aidan, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.
During an address on Friday, Fr Nash detailed that it was a privilege to be chosen by Pope Francis. He spoke of his “vocation story” began with an involvement with Muintearas Íosa, a youth movement begun in the 1970s by an tAth. Michéal Liostún in Limerick, founded on the three principles of Fáilte, Foghlaim agus Guí. Welcome, Learning and Prayer and also the Young Christian Students/Workers – YCS and YCW.
He recounted his pride in recruiting and training 25 candidates as catechists and pastoral workers as he oversaw pastoral development work in the Killaloe Diocese. “My hope and prayer is that we can work together here in Ferns with the Spirit of God sustaining us to nurture the faith and to ensure that our Church is a place of welcome and hospitality for all. In accord with Pope Francis’ model in Let us Dream, I would wish to lead this Diocese in Seeing, Reflecting and Acting so that we become a refuge of healing and encouragement with space for all who are searching for meaning, especially, as we emerge tentatively from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.
“As I leave Killaloe, I also thank the three Bishops with whom I worked closely during the past 12 years. Bishop Willie Walsh lives his motto of Cinealtas Chríost every day of his life and I hope to have the courage he has always shown as priest and bishop. I want to thank Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly SMA, whose time in Killaloe was short but whose vision and planning gave us our current pastoral plan which emphasised collaboration as a central principle. Finally, I thank my classmate, Bishop Fintan Monahan, whose availability and kindness to people and priests sets a benchmark for good ministry. I also thank him for his unwavering support for the projects we undertook in Pastoral Development over the past five years.
“In acknowledging my roots in the Diocese of Killaloe I would like to thank all who have given support and friendship to me; people, priest colleagues, staff members in the Diocesan Office, candidates for the New Ministries and the many parish people in parishes and parish groups who continue to work tirelessly to build sustainable Christian Communities in a time of great change. In particular, I want to thank the priests with whom I’ve worked in different parishes or areas of work or responsibility. Our Diocese has been blessed that many priests go the extra mile in the building of parish community or are generous with their talents towards the wider community of the Diocese. I was also part of a team in the Diocesan Office and I thank everybody who carried responsibilities in Finance, Safeguarding, Administration, Catechetics, Care of Priests and Helen, who made our office, a home from home”.
His predecessor, Bishop Brennan felt the work of Fr Nash in the area of pastoral development would be a big asset to the Diocese of Ferns. “I have only met Father Ger once when he spoke to our priests a couple of years ago, so I look forward to getting to know him better when he is installed as bishop and takes up residence here. I wish to assure him that I will be available to assist him in any way I can as he gets to know the diocese and its people as Bishop in the weeks and months ahead. Bishop-Elect Nash begins his ministry in Ferns at a time which poses many choices and challenges for the Church but at a time which is also blessed by possibility”.
Archbishop Eamon Martin believed it was “a very special day for the Diocese of Ferns”. He stated, “I am sure that Bishop-elect Nash’s gifts and experience in pastoral planning, Catholic education and youth ministry, as well as his insights into diocesan planning and administration, will greatly serve his new ministry and enhance our discussions at the table of the Irish Bishop’s Conference. As President of the Conference I look forward to welcoming Bishop-elect Nash together with my brother bishops, especially at this time of renewal for the Church in Ireland as we prepare to embark on a Synodal journey over the next five years.
One day separated the ordination of Bishop-elect Nash and Bishop of the Killaloe Diocese, Fintan Monahan in 1991. The pair have known each other since they started in Maynooth in September 1984.
Bishop Monahan acknowledged that the Diocese of Ferns would gain at Killaloe’s expense. “I am deeply indebted to him since my arrival here in the diocese of Killaloe five years ago. His tremendous work, support, energy, vision, practical, down-to-earth approach and untiring dedication as both diocesan secretary and director of pastoral planning has been immense. He will bring with him a rich wealth of wisdom, diligence, work ethic, patience, strong faith, pastoral experience and capacity for relating and empathising with so many people. Killaloe’s loss with be a huge gain for the faithful of Ferns”.