Dr Leo O'Reilly.

Bishop Leo O'Reilly retiring as Bishop of Kilmore

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Leo O’Reilly as Bishop of Kilmore on health grounds.  Bishop O’Reilly tendered his resignation  following the advice of his doctor and in advance of his 75th birthday on 10th April 2019.  A bishop is obliged by canon law to submit his resignation to the Pope by the time the bishop reaches 75 years of age.

The Diocese of Kilmore covers most of County Cavan, large sections of County Leitrim, three parishes in County Fermanagh and small portions of Counties Sligo and Meath. 

Archbishop Eamon Martin said: "I join with the people, clergy and religious of the Diocese of Kilmore in offering my warm appreciation and very best wishes to Bishop Leo O’Reilly whose resignation has been accepted by Pope Francis today.  Bishop Leo has remained completely committed to the demands of his episcopal office and he has been unflinching in his service, not only to the Diocese of Kilmore, but also to his many national roles and responsibilities. 

"As President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, I thank Bishop Leo for his insightful contributions to our discussions at the conference table, and also for his warmth and fraternal encouragement to me and to the other bishops.  Bishop Leo’s ministry has been characterised by a compassionate and pastoral instinct together with a real empathy for those who are struggling with life and faith.  He has been unafraid to speak from the heart, with courage and conviction, on a wide range of issues of concern to Church and society: on behalf of unborn and vulnerable human life, on child safeguarding, social inequality and justice and peace.  His presence and wisdom will be greatly missed at the quarterly meetings of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.

Over the past twenty years as bishop he has undertaken a variety of national responsibilities, including service on the Episcopal Commission for Liturgy and the Episcopal Council for Research & Development.  However it is his huge contribution to Catholic education that will be his enduring legacy.  This springs from his vision of a family of Catholic schools across the country which are devoted to the education of the whole person and committed to tolerance, justice and the common good.  Bishop Leo has remained steadfast in his determination to support the right of parents to have their children educated in accordance with their religious convictions.

"As Bishop Leo now retires I trust that he will be supported by the continued prayers and affection of the people, priests and religious of the Diocese of Kilmore.  I offer my prayers for Bishop Leo and wish him every happiness and improved health, away from the demands and worries of administration.  Most of all I look forward to our continued friendship in the years ahead."

Bishop Leo O’Reilly was born in Corgreagh, Kill, Co. Cavan on 10th April 1944. The family later moved to Kilconny, Belturbet. He received his early education in Drumnatrade and Tullyvin National Schools and later in St Patrick’s College, Cavan. He studied for the priesthood in Maynooth College and was ordained in 1969.

He was a member of the staff in St Patrick’s College until 1976 when he went to Rome to do further studies. He served on the staff of the Irish College from 1978 until 1980. Having received a doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in 1981 he was appointed chaplain to Bailieboro Community School.

In 1988 he went to the diocese of Minna in Nigeria and later joined the staff of the National Missionary Seminary of St Paul at Abuja. He returned to Kilmore in 1995 and was appointed parish priest of Castletara (Ballyhaise).

Bishop O’Reilly was ordained Coadjutor Bishop of Kilmore on 2nd February 1998 and installed as Bishop of Kilmore on 15th November, 1998.