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Most Reverend William Lee, D.C.L., D.D.
Bishop Of Waterford & Lismore
It is with real regret and great sadness that we learn of the retirement of Bishop William Lee who has been bishop of our diocese for over 20 years. His decision to step down has been forced on him for health reasons. We are very conscious that Bishop Lee has continued to serve over the past two years while he was experiencing serious difficulties. He has shown exceptional courage during this time and has consistently gone far beyond the call of duty. We are deeply grateful for the quality of his service to the diocese at a time of huge change and challenge and in, what were very demanding circumstances.
During fourteen of these twenty years he served as Secretary of the Irish Episcopal Conference and in that role he contributed significantly to the leadership and care of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Commenting on the news, Cardinal Brady says “and I want to acknowledge his loyal, faithful and outstanding support in his work for the Conference during that time”.
Coming to Waterford from the Archdiocese of Cashel he quickly set about getting to know the 160,000 people in the 45 parishes in the diocese. He achieved this by the visitation of each of the parishes, visiting the schools, celebrating the Eucharist and visiting so many of the sick in their homes. When he came to celebrate Confirmation, he was at his best where his warm personal approach to the children, parish and school community was greatly appreciated.
Bishop Lee was never more visibly a Pastor than when leading the Diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes each year. The different Eucharistic celebrations and especially the Anointing of the Sick were always deeply moving. He is a person who was clearly touched by, and very responsive to, the human sufferings, crises and tragedies that affect people.
The establishment of Pastoral Councils in every parish were a particular concern for Bishop Lee because he felt that it is only when the talents of all the people are harnessed that the Church can be fully effective. With the many diocesan agencies which now operate out of the Pastoral Centre, he has laid strong foundations for the care of the flock.
In response to the needs of child safeguarding Bishop Lee has put in place structures and procedures at diocesan and parish level. His work in this area was marked by a particular empathy with those who were victims of abuse. In the report of the recent audit of the diocese the following comment is made ‘The Review Team strongly commends Bishop Lee for his personal commitment, leadership and absolute desire to keep children safe’.
We have been blessed by Bishop Lee’s dedicated ministry among us and we express our heartfelt thanks for all he brought us. We wish him a long and happy retirement and pray that his health will improve now that the burden of Episcopal office has been lifted from him.