Updated: 19/05/18 : 07:04:30
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Christy Jones, retired Bishop of Elphin, dies aged 82

By Eugene McGloin
Political Editor

CHRISTY JONES, the emeritus Bishop of Elphin, died at 9pm last night, Friday.

Aged 82, Bishop Jones died surrounded by his family, said a statement released online.

Bishop Kevin Doran said: “It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of Bishop Christy. 

“He died peacefully at home at 9pm tonight, surrounded by his family. May he rest in peace. Bishop Kevin,” said the brief notice.

Tributes Online

Social media also carried the first tributes late last night and early this Saturday morning to the work of the late Bishop Jones.

Said Joe Coughlan: “RIP Christy. You did some great work. Enjoy the fruits of your labour.”

Something Special

Sligo political activist Marian Moore said: “He was and will always be remembered as a voice for the poor.

“His work with Sligo Social Services is something that marked him out as special. Sleep peacefully Bishop Christy,” she said.

Peter Walpole said: “Was present for my Communion and Confirmation with St. Johns NS. 

“Always a lovely and friendly person and was great with the jokes, even during Mass. Will be missed,” recalled Mr Walpole.

In Sligo, the late Bishop Jones first came to prominence as a member of the teaching staff at Summerhill College from 1965 to 1971.

His teaching career had commenced earlier with one year serve at St Mureadach’s College in Ballina.

Role Honoured

But it was at Summerhill College that he first made his public mark in Sligo.

His role as a teacher, patron was acknowledge with a suite of rooms named in his honour when the new Summerhill school building opened earlier this decade.

Later he served as Director of Sligo Social Service Council from 1973 to 1987.

Traveller Rights

In the role at Sligo Social Service Council he also became synonymous nationally as an advocate for traveller rights.

That was an interest he had first publicly shown in the late 1960s, when attending a conference.

In subsequent decades Bishop Jones was a well known figure fighting for Irish traveller rights.

In that respect he was often to be seen around the Dail, in government departments and in Government Buildings itself.

After his time at Sligo Social Service Council, Bishop Jones served as Administrator at the Cathedral parish.

Named Bishop

He held that particular role,  based at St Mary’s, for seven years — from 1987 to 1994.

In May of 1994 he was named as the next Bishop of Elphin, succeeding Dr Dominic Conway.

Bishop Jones was formally elevated to his new role on August 15th 1984.

On his 75th birthday, in March 2011, Bishop Jones submitted his resignation in line with Canon Law.

However, he was left by Pope Benedict to serve for a further three years.

His successor, Bishop Kevin Doran, was announced as new Bishop of Elphin on May 14th 2014 and was ordained to the role on June 13th.

A dry recitation of the achievements and important dates masks the dynamism which was Bishop Jones’ hallmark in all his public life.

His rise to the top post in the Diocese was remarkable — he was the second youngest of a family of eleven in County Roscommon.

Blazed Trail

Three of his sisters and a brother also entered the religious life, to which he was ordained in June 1962.

His older brother Edward P Jones — but known as “Bobby Jones” after the famed American golfer — joined him in the priesthood and on the teaching staff at Summerhill College.

Jones senior never hid his political likes and dislikes, with a distinct preference for old-style Fine Gael.

But it was his younger brother, Christy, who blazed the trail both locally and nationally, speaking Truth to Power long before the phrase was in vogue.

The late Bishop Jones served as the Elphin Diocese Director of Vocations for a period before his meteoric rise. 

The tale is recalled that before socialist politics beckoned Declan Bree was an activist in the local Legion of Mary.

As a treat the teenage Bree was invited, with other Legion activists, to a weekend conference in Dublin.

Another of those on the trip recalled one of the priests suggested on the long journey from Sligo to Dublin that they might recite five decades of the Rosary

Christy Jones intervened to point out that it was meant to be a weekend treat for the teenagers!

Those who knew ‘Christy Jones’  could always dispense with stiff formality.

He didn’t much like it himself and certainly didn’t ever ‘demand’ it either in any role.  

That said, he was in every sense what the laity colloquially calls ‘A Holy Man.’

Vivid Humanity

Many ‘down on their luck’ and those who toiled alongside ‘Christy’ in various roles recall his vivid humanity.

He was equally a humble man.....but side by side with ‘Christy’ was never, ever anybody’s fool. 

Family Life

In recent years, he was a strong defender of the Catholic Church against modern media.

Repeatedly in various roles, Bishop Jones spoke in support of family life. 

He played a key role in developing written protocols for the Irish Church in the aftermath of child abuse allegations.

Ar dheis dé go raibh a anam dílis

Funeral arrangements;

Bishop Jones will repose at St. Mary’s, Temple Street, Sligo from 3.00pm to 7.00pm on Sunday 20th May and from 12.00noon to 6.00pm and on Monday, 21st May, followed by removal to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo arriving at 8.00pm.

Mass of the Resurrection at 1.30pm on Tuesday, 22nd May.

Burial follows in the Cathedral grounds. Family flowers only please, donations in lieu, if desired, to Sligo Social Services or North West Hospice Fund c/o Seán Feehily at Feehily’s Funeral Home, Cartron Cross, Sligo.