On Sunday 18 June, the Mass for the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop-elect Paul Connell as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois was celebrated at 3.00pm in Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, in the Diocese of Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. The principal consecrator for the Mass was Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, and he was assisted by co-consecrators Archbishop Francis Duffy, Archbishop of Tuam, and by Bishop Tom Deenihan, Bishop of Meath. The new Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, His Excellency Archbishop Luis Mariano Montemayor, presided at the Ordination Mass.
Addressing those present at the Mass, Bishop Paul Connell said, “As we come towards the end of this ceremony it is my very pleasant task to express my deep appreciation to all of you who are present here and also to those who join us by webcam. A special welcome to those joining us from abroad, and in particular those of you in the United States, especially in All Saints and Saint Gabriel’s in Florida, and Saint Gregory’s in San Diego.”
Recalling the catastrophic fire that almost destroyed the Cathedral in 2009, Bishop Connell continued, “of course as we stand in this beautiful Cathedral, reborn from the ashes we are all immensely grateful to the team of people responsible for its restoration. Which of us though can forget seeing Bishop Colm O’ Reilly on the television news on Christmas Day 2009 assuring the people of the diocese, that despite the daunting prospect that was ahead, their Cathedral would be rebuilt. And indeed it was, as we all witness today. As important as that was, it was just one achievement of many during the ministry of Bishop Colm in this diocese for thirty years. I am acutely aware of how he is held in the highest esteem and affection by the people of the diocese. We are all delighted to see him here today and I hope to benefit from his invaluable insight and advice for many years to come.”
The diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois www.ardaghdiocese.org includes nearly all of County Longford, the greater part of County Leitrim and parts of Counties Cavan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath. The Diocese consists of 41 parishes and 80 churches. The feast day for the patron of the diocese, Saint Mel, is celebrated on 7 February.
Towards the end of his address, Bishop Connell said, “Today we have listened to the words of the gospel: ‘the harvest is rich but the labourers are few’. What are they saying to us? We know the harvest is rich but certainly at this time very difficult. As a Church we live in interesting times, facing many challenges. Our society is in danger of losing the sense of the sacred, above all the truth that we come from God, and that some day we will return to God. Its moral compass is imperiled with an increasing stress on the rights of the individual to the detriment of society as a whole. Faith and practice too are affected when people lose touch with community worship.
“How shall we change our world? We shall not. God will do it or it will not happen. But He will not do it without us. Through men and women whose dynamism for change is not theirs alone but the power and work of God. God has chosen each of us, He is the source of our life in Christ Jesus. In this time of change we, the laity and clergy of this diocese, guided by the Spirit of holiness, openness and truth, have to discern the future direction of our Church. This is our responsibility as disciples of Christ, listening to each other and also those beyond our comfort zone.”
Full details of this Mass can be read here.