The Episcopal Ordination Mass for Bishop-elect Paul Connell will take place in Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, in the Diocese of Ardagh & Clonmacnois, at 3.00pm on Sunday 18 June. The co-consecrators for this Mass will be Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Archbishop Francis Duffy of Tuam, the former bishop of the diocese, and Bishop Tom Deenihan of Meath.
The Diocese of Ardagh & Clonmacnois (www.ardaghdiocese.org) includes nearly all of County Longford, the greater part of County Leitrim and parts of Counties, Offaly, Cavan, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath. This historic and beautiful diocese is situated literally in the heart of Ireland. Within the diocese is located the monastic site of Clonmacnois which was the centre of Church life on the island from the Early Middle Ages. Saint Ciarán founded his monastery here on the banks of the River Shannon in the 6th Century. The monastery flourished and became a great seat of learning, a university of its time, with students attending from all over Europe. Clonmacnois is a popular destination for pilgrims and the ruins on the holy site include a cathedral, two round towers, three high crosses, nine Churches and over 700 early Christian graveslabs. The original high crosses, including the magnificent 10th century Cross of the Scriptures, are on display in a purpose built visitor centre adjacent the monastic enclosure. During his 1979 Apostolic pilgrimage to Ireland, Saint Pope John Paul II included an unscheduled visit to Clonmacnois in his itinerary.
Today, the Catholic population of the Diocese of Ardagh & Cloncmacnois is estimated to be 75,000, served by 51 priests in ministry in the diocese. The Patron Saints of the diocese are Saint Mel and Saint Ciaran. Following the devastating fire which destroyed Saint Mel’s Cathedral on Christmas Eve 2009, the building has been beautifully and sensitively restored. It can now accommodate approximately 1,000 worshipers.
According to traceable records, Bishop-elect Paul Connell will be the 65th Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois since 1152.