Pope Francis appoints Father Paul Connell as Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois
His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Father Paul Connell, a priest of the Diocese of Meath, as the new Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. The news of this Episcopal appointment was made public on April 6th 2023 at 11.00am (12.00pm in the Vatican) by Monsignor Julien Kaboré, Chargé d’Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Ireland, in Saint Mel’s Cathedral, Longford, Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
Life and Ministry of Bishop-elect Paul Connell
Bishop-elect Paul Connell, a native of Mullingar, Co Westmeath, was born on 27 January 1958, the second of four children to Thomas and Philomena Connell. He began his primary education with Mrs Katherine Mullaly before attending Saint Mary’s CBS primary school in Mullingar. In 1970, he commenced his secondary education in Saint Finian’s College, Mullingar, sitting his Leaving Certificate in 1975. From Saint Finian’s he entered Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, where he completed his seminary training in 1982. He was awarded a BA in 1978, followed by a BD in the Pontifical University in 1981. The following year he was recipient of the Gilmartin prize in Ecclesiastical History from the Pontifical University.
Bishop-elect Connell was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, on 20 June 1982. Following ordination, he was briefly attached to Rochfortbridge parish before being appointed to the staff of Saint Finian’s College, completing his Higher Diploma in Education in 1983. He became Vice-President of the College in 1989 and succeeded as President and Principal in 1998. From 1992 to 1994 he completed an evening Masters in Local History in NUI Maynooth, and was awarded a doctorate in history by the university in 2002. Subsequently, Bishop-elect Connell spent a number of years lecturing part-time in Ecclesiastical History at the Milltown Institute of Theology, Dublin, and has published a number of works in the area of local history.
Bishop-elect Connell remained as President and Principal of Saint Finian’s College until 2019. Under his direction the college became a co-educational secondary school in 2003, and its boarding school closed in 2007. In addition, he was President of the national support body for secondary schools, the Secretariat for Secondary Schools, from 2013 to 2018. In January 2019, he resigned his position as Principal of Saint Finian’s, whilst remaining as its President. This following his appointment as Executive Secretary of the Council for Education of the Irish Episcopal Conference, based in Columba Centre of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth. In 2020, he was appointed by Bishop Tom Deenihan, Bishop of Meath, as Chancellor of the Diocese of Meath.
Since his appointment to Saint Finian’s in 1982, Father Paul has held the position of chaplain in Saint Mary’s Hospital, Mullingar (Cluain Lir). For many years during the summer months he has worked in the dioceses of All Saints and Saint Gabriel’s in the Archdiocese of Miami, USA, and more recently in the parish of Saint Gregory, San Diego. In August 2021 he was appointed as Administrator of the Parish of Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath.
A Welcome from our former Bishop and our Diocesan Administrator
Archbishop Francis Duffy of Tuam
I warmly welcome the appointment by Pope Francis today of Father Paul Connell, of the Diocese of Meath, as the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
Father Paul brings to his new position a wealth of experience in Catholic education at both local and national levels. His role, until now, as Chancellor in the Diocese of Meath, together with his work as Principal of a large diocesan secondary school, and his pastoral experience, has already equipped him for the responsibilities involved in leading a diocese.
Father Paul is well respected by the priests and people of his native diocese which he has served for more than forty years. I know, from experience, that he will receive a warm welcome from the parishioners, religious and priests of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
I wish Father Paul every blessing and success in his new ministry.
I extend my good wishes to Father Tom Healy who carried out his responsibilities as Diocesan Administrator with considerable care and diligence for the last fifteen months, and I congratulate him on a job well done.
Father Tom Healy, Diocesan Administrator of Ardagh and Clonmacnois
I warmly welcome the appointment of Father Paul Connell as Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois.
It is fifteen months since we said farewell to Archbishop Francis Duffy on his transfer to the Archdiocese of Tuam – so we are very pleased that Pope Francis has appointed a new shepherd to lead us at this time.
Father Paul hails from the neighbouring Diocese of Meath, and has family roots in our diocese, so I feel that we are welcoming a near neighbour and hope that his transition to Ardagh and Clonmacnois will be a smooth and happy experience for him.
I know that Father Paul has wide experience particularly in the field of education since his ordination in 1983 and so he will bring much wisdom to his new role.
The appointment of Father Paul during Holy Week is a particular joy for the people of the diocese. As we unite in prayer together on these most sacred days, we ask God’s Blessings on Bishop-elect Paul and on his future ministry.
Saint Mel and Saint Ciaran, pray for us.
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