President Michael D Higgins, his wife, Sabina, the Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, and retired Catholic primate, Cardinal Seán Brady, were among those who attended the rededication Mass at St Mel's Cathedral in Longford yesterday.
Also in attendance were representatives of the 41 parishes of the diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois, as well as Church of Ireland Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh Ferran Glenfield, and representatives of the Methodist Church and other Christian communities locally.
Destroyed by fire
Present, too, were many who had been involved in the cathedral’s restoration since it was destroyed by fire on Christmas Day 2009. It reopened on December 20th last year, following a €30 million restoration project.
Chief celebrant was Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois Francis Duffy, assisted by his predecessor, Bishop Colm O'Reilly, Longford native Bishop Richard Higgins, Auxiliary Bishop of the Military Services, USA, and Msgr Amaury Medina Blanco of the papal nunciature in Dublin.
In the homily, Bishop O’Reilly said he hoped “the beauty of this restored Cathedral of Saint Mel, with its many works of art, can bring comfort to anyone who, moved by the spirit, comes looking for God”. These are the words of
in his Apostolic Exhortation,
The Joy of the Gospel
, in which he speaks approvingly of churches with open doors.
Bishop O’Reilly said that “in Longford we are conscious of having now the great privilege of having a much-admired and regularly visited cathedral . . . On Sunday mornings we have bigger congregations than we have been seeing for a considerable time. Our webcam is reaching people far from Longford.”
He added that “thanks to the reach of modern mass communications” a great number were touched by the emotion of the reopening of the historic cathedral at Christmas.