New bishop is published historian
Bishop Paul Connell, a native of Mullingar, was born on January 27, 1958, the second of four children to Thomas and Philomena Connell. He began his primary education with Mrs Katherine Mullaly before attending St Mary’s CBS primary school in Mullingar. In 1970, he commenced his secondary education in St Finian’s College, Mullingar, and sat his Leaving Certificate in 1975.
From St Finian’s he entered St 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 Connell was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar, on June 20, 1982. Following ordination, he was briefly attached to Rochfortbridge parish before being appointed to the staff of St Finian’s College.
He completed his Higher Diploma in Education in 1983. He became vice-president of the college in 1989 and succeeded as president and principal in 1998.
Between 1992 and 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 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 Connell remained as president and principal of St 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 St Finian’s, but remained as president, following his appointment as executive secretary of the Council for Education of the Irish Episcopal Conference, based in Columba Centre of St 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 St Finian’s in 1982, Bishop Connell has held the position of chaplain in St Mary’s Hospital, Mullingar (Cluain Lir), and for many years during the summer months, he has worked in the parishes of All Saints and St Gabriel’s in the Archdiocese of Miami, USA, and more recently in the parish of St Gregory, in the diocese of San Diego. In August 2021 he was appointed administrator of the Parish of Multyfarnham.