President Michael D Higgins is expected to visit Longford this Sunday for the Rededication of St Mel’s Cathedral.
President Higgins accepted the invitation to the Rededication on Sunday May 17 at 3.30pm , which will be lead by Bishop Francis Duffy along with Bishop Emeritu s Colm O’Reilly and Bishop Richard O’Higgins, a native of Longford town. Cardinal Sean Brady will also preside over the Mass .
“We’ve come through an exciting five years. Draining, but exciting,” said Fr Tom Healy, as preparations continued for the event.
Indeed, it’s been a whirlwind five years for all involved in the restoration project.
Five years after the fire that destroyed it, St Mel’s Cathedral re-opened to the public in December 2014, and thousands of visitors have passed through its doors since.
“There was great joy at the restoration of the Cathedral,” Fr Healy pointed out, before explaining that the Rededication is a “formal blessing” of the Cathedral, where the altar and the building will be blessed and anointed with the Chrism Oil.
Members of the design team, the artists, architects and contractors involved in the project will return to the Cathedral for the occasion, while representatives from all 41 Parishes in the Diocese will also attend. Of course, space will be limited, so seating is being assigned on a lottery basis, and according to Fr Healy, there has been great interest in the event.
As well as brand new music commissioned for the occasion, entitled ‘The Mass of St Mel’, the event will also see the release of a new book, ‘St Mel’s Cathedral - A Glorious Undertaking’.
The title, which comes from a quote by Bishop William O’Higgins, founder of St Mel’s Cathedral, refers to the fact that the Cathedral was ‘A Glorious Undertaking’ for the Diocese.
The 350-page publication, put together by the Parish Communications Committee, features photographs and articles about the Cathedral’s rich history, highlighting significant days in the past, from the Cathedral’s Consecration to its centenary and beyond.
The fire in 2009 has also been documented, along with the restoration process. Some of those involved in the restoration project have also submitted writings for the publication. The book will be available for purchase following the ceremony.
The excitement continues the following week, when the beautiful organ, designed by Fratelli Ruffatti, will be dedicated. Taking place on Sunday, May 24 at 8pm, all are welcome to the event, which will feature the new music from the Cathedral’s Rededication, performed by the Cathedral Choir and the County Choir. This will be followed by an organ recital by Professor Gerard Gillen.
Thanking the Parish committees, who have worked extremely hard behind the scenes, Fr Healy concluded, “We have a sense of completion in th e air now and it’s very satisfying that the rebuild has gone so well.
“It’s a good feeling.”