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Archbishop Desmond Connell OB ‘43

Archbishop Desmond Connell OB ‘43

A Man of Deep Faith

Tributes have been paid to the former Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Desmond Connell who died on Tuesday 21 February. Dr Connell had been ill for some time and passed away peacefully during the night in his sleep.

He was a past pupil of Belvedere College SJ 1943, and President of the Past Pupil Union 1999-2000. His nephew Mr. John Connell is the longstanding Head of the French Department in Belvedere.

Dr Connell was Archbishop of Dublin from to 1988 until 2004 and Cardinal since 2001. Upon his retirement in 2004, the Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Seán Brady of Armagh, said Cardinal Connell's "clear vision, courageous honesty and outstanding integrity" would be greatly missed.

Preaching to a packed Pro-cathedral in Dublin at the Cardinal’s funeral mass on 24 February, Dr Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, said his predecessor Cardinal Connell became Archbishop at a difficult time in the diocese and had suffered over his mistakes during his time leading the church through a devastating clerical child sex abuse scandal. He went on to say, “It is also true that it was Cardinal Connell who was the one who finally began to realise the extent of the abuse and the extent of the damage done to children and with difficulty began to drag out information which some were still reluctant to share.”.

He also remembered Cardinal Connell's earlier work on unemployment, travellers, and the plight of refugees, which he said was courageous and ahead of his time.

He noted that when asked about his role and his aspirations Cardinal Connell always said it was that of preaching Jesus Christ and of drawing people to the person of Jesus and helping them appreciate how faith in Jesus brings deep fulfilment in our lives. As an “untiring preacher,” Cardinal Connell “wrote over 20 Pastoral Letters, all focussed on what is most central in the life of a Christian and of the Christian community.”

Dr Connell also spent a large part of his life teaching philosophy, joining the department of Metaphysics in University College Dublin in 1953. He was appointed Professor of General Metaphysics in1972 and elected Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology in 1983 and re-elected 3 years later.
He was highly regarded as an academic and was well like by the philosophy students at the college. He had a reputation as a kind and fair lecturer with a genuine concern for the welfare of the young people attending the university. This was particularly evident at exam time when he did his very best to ensure that papers where marked in a consistent, fair and generous manner.

Speaking at the reception of his remains into the Pro-Cathedral on 23 February Bishop Eamonn Walshe, also a Belvedere alumni, said that as well as being a gifted philosopher, historian and lover of classical music, Cardinal Connell was “a man of deep faith, integrity of character, deep love for his people and priests… all too conscious of his weaknesses and inadequacies.”

Throughout his life, he was known for his gentleness and humility and his passing is mourned by his nephews, John (OB1971), Denis (OB1974), Mark (OB1983) and many friends.

May he Rest in Peace.

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