Monaghan as a site for the diocesan college (Clones had been considered) had long term implications. It meant that in due course the bishop’s residence and cathedral would also be in Monaghan. And on the death of Dean Bellew, parish priest of Monaghan, at a great age, in 1851, Bishop MacNally took Monaghan as a mensal parish and came to reside in Latlurcan beside the town. His first care was to extend and complete the Seminary, making it big enough for sixty students. Then he bought eight acres near his residence as a site for the cathedral, engaged McCarthy as architect and laid the foundation stone in June, 1861. It was a great occasion, not just for Clogher diocese, but for the whole country; and a very emotional occasion for MacNally, remembering the course of his long life from its beginnings in Ardaghey and Castleshane not far away and knowing he would not live to see it completed. The walls were thirty feet high, in fact, when he died in 1864 and the money had run out. It took Bishop Donnelly almost thirty years to complete it and pay for it and have it dedicated in August 1892.
As early as 1850 MacNally had plans to bring nuns into the diocese. In 1856 the Sisters of Mercy came to Enniskillen from Sligo, and in 1859 the Sisters of St Louis came to Monaghan from France. In Bishop Donnelly’s period the Christian Brothers came to Enniskillen in 1865, where the Presentation Brothers replaced them after some years, and in 1867 to Monaghan, which they recently vacated. In Bishop Owens’ time the Passionist community was founded in the Graan, near Enniskillen; the Patrician Brothers came to teach in Carrickmacross, and the De La Salle Brothers to Ballyshannon, which they vacated in 1972.
St Joseph’s Orphanage, Bundoran, was established at the turn of this century through the charity of Miss Sarah Crudden, a native of Galloon?Drumully parish who had inherited wealth from her relative, Revd Peter Crudden of Lowell, Mass., U.S.A. There was much controversy at the time as to whether it should be sited in Clones or Bundoran. For some years it has ceased to house orphans and the buildings have been leased to the St Louis Sisters for a secondary school.
In Bishop O’Callaghan’s time (1943?70) a number of religious foundations were made to meet the flow of vocations that had been remarkable since the 1920s. Some of these foundations closed as the flow of vocations dried up ? the Franciscan Sisters in Castleblayney, the Marie Reparatrice convent in Clones, the Holy Ghost Sisters on Beech Hill, Monaghan, the Legionaries of Christ near Bundoran. Some are still with us ? the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Ballybay, the Convent of the Sacred Hearts in Clones, the Montfort Missionaries in Monaghan, the Sacred Hearts Fathers at Tannagh,
who for some time had a juniorate at Clones.
Dr O’Callaghan also set up a diocesan newspaper, the Witness, which survived for some years. And he was patron of Cumann Seanchais Chlochair, which still flourishes. Canon Hugh Finnegan, President of the Seminary in Monaghan, felt strongly the need for a school to train boys for farming. With this in mind he bought ‘Poplar Vale’ while Dean Keown was Vicar Capitular in 1942. Dr O’Callaghan supported the project and St Patrick’s Agricultural College was established. Dr O’ Callaghan also set up St Tiarnach’s Secondary School, Clones and St Mary’s Secondary School, Castleblayney, and added a badly needed block of classrooms to the Seminary. But his most significant achievement in this area was the staffing of St Michael’s College, Enniskillen, with diocesan priests and its development as a diocesan institution to serve Fermanagh and part of Tyrone. In those same years seven Intermediate schools were built in the northern part of the diocese. Presently St Macartan’s Seminary is undergoing expansion to meet educational needs since the closure of the Irish Christian Brothers Secondary School at St Mary’s Hill, Monaghan.