The Kilmore Diocesan Synod, which was held in October 1834 during the episcopacy of Bishop James Browne, was the beginning of a period of great pastoral reform in the Diocese of Kilmore.
Forty years later when Nicholas Conaty was Bishop of Kilmore and as this period of reformation was coming to an end, St Patrick’s College was opened as a seminary on 12 March 1874 replacing St. Augustine’s Seminary (also known as the Kilmore Academy) established by Bishop Browne in 1839. On that historic day, eighty-three students moved into the building as boarders even though construction was not yet completed. Originally, clerical students studied for the priesthood and lay students received secondary education. A total of 39 students of the College were ordained to the priesthood between 1877 and 1886.
The College was designed by the well-known architect, William Hague Junior, while his father, William Senior, was awarded the contract. The cut stone for the building was taken from Ross Quarry near Oldcastle, Co. Meath. The original building, the present day Diocesan Pastoral Centre, has remained virtually unchanged structurally since then.
In the intervening years, St. Patrick’s College became a distinguished centre of education in the diocese and further afield.
In June 2000, the college officially ceased to be a boarding school.
In October 2000, the Kilmore Diocesan Congress took place at St. Patrick’s College, Cavan. This meeting of representatives of all the parishes, clergy and religious called for the establishment of a Pastoral Centre for the diocese. A Pastoral Plan for the Diocese of Kilmore was launched in 2002.
On 23 June 2003, renovation works – costing in the region of €2.5m – began on the original Hague building which now houses the Kilmore Diocesan Pastoral Centre. The Centre began functioning in January 2004 and became fully operational in early 2005. It soon developed into an oasis of Christian spirituality, education and growth in the diocese, hosting days of reflection and formation for Eucharistic ministers, school retreats, retreats for adults, spiritual direction, Accord pre-marriage courses, First Communion and Confirmation preparation programmes, liturgy workshops, priests conferences, and meetings of diocesan commissions, as well as seminars and other events. A number of external organisations have also availed of the facilities available in the Centre.
The Centre was officially opened on Sunday 13 February 2005 in the presence of Kilmore-native and a former teacher at St. Patrick’s College, Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, and Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore. Representatives of all the parishes in the diocese as well as religious, clergy, and other invited guests took part in a service of blessing and thanksgiving to mark this important occasion in the life of the diocese. The well-known journalist and barrister, Senator Ronan Mullen, was the keynote speaker on the occasion. The opening of the Centre represented the implementation of one of the most important recommendations of the 2000 Diocesan Pastoral Plan.