Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ, Bishop of the Diocese of Raphoe, as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Down and Connor.
(The Irish Catholic)
The announcement was made by current Apostolic Administrator of Down and Connor Bishop Donal McKeown during Mass this morning at St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast. Bishop McGuckian will succeed Bishop Noel Treanor as the incumbent, ending a two year vacancy in the Diocese after Bishop Treanor was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to the European Union in November 2022.
Speaking this morning at St Peter’s Cathedral, Bishop McKeown welcomed the news and reminded the congregants of the local ties that bind Bishop McGuckian to the Diocese. “As you will be aware, Pope Francis has nominated Bishop Alan McGuckian who has been Bishop of Raphoe for the last six and a half years,” he said.
“He is no stranger. He is now coming back to his native soil – the diocese where he was born and went to school and the diocesan family where he served as part of the Jesuit community in Belfast for 12 years. While in Belfast, he worked as chaplain to Ulster University and as director of the Living Church Office of this diocese.”
Emphasising in his homily that a bishop’s role not be reduced to administration and formalities, Bishop McKeown said that a bishop’s primary function was to lead his diocese – responding to the pastoral challenges in the local Church he is presiding over and thanked him for undertaking the role.
“Being a bishop is neither a personal honour nor a merely administrative task,” Bishop McKeown said. “It is a divine call to lead the Church that is in this diocese. Bishop Alan, thank you for accepting the call of Pope Francis to lead this local Church. God bless you as you prepare to take over in the course of the next number of weeks.”
Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ was born on February 26, 1953, the youngest of six children of the late Brian and Pauline McGuckian in Cloughmills, Co Antrim.
Having completed primary schooling in Cloughmills and post-primary studies in Saint MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower, Bishop Alan undertook a year of First Arts in Queen’s University, Belfast, where he studied Irish and Scholastic Philosophy. In October 1972 he then joined the Jesuit novitiate in Clontarf in Dublin.
He studied an undergraduate BA in Latin and Spanish from University College Dublin and later graduated with an MA in Irish Translation from QUB, Belfast. His training for the priesthood involved the study of Philosophy in the Milltown Institute in Dublin and Theology in the Toronto School of Theology specialising in the study of Scripture (M.Div and STL).
After his ordination to the priesthood on 22 June 1984, the then Fr McGuckian worked as a teacher in secondary education in Clongowes Wood College SJ, Co. Kildare. This was followed by a six-month period of spiritual renewal in southern India and an experience of serving in a shanty town in Quezon City in the Philippines, before taking his Final Profession as a Jesuit on February 15, 1997.
On June 9, 2017, Pope Francis appointed Bishop McGuckian as Bishop of Raphoe and he was ordained Bishop of Raphoe on August 6, 2017 in Letterkenny.