Bishop Alan McGuckian appointed as new Bishop of the Diocese of Down and Connor


Bishop Alan McGuckian, the current Bishop of Raphoe, has been appointed as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Down and Connor by Pope Francis.

Bishop McGuckian was appointed as Bishop of Raphoe in 2017 and has since undertaken a number of responsibilities as a member of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

These include partaking in it’s Standing Committee, acting as the Conference’s representative to the International Commission for English in the Liturgy and as chair of the Council for Justice and Peace.

Bishop McGuckian is a native of Belfast, and his new appointment was announced in St Peter’s Cathedral in the city.

Addressing the congregation, he said while he is delighted to be going home, he will miss Donegal……….


Pics by Peter Thomas

Bishop McGuckian in St Peter’s Cathedral this morning with Bishop Donal McKeown, the Bishop of Derry, who has been serving as Apostolic Administrator in Down and Connor since November 2022.


Bishop McGuickian’s statement:

It is amazing to me that I am here in Belfast this morning in these circumstances. When I left Queens University in 1972 to join the Jesuits, I felt certain that I would never have the opportunity to live here again. Then, God’s providence intervened. My superiors sent me to live in Belfast from 2005 to 2017. I want to acknowledge my predecessor, Archbishop Noel Treanor.

It was he who invited me to head up the Living Church office and work at the heart of the Diocese of Down and Connor. He placed great trust in me and my team of Paula McKeown and Jim Deeds. Had Bishop Noel not chosen me for that work at that time I would almost certainly not be here today. It is good to be here today, and I thank Bishop McKeown who has been a friend since we were students together in Garron Tower. As a brother bishop he has been a good neighbour and great example and encouragement to me. Now, I leapfrog across the Derry Diocese from west to east I know I can continue to rely on his friendship and support.

My roots are entirely in the Diocese of Down and Connor. Father Gerry Park baptized me and Father Vincent McKinley gave me my first Holy Communion in Cloughmills. Bishop Philbin confirmed me in Dunloy. This is where I come from and I am humbled and privileged that, after all my wanderings, the bishop of Rome has chosen to send me home.

I would not be telling the whole truth if I did not say that it will be a terrible wrench for me to leave the priests and people of Raphoe. I have been very privileged to serve among many people deeply committed to the faith; they show it in their daily lives, in the ways they look after one another in community and it was a bittersweet source of pride to me that Donegal uniquely had a pro-life majority in the abortion referendum some years ago. Donegal people took me into their hearts and have inspired me and I will miss them greatly. People will now wonder what will I be like as the Bishop of Down and Connor.

First and foremost, I am a priest. As I reconnect with the priests of this diocese, many of whom I know very well I have a great desire that all of us as priests would ‘Renew our hearts’. Sometimes over recent years I have signed off letters to certain people in Irish; i gCroí Íosa. In the Heart of Jesus. I find that coming back to me, not simply as a pious phrase, but an expression of my desire that both I and my brother priests be close to Christ and his people.

Secondly, I am a Jesuit. And on this feast of the Presentation when we celebrate religious life, I call to mind my own vows and in particular the vow of poverty. There is so much poverty in community – it is my intention to be close to the poor. That may be the poor in heart, lonely, isolated – I want us to be a Church that builds communities. There are other poverties too – the workers seeking a just wage, young people without jobs or opportunities and families trying their best to make ends meet. We need to be a Church that is in solidarity with the poor and seeking justice for the poor.

Thirdly, I want to encourage us as a Church in Down and Connor to make an impact on the world around us. Our love of Christ should radiate from us – make others curious and want to share in our joy. We must share the joy of the Gospel. Let us, priests, deacons, people and Bishop together make the love of Christ know to all. One very important way to do that will be to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the other Christian denominations. Today I send my very best wishes to the other Church leaders in this part of the country.

It is a source of encouragement to all of us that there is movement towards the re-establishment of the institutions of government here in Northern Ireland. Their absence in recent months has been a serious democratic deficit. I encourage everyone to do all in their power to ensure that we have ongoing and stable government here that works hard for the good of everyone and especially the most vulnerable. In addition, we Christians need to pray earnestly for our politicians. It is the grace of God in answer to people’s prayers that has led us out of the horror of past violence to where we are today.

Over the past few years, I used occasionally to drop into Nazareth Lodge Care Village to see Bishop Patrick Walsh and Bishop Tony Farquhar. As he declined physically it was a delight to see how Bishop Walsh remained sharp, warm and witty and very attentive to the needs of the other residents. On this day I have to pay special tribute to my great friend Bishop Tony Farquhar. I went into his Latin class in September of 1967. He knew that we were a good class but most of us were lazy, especially me. To try and stir us up he had to pretend that he was angry some of the time which, with his big soft heart, required a certain amount of histrionics. He was a great motivator and got the best he possibly could out of us. Any success I have had myself over the years in teaching adolescents was modelled mostly on Tony. I am sure the two of them will be praying for me as I do for them.