Ireland’s first ever Jesuit bishop to take over in Raphoe diocese

‘As a Jesuit I bring strengths and weaknesses to this appointment,’ says Fr Alan McGuckian

Fr Alan McGuckian: will be ordained as bishop on August 6th

Fr Alan McGuckian: will be ordained as bishop on August 6th


Ireland’s first ever Jesuit bishop, Fr Alan McGuckian (64), will be ordained Bishop of Raphoe at the Cathedral of Saints Eunan and Columba in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, on August 6th. He succeeds Dr Philip Boyce (77), who has been Bishop of Raphoe since 1995.

Fr McGuckian has a deep interest in the Irish language following a visit to Donegal as a teenager. “Tháinig mé go dtí deoise seo agus an contae seo don chéad uair i 1968 chun freastal ar Choláiste Bhríde i Rann na Feirste. Cuireadh síol ansin ag an am sin. Mhothaigh mé go raibh mé ar mo chompóird i Rann na Feirste agus sa chontae seo trí chéile. Mar sin de tá mé ar mo shuaimhneas. Creidim ó chroí go mbeidh mé sa bhaile sa deoise seo,” he said.

(I came to this diocese and county for the first time in 1968 to attend Coláiste Bhríde in Rann na Feirste. A seed was planted at that time. I felt I was at my most comfortable in Rann na Feirste and in this county. So I am at my most content. I believe in my heart that I will be at home in this diocese).

“As a Jesuit I bring both strengths and weaknesses to this appointment. As is typical of most Jesuits I have never served as a curate in a parish, or as a parish priest,” and so “I will be relying on the priests and people of Raphoe to teach me how to be a truly pastoral bishop,” he said.

Three Jesuits

Fr McGuckian, the youngest of six and one of three brothers who are Jesuit priests, was born in Cloughmills, Co Antrim, in February 1953. In October 1972 he joined the Jesuit novitiate in Clontarf, Dublin.

Following studies at UCD, Queen’s University Belfast, the Milltown Institute in Dublin and the School of Theology in Toronto, he was ordained in 1984. After four years teaching at Clongowes Wood College in Co Kildare and six months in India and the Philippines, he returned to Dublin, where he ran the Jesuit Communications Centre.

Later, in Belfast, he served as chaplain to Gaelscoileanna in Down and Connor diocese and was chaplain at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown and Belfast. For the past six years he has been working with Down and Connor diocese in the Living Church project, which heard from the priests, religious and laity in all of its 87 parishes.