Pope Francis appoints Father Alan McGuckian SJ as Bishop of Raphoe

09 Jun 2017

His Holiness Pope Francis has today accepted the resignation of Bishop Philip Boyce OCD and has appointed as his successor Father Alan McGuckian SJ as the new Bishop of Raphoe.  This announcement will be made at midday in the Vatican (11.00am Irish time).


  • Bishop-elect McGuckian SJ

A photograph of Bishop-elect Alexander Aloysius (Alan) McGuckian SJ is available for publication purposes from the Catholic Communications Office in Maynooth.  Please see below an overview of the life and ministry of Bishop-elect McGuckian SJ:

Date of Birth: 26 February 1953
Place of Birth: Cloughmills, Co Antrim
1971 – 1972: Queen’s University College, Belfast
(Irish and Philosophy)
21 October 1972 Entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus
1974 – 1977 National University of Ireland, University College Dublin
B.A. (Latin and Spanish)
1977-1979 Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin
B. Phil.
1981 – 1985 Regis College, Toronto, Canada
M. Divinity STL
22 June 1984 Priestly Ordination
15 February 1997 Final Profession


Teacher, Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare
Director of Vocations

1992 – 2003: Director of the Jesuit Communications Centre
2012 – to date: Director of the Living Church Office,
Diocese of Down and Connor
2014 – 2017: Director of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate
Diocese of Down and Connor

Father Alan McGuckian was born in 1953, the youngest of six children of the late Brian and Pauline McGuckian in Cloughmills, Co Antrim.  Two of his brothers, Fathers Bernard and Michael are also Jesuit priests.  His sister Mary Dynan lives in Newry and his brother John B McGuckian lives in Cloughmills.  His other sister, Paula Haughey died in 2013.

Schooling in Cloughmills and in Saint MacNissi’s College, Garron Tower was followed by a year of First Arts in Queen’s University, Belfast, where he studied Irish and Scholastic Philosophy.

A love for the Irish language brought him to Rann na Feirste for the first time in 1968 and he has been a regular visitor to the Donegal Gaeltacht ever since.

In October 1972 he joined the Jesuit novitiate in Clontarf in Dublin.

Father McGuckian has studied languages and has a BA in Latin and Spanish from UCD and an MA in Irish Translation from QUB.  His training for the priesthood involved Philosophy in the Milltown Institute in Dublin and Theology in the Toronto School of Theology (M.Div and STL).

After ordination to the priesthood in 1984, Father McGuckian worked in secondary education for four years in Clongowes Wood College SJ.

After that came 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.

In the 1990s Father McGuckian ran the Jesuit Communication Centre in Dublin.  During this period he was involved in setting up the web sites www.sacredspace.ie and www.catholicireland.net. Along with Mr Tony Bolger he set up Church Resources and Church Services TV.   At the same time his commitment to the Irish language led him to serve for over ten years as editor of both An Timire and Foilseacháin Ábhair Spioradálta.  Later, when already living in Belfast, he translated the autobiography of Saint Ignatius Loyola from the Spanish original into the Irish language under the title Scéal an Oilithrigh (Foilseacháin Ábhair Spioradálta).

In 2011 he collaborated with Philip Orr in writing the drama 1912; one hundred years on, marking the centenary of the fateful year that saw the Home Rule Bill accepted by the House of Commons and the signing of the Ulster Covenant.

In Belfast, Father McGuckian has served as chaplain to many of the Gaelscoileanna in the Diocese of Down and Connor and was, for a few years, Chaplain in the University of Ulster at Jordanstown and Belfast.

For the last six years Father McGuckian has worked closely with the Diocese of Down and Connor in the ‘Living Church’ project.  This began in 2011 with a Listening Process which aimed to hear the hopes and fears of the priests, religious and the lay faithful in all 87 parishes.  This process led to the publication of a document known as the Living Church Report in 2012.  On foot of this report Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, asked Father McGuckian to set up and lead the Living Church Office whose goal has been to make concrete the hopes and aspirations expressed first of all in the Living Church Report and then in the Diocesan Pastoral Plan which was commissioned by Bishop Treanor.

In recent years Father McGuckian and his team have worked closely with clergy and laity in the establishment of Pastoral Communities all across the Diocese of Down and Connor.  In the Pastoral Communities parishes will work to co-operate more closely together pooling energies and resources to support each other into the future.  A key element of this work has been the rolling out of ‘Facilitative and Discerning Leadership’ training which aims to foster a culture of co-responsibility for the mission of the Church between clergy and laity.

  • Bishop Philip Boyce OCD

Bishop Boyce was born in Downings, Co Donegal on 25 January 1940.  Educated at Derryhassen school in Meevagh (Downings) parish and at Castlremartyr College, Co Cork.

He joined the noviciate of the Discalced Carmelites in Loughrea, Co Galway, making his first profession in 1959.  Having completed philosophical studies in Dublin, he studied theology at the Teresianum in Rome, where he was ordained on 17 April 1966.  He received a doctorate in theology (DD) in 1977 with a dissertation the spirituality of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

During his twenty years on the teaching staff of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of the Carmelites in Rome, he taught spirituality and dogmatic theology, and for many years was engaged in the work of formation of students preparing for the priesthood or doing postgraduate studies.

Bishop Boyce was ordained Bishop of Raphoe on 1 October 1995 in the Cathedral of Saints Eunan and Columba.  His Episcopal Motto “In the Service of Mother Church” is of Carmelite origin.  It sums up the mission he sees entrusted to him in the Episcopal ministry: one of service to the people of God in the Diocese of Raphoe and to the whole family of the Church.

In terms of his responsibilities with the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Boyce is a member of the Commission for Worship, Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development; the Council for Clergy; the Council for Doctrine, and the Council for Liturgy.                                                     

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Katie Crosby 00353 (1) 505 3017 and in Letterkenny, Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678