Media information for the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop-elect Alan McGuckian SJ as Bishop of Raphoe

31 Jul 2017

You, or a representative, are invited to attend the celebration of Mass for the Episcopal Ordination of Monsignor Alexander Aloysius (Alan) McGuckian SJ as Bishop of Raphoe.  Details:

Time and date  3.00pm Mass on the Feast of the Transfiguration, Sunday 6 August 2017
Venue Cathedral of Saints Eunan and Columba, Letterkenny, Co Donegal in the Diocese of Raphoe
In attendance Laity, religious, clergy, family and guests

Media arrangements: accreditation, media centre, broadcasting and photography
As space is limited, journalists wishing to attend should make contact with the Catholic Communications Office in Maynooth by Thursday 3 August, for accreditation.  At 2.00pm on the Ordination day Martin Long of the CCO will be available to brief journalists at the dedicated media centre located in the Loreto Convent secondary school adjacent to the cathedral.  The media centre will be open until after the Mass and will offer internet access and refreshments.  Hard copies of the homily to be preached by Archbishop Eamon Martin, other addresses from the Mass, the ordination booklet (which contains details of the Liturgy, the biography of Bishop-elect McGuckian SJ, and an explanation of his Episcopal Coat of Arms) and related information on the Diocese of Raphoe will be available here.

The Ordination Mass will be live-streamed on the Cathedral’s website on .

The diocese has retained Mr Paul Doherty as the official photographer for the Episcopal Ordination.  Media may contact Mr Doherty by telephone on +353 (0) 87 4190105 and/or by email [email protected] to obtain photographs for publication purposes.

Following the conclusion of the Mass, and at the front door of the cathedral, Bishop McGuckian will greet members of the congregation in person.  Media representatives will have an opportunity for photographs and a brief ‘door-step’ interview at this time. 

Features of the Ordination ceremony, celebrants, preacher and in attendance
The Chief Ordaining Prelate will be Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, who will be assisted by Bishop Philip Boyce OCD, Bishop Emeritus of Raphoe, and Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down & Connor.  Archbishop Terence Prendergast SJ, Archbishop of Ottawa, will read the Gospel.  The Apostolic Mandate from His Holiness Pope Francis will be read by Father Michael McKeever, Chancellor of the Diocese of Raphoe.  Father Eamon Kelly VF, Administrator of the Cathedral, will be the Master of Ceremonies for the Ordination Mass.  Cardinal Séan Brady, Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh will preside in choral dress.

Also concelebrating the Mass will be: Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam; Bishop Michael Smith of Meath; Bishop John Kirby of Clonfert; Bishop Leo O’Reilly of Kilmore; Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore; Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry; Bishop Brendan Kelly of Achonry; Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick; Bishop Raymond Browne of Kerry; Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare & Leighlin; Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin; Bishop Patrick Walsh, Bishop Emeritus of Down & Connor; Bishop Donal Murray, Bishop Emeritus of Limerick; Bishop Anthony Farquhar, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Down & Connor;  Monsignor Michael Ryan, Diocesan Administrator of Ossory; Monsignor Joseph McGuinness, Diocesan Administrator of Clogher; and, Monsignor Piotr Tarnawski, Chargé d’Affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature in Ireland.

Also concelebrating the Ordination Mass will Father Leonard Moloney SJ, Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Ireland; Bishop-elect McGuckian’s two brothers: Father Bernard McGuckian SJ and Father Michael McGuckian SJ; priests of the Diocese of Raphoe and religious clergy located within and without the diocese.

Representatives of other Christian denominations are also expected to be in attendance.

Also in attendance at the Mass will be family and friends of Bishop-elect McGuckian; local and national public representatives from the constituency; representatives of Church groups from the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, and representative of civic society.

Music for the ceremony will be performed by the choir of Saint Eunan’s Cathedral including choir members of the 33 parishes of the diocese under the direction of Father Michael Carney PP.

Notes to Editors

  • His Holiness Pope Francis appointed Father Alan McGuckian SJ as Bishop of Raphoe on 9 June 2017.  The Diocese of Raphoe includes the greater part of Co Donegal and the Patron Saints of the diocese are Saint Eunan and Saint Columba.  According to the Irish Catholic Directory 2017the diocese has a Catholic population of 83,050 and consists of 33 parishes and 71 churches.  There are 56 diocesan priests in active ministry in the diocese and 19 others who are currently working in other dioceses, retired, on study or on sick leave.  Living and working in the diocese, from religious congregations, there are 10 priests, 2 Brothers and 30 Sisters.  The Bishop of Raphoe is patron of 100 primary schools, and there are 20 voluntary secondary schools and State schools in the diocese.
  • Please see below information on the life and ministry of Bishop-elect McGuckian:

Life and Ministry of Bishop-elect McGuckian SJ
A photograph of Bishop-elect McGuckian is available for publication purposes from the Catholic Communications Office in Maynooth.  Please see an overview of his life and ministry below:

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 and 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.


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678