Archbishop Eamon Martin welcomes Pope Francis’ appointment of Bishop Alan McGuckian as Bishop of Down and Connor

02 Feb 2024

As President of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and as Archbishop in the ecclesiastical province of Armagh, I warmly welcome today’s appointment, by Pope Francis, of Bishop Alan McGuckian, Bishop of Raphoe, as the new Bishop of Down and Connor.  

I had the great honour of ordaining Bishop Alan in Letterkenny back in August 2017; and today I offer him my ongoing prayerful support as he undertakes the significant new pastoral responsibility of shepherding the People of God in Ireland’s second largest diocese.  Bishop Alan’s appointment is providential at this time of political renewal in Northern Ireland, and he will no doubt bring many gifts to enable peaceful relationships to grow and flourish in his new diocese – amongst the various Churches and faith communities, as well in political and civic life.

Since his appointment as Bishop of Raphoe, Bishop Alan’s strong pastoral instinct has been manifest in his witness to the Gospel and his care for people, religious and clergy.  He will be missed in the Diocese of Raphoe.  Bishop Alan has also contributed greatly to the work of the Bishops’ Conference as a member of its Standing Committee, as the representative to the International Commission for English in the Liturgy, as chair of the Council for Justice and Peace / Northern Ireland Catholic Council for Social Affairs, as a member of the Council for Pastoral Renewal and Adult Faith Development, and as liaison Bishop with Pax Christi Ireland. 

Last October, along with Bishop Brendan Leahy of Limerick, Bishop Alan willingly accepted the responsibility of representing the Bishops’ Conference at the Synod on Synodality in Rome.  As the life of the Church continues to be renewed by the synodal process, Bishop Alan’s guidance and witness will be welcomed.  In addition, Bishop Alan is a member of the Holy Land Coordination Group, an international group of bishops who visit the Holy Land each year with a message of peace and to pray in solidarity with local Christians – an essential message needed now more than ever in our world.  

Bishop Alan brings a deep spirituality, pastoral instinct and a gift for facilitative leadership to his new Episcopal ministry.  As he takes up this new appointment, I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide Bishop Alan’s decisions and help him to embrace the pastoral challenges and opportunities that will lie ahead for him.

I also wish to pay tribute today to Bishop Donal McKeown who has been Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Down and Connor since the departure of Archbishop Noel Treanor last January to take up his duties as Apostolic Nuncio to the European Union in Brussels.  Bishop Donal generously accepted this onerous responsibility in addition to his Episcopal role in the Diocese of Derry, and he has remained attentive to the pastoral and administrative needs of both dioceses for over a year now.