Bishop Donal McKeown welcomes Bishop Alan McGuckian’s appointment as Bishop of Down and Connor

02 Feb 2024

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for coming here to Saint Peter’s Cathedral here in Belfast for the official announcement of the new Bishop of Down and Connor.  In my role as the outgoing Apostolic Administrator of this Diocese it falls me to fulfil that role.
As you will be aware, Pope Francis has nominated Bishop Alan McGuckian who has been Bishop of Raphoe for the last six and a half years.
He is no stranger.  He is now coming back to his native soil – the diocese where he was born and went to school and the diocesan family where he served as part of the Jesuit community in Belfast for 12 years.  While in Belfast, he worked as chaplain to Ulster University and as director of the Living Church Office of this diocese.
Agus ó bhí  sé óg, bhí an suim aige ins an Ghaeilge.  Cuirfidh pobal na gaeilge fáilte chroiúil roimhe.  He knows the people, the languages and the geography of this diocese, having already played a major role in developing its strategic pastoral direction.  After just a little over 12 months of an interregnum since the departure of Archbishop Noel Treanor to Brussels, the second largest diocese in Ireland now has a resident bishop.  Bishop Alan, welcome back home.
It is a blessing that this announcement is being made on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, a day that is also called Candlemas.  Being a bishop is neither a personal honour nor a merely administrative task.  It is a divine call to lead the church that is in this diocese.  It is good that today’s feast places the announcement in such a liturgical context.  As Simeon recognised with Jesus, this is the beginning of a new chapter for this diocese and rest assured that, for any who bear Jesus Christ, as with Mary, a sword will periodically pierce your own heart.  There is no easy way to take up your cross and follow Jesus.
Bishop Alan, thank you for accepting the call of Pope Francis to lead this local church.  God bless you as you prepare to take over in the course of the next number of weeks.