Northern Ireland

Antrim's Fr Alan McGuckian is new Bishop of Raphoe

Bishop Alan McGuckian Image copyright Catholic Communications
Image caption Bishop McGuckian is a Jesuit priest from Cloughmills

County Antrim priest Fr Alan McGuckian has been appointed as the new Bishop of Raphoe.

The announcement was made by Pope Francis in the Vatican at 11:00 local time on Friday.

In succeeding Bishop Philip Boyce, Fr McGuckian has become the first ever Jesuit Bishop in Ireland.

Both were present at a special Mass in St Eunan's Cathedral in Letterkenny earlier to mark the Feast of St Columba.

Fr McGuckian, whose voice is known to many as a contributor to BBC Radio Ulster's Thought For The Day, was born in Cloughmills in 1953, the youngest of six children.

Two of his brothers are also Jesuit priests.

'Rich experiences'

Fr Alan McGuckian attended Queen's University in Belfast where he studied Irish and Scholastic Philosophy.

In October 1972, he joined the Jesuit novitiate in Clontarf in Dublin and was ordained into the priesthood in 1984.

In Belfast, Fr McGuckian served as chaplain in the Diocese of Down and Connor and was, for a few years, chaplain in the University of Ulster at Jordanstown and Belfast.

He became director of the 'Living Church' project in 2011 and facilitated a pastoral programme of discernment and renewal within the diocese.

Image copyright Martin Long
Image caption Both were present at a feast of St Columba mass in Donegal

Archbishop Eamon Martin congratulated Fr Alan McGuckian on his appointment.

"Father McGuckian's background in education and communications, as well as his recent immersion in pastoral planning and development with the Diocese of Down and Connor, indicate just some of the rich experiences and gifts that he will bring to his new ministry," he said.

Archbishop Martin also paid tribute to the "wisdom and selflessness" of Bishop Boyce during his time in the role.

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