An historic day for the Diocese of Raphoe saw its new Bishop Alan McGuckian, become the first Jesuit ever to fill the role of bishop anywhere in Ireland.
His episcopal ordination mass was attended by approximately one thousand people at the cathedral of Saints Eunan and Columba.
Speaking to the Donegal Democrat/Donegal People’s Press, Bishop McGuckian says he already feels at home in Donegal and he is looking forward meeting people in the diocese.
“I am just so happy to be in Donegal. I am genuinely and I’m not just spoofing. I feel more at home in Donegal than you could imagine, given that I have only just arrived and I’m going to be at home here.
“I look forward to being here. People ask me: ‘What are the challenges?’ and I don’t know what the challenges will be but we will figure that out together and my job will be to get to know people. To get to know the priests and we will learn in time. I’m not coming in as some big expert. That’s the worst thing you can be, some big expert from elsewhere,” he stated outside St Eunan’s Cathedral.
The day began with a large crowd filling into the cathedral of St Eunan and Columba and the ceremony got underway at 3pm.
The procession was led by priests followed by bishops, Cardinal Sean Brady and then Archbishop Eamon Martin along with Bishop Philip Boyce.
Bishop elect McGuckian arrived flanked by his two brothers Fr Bernard and Fr Michael McGuckian, who also took part in the service.
In his words of welcome and his homily Archbishop Eamon Martin said the title of bishop is “not one of honour, but one of humble service”.
Archbishop Martin, in a reference to the new bishop’s well documented connections with the Donegal Gaeltacht said he would encourage more parishes, not just those in the Gaeltacht, to introduce regular Sunday worship in our native language.
“I know your affection for Donegal and its people has already been nurtured by your many visits to Rann na Feirste.
“As we look forward to the launch later this year of the new Irish translation of the missal - a project in which Bishop Boyce was intimately involved - your familiarity with, and respect for the Irish language will be invaluable. I would be very pleased if more parishes, not just those in the Gaeltacht, could introduce regular Sunday worship in our native language,” he said,
In a reference to the fact Bishop McGuckian is the first ever Jesuit appointed in Ireland, he said his familiarity with the thinking and spirituality of Saint Ignatius will “help you live out, as a bishop, Pope Francis' call to discernment and for accompaniment of the real life situations of your people”.
He said as bishops it is always important for us to learn new ways of presenting our sincerely held perspectives alongside the opinions of those of other faiths and none, and to encourage conversations at a national level on significant issues and values.
After the ordination Bishop McGuckian then stood on the steps of the cathedral to greet all in attendance personally and took questions from the press.