PROFILE: Donegal’s new  Bishop elect Alan McGuckian

Has spent a great deal of time in Donegal gaeltacht

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PROFILE: Donegal’s new  Bishop elect Alan McGuckian

Bishop elect Alan McGuckian

Bishop elect Alan McGuckian was born on February 26th, 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.

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 www.sacredspace.ie and www.catholicireland.net.  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.

 

Was Chaplain in the University of Ulster

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.

 

Established pastoral communities

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.