News & Events
New Bishop of Raphoe

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Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Raphoe Fr Alan McGuckian, SJ with Bishop Philip Boyce, OCD,  Bishop of Raphoe

The Diocese of Raphoe is delighted to announce our new Bishop. Welcome.


  • Please see below an overview of the life and ministry of Bishop-elect McGuckian SJ:


Date of Birth:              26 February 1953

Place of Birth:             Cloughmills, Co Antrim

1971 – 1972:               Queen’s University College, Belfast

                                    (Irish and Philosophy)

21 October 1972         Entered the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus

1974 – 1977                National University of Ireland, University College Dublin

                                    B.A. (Latin and Spanish)

1977-1979                   Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, Dublin

                                    B. Phil.

1981 – 1985                Regis College, Toronto, Canada

                                    M. Divinity STL

22 June 1984               Priestly Ordination

15 February 1997        Final Profession


Teacher, Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare

Director of Vocations

1992 – 2003:               Director of the Jesuit Communications Centre

2012 – to date:            Director of the Living Church Office,

                                    Diocese of Down and Connor

2014 – 2017:               Director of Formation for the Permanent Diaconate

                                    Diocese of Down and Connor


Father Alan McGuckian was born in 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.

A love for the Irish language brought him to Rann na Feirste for the first time in 1968 and he has been a regular visitor to the Donegal Gaeltacht ever since.

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 and  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.

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.

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.

  • Bishop Philip Boyce OCD

Bishop Boyce was born in Downings, Co Donegal on 25 January 1940.  Educated at Derryhassen school in Meevagh (Downings) parish and at Castlremartyr College, Co Cork.

He joined the noviciate of the Discalced Carmelites in Loughrea, Co Galway, making his first profession in 1959.  Having completed philosophical studies in Dublin, he studied theology at the Teresianum in Rome, where he was ordained on 17 April 1966.  He received a doctorate in theology (DD) in 1977 with a dissertation the spirituality of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

During his twenty years on the teaching staff of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of the Carmelites in Rome, he taught spirituality and dogmatic theology, and for many years was engaged in the work of formation of students preparing for the priesthood or doing postgraduate studies.

Bishop Boyce was ordained Bishop of Raphoe on 1 October 1995 in the Cathedral of Saints Eunan and Columba.  His Episcopal Motto “In the Service of Mother Church” is of Carmelite origin.  It sums up the mission he sees entrusted to him in the Episcopal ministry: one of service to the people of God in the Diocese of Raphoe and to the whole family of the Church.

In terms of his responsibilities with the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Boyce is a member of the Commission for Worship, Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development; the Council for Clergy; the Council for Doctrine, and the Council for Liturgy. 


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Katie Crosby 00353 (1) 505 3017 and in Letterkenny, Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678

Lourdes Pilgrimage 2017


The Sun glistened over the snow-capped Pyrenees as the Raphoe Pilgrims made their way as part of the Eucharistic Procession. It was 31 degrees Centigrade but despite the heat the pilgrims were relishing the occasion and enjoying their pilgrimage walk with Jesus. The 329 pilgrims consisting of 40 Assisted Pilgrims, 50 Youth from the Second- level schools of the diocese, 3 Doctors, 18 Nurses, 22 Brancardiers, 23 Handmaidens and 10 priests.

The theme chosen for this year by Bishop Nicolas Brouwet was from the great prayer of Our Lady, The Magnificat; The Almighty has done great things for me. As ever there were those who were in Lourdes to give thanks for favours granted and there were thiose seeking help in so many ways. When one sees a group of pilgrims praying one often wonders what are they praying for? Some intentions are very personal and private, others are fairly obvious and there are those that are shared with others in a moment of conversation. One never knows what is going on in any person’s life and those who might appear fit and strong could be among the most ill on the pilgrimage. There are tears shed by many as they participate in the various Masses and Liturgies but it is true to say that washing in the waters of Lourdes is an experience that few can prepare for. It is an experience that is private to the person and God.

Unusually the pilgrimage began this year at the Grotto with the Dioceses of Wrexham and Ossory (Ireland)   The Bishop of Wrexham Peter Brignall was main celebrant and Mgr. Michael Ryan VG Ossory delivered the homily. We were encouraged to be thankful to God for what we have and we shouild take nothing for granted. Mgr. Ryan said the the Blessed Virgin Mary was extremely humble and continually gave glory and praise to God for everything.

Mr. Francois Labadie made a formal presentation to Mr. Donal Boyle Head of Hospitalitie to mark the fact that the new Accueuil Notre Dame was opened 20 years this year and the Raphoe Diocese has brought the Assisted Pilgrims ( Sick ) to the Accueuil every year since it opened. In fact the Raphoe diocese has been bringing the Assisted Pilgrims to Lourdes since the mid sixties. It is a recognition that is merited and appreciated by all associated with the pilgrimage over the years.

It was a first for Mirela Klanfar from Croatia as she was the first non Irish person to volunteer to help on the pilgrimage. When Mirela told her Parish priest she was going to Lourdes he said ‘ it is the nearest you will ever be to heaven on this earth. A small child on this year’s pilgrimage asked her Mum, ‘ Is this heaven? This child along with the other small children loved Lourdes and many of them did not want to go home. This sentiment was not confined solely to children and young people.

The 50 young people conducted themselves so well in every respect that they were congratulated by many outsiders from othe diocese. One priest said publicly the Youth of Raphoe were a credit to their families, their schools and their diocese.

At the closing Mass Mgr. Daniel Carr VG in his homily reflected on the changing face of Ireland. It was no longer considered acceptable by many to be a practicing Roman Catholic. The Irish media and certain sections of politicians in their endeavours to secularise society were decidedly anti Catholic and he encouraged pilgrims not be put off by this continuous barrage but to stand up for their faith and hold on to what has served the Irish people for centuries.

This tied in very well with the reflections given by Fr. Eddie Gallagher PP Kilcar who looked back on the visit to Ireland St. Pope John Paul II in 1979. Fr. Eddie who is 40 years ordained a priest this year quoted from the homilies of the Pope given at the various litugies. It was a time for looking back on what the Pope said in 1979 but it is also a time for looking forward to the proposed visit to Ireland of Pope Francis next year 2018. It is a very different Ireland but like Our Lady we can be thankful to God that the violence that dominated the Ireland of 1979 is behind us.

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World Meeting of Families Website

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To find out more about this event vist the website here

Diocesan Pilgrimage to Fatima


The Annual Diocesan Pilgrimage to Fatima wil take place from 10th July 2017

The Pilgriamge willbe led by Bishop Philip Boyce, OCD, Bishop of Raphoe

Spiritual Director: Fr James Sweeney,


cost per person from Dublin is €764

For booking and further information contact 074 9737015

or to download the poster click here

Ordination of Fr Damien Nejad

ord dec 2016 nejad

Joyous celebrations in St. Eunan’s Cathedral, Letterkenny, as the Rev Damien Nejad is Ordained to the Priesthood  for the Diocese of Raphoe. Sunday 11th December 2016.


Most Rev Philip Boyce, O.C.D., Bishop of Raphoe ordained to the Priesthood Fr Damien Nejad, a native of Glasgow whose mother comes from Annagry.

The Cathedral of Sts Eunan and Columba was filled with family and friends of the new priest for the nearly two hour ceremony. Also in attendance were over 50 priests from the diocese and further afield who concelebrated the Mass.

Bishop Boyce in his sermon said: “in our Eucharistic celebration here today at St. Eunan’s Cathedral, we have an added reason for joyful hope and expectancy. A young man, Damien Nejad, approaches the steps of the altar and presents himself for Ordination to the Priesthood in the Diocese of Raphoe. He is following Christ’s call to be with the Master for the rest of his life and to serve the people entrusted to his care. Ordination day is always a day of joy and gratitude: joy at the precious gift received, gratitude to the Lord for calling a young man to his exclusive service in the ordained ministry”.

The Bishop spoke about the joy of the Gospel in the life of a Priest: “In your daily ministry, then, let people experience the joy of Christ in your work, and not simply the burdens of your duties. Pope Francis has spoken many times about the joy of the Gospel and the joy of Evangelisation, notably in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World. This is to be your life in the years that lie ahead. You are to live and work with Christ, “the very first and the greatest evangeliser.” Pope Francis reminds you that “life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort…it matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others.” And he quotes Pope Paul VI who back in 1975 wrote that we should recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelising, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the Good News not from evangelisers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervour, who have first received the joy of Christ”. (Evangelii Gaudium10,Evangelii Nuntiandi, 80)”.

On Monday, 12th December, the newly-ordained Priest will celebrate his First Holy Mass in the parish of Annagry in the Church of St Mary Star of the Sea, at 7pm and afterwards give his first blessing to all present.


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