Pope Francis today appointed Bishop Donal McKeown, auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor, as bishop of Derry.
The See of Derry became vacant on 23 November 2011 with the retirement of Bishop Séamus Hegarty.
Donal McKeown was born on 12 April 1950 and brought up in Randalstown, Co Antrim, the first of four children. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Down and Connor on 3 July 1977.
In 2001, Father McKeown was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Down and Connor.
Bishop McKeown’s responsibilities as a member of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference have included: the promotion of Catholic education, youth ministry, university chaplaincies and the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. His interest includes the interface between faith and the empirical sciences and work with Catholic schools in Norway, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland and Germany. He is fluent in Irish, Italian and German.
Bishop McKeown has always had a keen interest in promoting the good news of the gospel in the media. From 1971 – 1973, he was Belfast correspondent for the German Catholic news agency, KNA. While in Rome he did some media work with Vatican Radio and, as part of a team, developed reports in the Irish language for RTE’s An Saol Mór. Bishop McKeown is a regular contributor, both north and south, to radio and television as well as having opinion articles published in newspapers and periodicals.
A life-long sports enthusiast, Bishop McKeown has completed two Belfast marathons. He continues to take part in a relay team for the annual marathon in the city.
The Diocese of Derry consists of most of County Derry, parts of Counties Donegal and Tyrone and a small part of County Antrim. Saint Eugene’s Cathedral is situated in Derry city; the Catholic population of the diocese is around 245,000; there are 51 parishes in the Diocese of Derry; 104 diocesan priests in the diocese, and the patron saints are Saint Eugene (23 August) and Saint Columba (9 June).