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Pope Francis has chosen one of the Irish hierarchy’s most enthusiastic and hardworking bishops to lead the cross-border Diocese of Derry.
Sixty-three-year-old Donal McKeown, an auxiliary bishop of the diocese of Down and Connor, was informed by the Papal Nuncio just over a week ago that he had been chosen to replace Bishop Seamus Hegarty, who retired in November 2011.
Bishop McKeown is a popular member of the hierarchy who has worked hard to promote youth ministry, vocations and Catholic education, particularly in Northern Ireland. He will lead a diocese with 245,000 people spread across 51 parishes served by 104 diocesan priests.
A native Irish speaker, he is also fluent in German and Italian. Speaking in St Eugene’s Cathedral in Derry on Tuesday, he described himself as “an individual with some experience and many frailties, but who is happy to become part of a team of the pilgrim people in the diocese of Derry.”