Belfast Telegraph

Tributes paid to Monsignor Colm McCaughan - pioneer of Catholic school system

By David Young

A senior clergyman who was critical to the establishment of the local Catholic education system has died.

The Right Reverend Monsignor Colm McCaughan, Chancellor Emeritus of the Diocese of Down and Connor, was 89.

Mgr McCaughan, who was born in Ballycastle in 1927, was educated at St Malachy's, Queen's University and Maynooth.

He was ordained in 1954 and was first appointed as curate to Bangor Parish.

Three years later he became involved in the church's education work.

From 1968 to 1987, he worked as secretary to the Diocesan Education Committee, eventually becoming the inaugural director of the Council For Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) in 1990 - an important role he held until 1993.

Bishop Patrick Walsh is on record as saying that Mgr McCaughan virtually single-handedly guided the Catholic Maintained Schools Commission for almost 20 years, until it was replaced by the CCMS.

After a three-year tenure as director of the CCMS, Mgr McCaughan was appointed as Chancellor to Bishop Walsh in 1993, with responsibility for the administration of the Bishop's office.

He served with distinction in that role until his retirement in 2009.

Speaking last night to the Belfast Telegraph, Fr Eddie Magee, from the Diocese of Down and Connor, said: "Colm was a very warm, very good humoured person, and a wise counsellor.

"He had a profound humanity and was high regarded by bishops, clergy and parishioners.

"All his life, he retained a fond affection for the Glens and its people."

A notice placed in this newspaper said that the cleric's death was deeply regretted by Bishop Noel Treanor and by the priests of the Diocese of Down and Connor.

Requiem Mass will be held at noon today in the Church of St Patrick and St Brigid in Ballycastle. It will be followed by burial in the cemetery adjoining the church.

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