The Reverend Canon John Wade McKegney

John Wade McKegney was born on 17 October 1947 in Londonderry, the son of the Revd Herbie and Mrs Mabel McKelvey. Herbie McKegney was Rector of St Augustine’s, “The Wee Church on the Walls”. John always sustained a love for his home city. It shaped and enriched him throughout his life. He inherited from his father a life-long love of scouting with its emphasis on camaraderie and service which was to equip him for pastoral ministry in the years to come. The Scouting motto, “Be Prepared”, was chosen by Baden Powell to convey “a state of readiness in mind and body to do your duty; …” John McKegney’s sense of duty and instinct for social inclusion drove him to reach far and wide across the social divides of our society. His engaging, outgoing personality served him well when he followed his father into the ordained ministry of the Church.

John McKegney studied at Trinity College Dublin, graduating in 1970 and completing his ordination training in 1972. He was made Deacon in 1972 and ordained Priest in 1973, serving as Curate in St Jude’’s, Ballynafeigh and subsequently St Comgall’s, Bangor. In 1980 he became Rector of Drumgath with Drumgooland and Clonduff, moving to Gilnahirk in 1983. In 1990 he moved to St Mark’s, Armagh, serving there for 23 years. He was appointed a Canon of Armagh in 2001.

A simple list can never capture the spirit of a man. John was engaging, great company, forthright yet with a gift for pastoral sensitivity. He had enthusiasms (not least for steam engines and model railways!) and a gift for friendship that transcended social differences. He was consistently a man of “cheerful countenance”. He cherished his links with TCD through the TCD Association Chapter in the North-West, of late he was its President. Always noted for direct and thoughtful contributions, positivity sums up all that John McKegney was.

Upon the diagnosis of his terminal condition John contributed a series of “bulletins”, entitled “John’s Cancer Challenge”, to a Whatsapp group. These final words are his: “My memories are rich and my faith is strong. I know that ‘peace that passes all understanding’. … I don’t know how long I’ve got but, please note, … when the end comes I’ll die – not ‘pass away’! Thanks be to God for the life I’ve had and for all the future holds…”

The Right Reverend Alan Harper, former Archbishop of Armagh.

Canon John McKegney was one of life’s true characters and passionate about Armagh where he lived and served for nearly a quarter of a century. Over fifty years ordained, he was a faithful priest and pastor. As a member of the Chapter of St Patrick’s Cathedral, and a Governor and Guardian of Armagh Robinson Library, he worked enthusiastically to promote the rich tapestry of religious and cultural treasures in the ecclesiastical capital and to forge relationships and connections across the whole community. The thoughts and prayers of those on the Hill of Armagh are with John’s family and loved ones.

The Very Reverend Shane Forster, Dean of Armagh