Lives Remembered: Monsignor Colm McCaughan had ‘profound humanity'
MONSIGNOR Colm McCaughan was the first director of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) when it was set up almost 30 years ago.
Established to oversee school management as well as be the employer of 7,500 teachers, he was hugely influential in efforts to raise standards and achieve funding parity for the sector under direct rule ministers.
Colm McCaughan was born in 1927 in Ballycastle to May and Sean McCaughan, growing up in a family of four children.
He went to St Malachy’s College in Belfast and entered the adjoining Down and Connor seminary, being ordained in 1954.
His first appointment was as a curate in Bangor parish. Three years later, he was made the ecclesiastical inspector and diocesan advisor for primary and post-primary schools, a post he held until 1987.
At the same time he was influential in the Catholic Maintained Schools Commissions, forerunners to the CCMS.
He served as CCMS director from 1987 to 1993, when Bishop Patrick Walsh appointed him Diocesan Chancellor.
He retired in 2009, but continued to acted as a senior advisor to the Bishop.
Current CCMS chief executive Jim Clarke said Mgr McCaughan had an "encyclopaedic knowledge of education" and was a great character.
"He had a wonderful embracing personality and a wicked sense of humour which never offended anyone. He was someone who was a model of leadership and someone that I greatly admired."
The Down and Connor diocese said Mgr McCaughan was known for his "strong sense of faith and priestly service, his warm engaging pastoral approach, his ability to mediate and provide wise counsel and his wonderful disarming sense of humour".
"He was a man of profound humanity and was highly respected by bishops, clergy, parishioners and by all across the community and beyond."
Mgr Colm McCaughan died aged 89 on December 21 and was buried in Ballycastle.