PHOTOS BY JOHN McELROY
A special day finally arrived on Sunday for Fr Paul Dempsey, the former Parish Priest of Newbridge, as he was ordained Bishop of Achonry.
Bishop Paul (49), a former Leinster Leader columnist, becomes the youngest bishop in the country.
Due to social distancing requirements, only a small number of Bishop's family members and Church colleagues were in attendance at St Nathy's Cathedral in Ballaghadereen in Co Roscommon but the ceremony was live-streamed.
Archbishop Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam described the ordination as a “wonderful occasion”.
The attendance included Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Denis Nulty and His Excellency, Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, our Apostolic Nuncio, representing the Pope.
"A cause of great joy"
Archbishop Neary said: “I have no doubt but that our new bishop, in keeping with his name, Paul, will invest his ministry with responsibility, love, service and self-giving.”
In the Homily, Fr Vincent Sherlock acknowledged that the ordination was taking place without many whom Bishop Paul would have wanted at the ceremony.
But he added: “At day’s end, we will have a new bishop in Achonry Diocese, and this is for all of us, a cause of great joy.”
Archbishop Neary also referred to Bishop Paul's two sisters Bernadette and Angela who could not be present due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
He added: “Though not physically with us, we know that they, like the many who wished they could be here with you Paul, are filled with pride, immersed in love and praying you every blessing. We join with them.”
The Archbishop added: “Coming to us from Newbridge, might we take that very name to locate you in the faith journey of our diocese. You are and will be a NEW BRIDGE – a bridge between what has been and what is to come, a bridge between what has been lost and what is to be found, a bridge between Heaven and Earth, between God and His people.
“The bridge makes travel possible, the NEW BRIDGE puts shape, puts its own stamp on the journey and we are thankful for the roads you will travel within our diocese and beyond, to help us find and know the way, the truth and the life.”
He added: “Our wish for you today, is that those words you have spoken through your twenty-three years of priesthood, those healing and meaningful words, will flow into and out of your words and actions as Bishop of Achonry.”
In his address, Bishop Paul told the congregation he had chosen a motto of “Duc in Altum” meaning “Put out into the deep” which was uttered by Jesus in the Bible as he urged his disciples to challenge their fears.
Bishop Paul added: “My vision, my hope, my dream for the Diocese of Achonry, is that we, the people, priests, religious and bishop, listen to that call of Christ in a renewed way today.”
Born in Carlow
Bishop Dempsey was born in Carlow town on 20 April 1971.
In 1978 his family moved to Athy where he was educated by the Christian Brothers at primary and secondary level. In 1989, he began his studies for the priesthood and was ordained in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow by Bishop Laurence Ryan, on 6 July 1997.
Father Paul’s first appointment was as curate in Clane & Rathcoffey Parish, Co Kildare.
In 2004 he moved to Kildare town as curate and was also appointed Youth Director and Vocations Director for the diocese by Bishop Jim Moriarty.
In 2008, he pursued further studies in the Milltown Institute, Dublin where he completed an Honours Master’s Degree in Theology in the area of Faith & Culture.
His thesis was entitled “The Contemporary Irish Catholic Church – A Church in Crisis or in Question?”
On completion of his studies, Father Paul took up his appointment as curate in the parish cluster of Naas, Sallins and Two-Mile-House in 2009.
In August, 2014, he was appointed to Newbridge Parish and also as Vicar Forane for the Kildare & Leighlin North Deanery consisting of 17 parishes.
In September 2015, he was appointed Parish Priest of Newbridge and Administrator of Caragh and Prosperous Parishes.
On January 27 last, he was appointed Bishop of Achonry by Pope Francis.
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