Sunday, May 26, 2024

Address of Bishop Paul Dempsey

Firstly, my heartiest congratulations go to Bishop Donal. It’s lovely to be here today with your family and loved ones as well as so many gathered from around the Archdiocese. 

I look forward to working with you Donal as we support Archbishop Dermot in his ministry as Chief Shepherd in the service of the people, priests, religious and deacons of the Diocese. May the Lord bless you with love and strength.

I thank all in the Archdiocese who have been so welcoming to me since the announcement in Tuam on the 10th of April. Archbishop Dermot, the people, priests, deacons and religious have been so supportive which is deeply appreciated. Thanks to His Excellency, Archbishop Montemayor, for his support and guidance over these weeks and months. To my family, friends and loved ones, to those in the Diocese of Achonry and Kildare and Leighlin Diocese, my brother bishops and priests, and all who have had such an important part in my life’s story, thank you for your love and support which is a source of great strength for me. To all those who organised today and those involved here in the ceremony… Mile Buiochas!

Over recent weeks, people have been asking me what I’ll be doing as an auxiliary bishop, it has probably been the same for Donal. It reminds me of an experience last year when I was visiting a Confirmation Class in country school in Co. Sligo a few days before Confirmation. During a questions and answers session, one of the kids asked me what a typical day in the life of a bishop was like? It was a good question! I proceeded to tell the class what that particular day was like for me…

I got up, said my few prayers, had Mass in the Cathedral… breakfast…. Then on to check the post, emails. I had a meeting then off to visit the school and all the classes/teachers. Then back to my office to finish off more letters, I had another meeting, then finish with a Zoom meeting that night…

At the end of all that, one kid put up his hand and asked in all innocence: Do you have a real job as well? There’s always one!

However, he was making a good point and he got me thinking… What is my “real job,” real ‘calling?’ we can forget the most important things in the day-to-day busyness of everyday life. Always important to reconnect with what’s at the heart of our call. The heart of my call as priest and bishop and as one immersed into the life of Christ on the day I was Baptised, is to share the message and continue the mission of Jesus Christ.

That’s a challenging mission today. We have come through an enormous amount of change as a society and a Church. We have had to confront difficult truths that were necessary to face. This will always be part of our story. However, in the midst of all this change, the mission remains the same. As baptised Christians we proclaim Jesus Christ in season and out of season. Some would say the Church hasn’t a voice anymore, the Church is dying and no longer has a place in the public square. Pope St John XXIII referred to them as the “prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster.” They are always with us. It is important to remember that the Church is not dying, it is a model of Church that is dying. We are on the cusp of something new. The Church is always in a process of renewal. We, as the baptised, are part of that story, right now in this moment.

Pope Francis, as he leads us on the Synodal Path, is helping us to reengage with the Church as the People of God which was proclaimed by the Second Vatican Council. This is an exciting moment! We don’t have to have it all worked out, far from it, we just need to be open to the Spirit, listen to where the Spirit is calling us, and do not be afraid!

The beautiful image of the Trinity we reflect upon today reminds us of the importance of community and togetherness. So let us go forward together knowing we are held in the embrace of a God who loves us profoundly. Having this foundation enables us to be open to the possibilities of tomorrow. As St. John Paul II reminded the young people at World Youth Day in 2002 in Toronto: “Although I have lived through much darkness, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in our hearts. Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it!” This is our real ‘job’, our real calling today as disciples, to build hope, as pilgrims of hope.

Thank you so much for being here today, thank you for your love and support, please continue to pray for me and those of us who have been called to serve the People of God, that we will be faithful to our mission.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh.

+Paul Dempsey

Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin