Don’t stay on shoreline, ‘cast into deep’ says new bishop

Don’t stay on shoreline, ‘cast into deep’ says new bishop Bishop Paul Dempsey before the ceremony with Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Bishop Denis Nulty Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin and Archbishop Michael Neary Archbishop of Tuam. Photo: John Mc Elroy

The new bishop of Achonry, ordained on Sunday, called on the faithful to “go out to where Christ is calling us”.

Bishop Paul Dempsey’s episcopal ordination took place in the Cathedral of The Annunciation and St Nathy, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon. The principal consecrator was Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam, assisted by Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Papal Nuncio to Ireland and Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin – Bishop Dempsey’s native diocese.

In his address at the end of the ceremony, Bishop Dempsey spoke of why he chose the motto Duc in Altum, meaning ‘put out into the deep’, which is taken from Luke 5:4.

He said: “In that passage, Peter and the disciples were wearisome, fed up, tired… perhaps a bit like ourselves at this time. But it is in that very moment Jesus appears to them on the shore.  He sees things differently. He sees an opportunity in the moment.  He invites them, challenges them to: ‘Put out into the deep water…’

“We’re all familiar with the story and what happens, but we must be careful not to reduce this to Jesus simply asking them to try again! He wasn’t telling them to try again, he was inviting them, asking them, challenging them to go farther out into unchartered waters.

“He wanted them to go beyond what was familiar and safe to a place they had never gone before!  Not only that, dropping their nets in that deep place involved more work, more energy, more effort than staying by the safe shoreline.

Bishop Dempsey continued: “Surely this must resonate with us in the Church today.  Perhaps we have become satisfied with the shoreline, the place that is familiar and safe?  Or do we hear that call of Christ in a renewed way today to the Church; ‘Go out, go out into the deep…’

“We can all agree that this is not an easy task, we too like the disciples can find ourselves wearisome, fearful, tired.  But it was in the midst of all these struggles, that very moment that Jesus appeared and called his disciples. He doesn’t stand at the shoreline calling to us from a distance, he has climbed into the boat with us!”

He added that his vision for the diocese is that the faithful listen to the call of Christ “in a renewed way today” and asked that we not be “prisoners of mediocrity, but agents of hope”.


Introducing the celebration, Archbishop Michael Neary said that in keeping with his name, Paul, Bishop Dempsey “will invest his ministry with responsibility, love, service and self-giving”.

“In a spirit of thanksgiving, recognising the way in which God continues to care for and bless us we turn to him now in our Eucharist and ask him to bless Fr Paul and all those to whom he will minister as a bishop. We ask God’s forgiveness for times when we have been guilty of ingratitude towards the Lord and towards one another.”