Pope Francis has appointed Carlow-born Fr Paul Dempsey as the new Bishop of Achonry. The announcement was made in a communique released by the Vatican this morning (Monday).
Up to this point, Fr Dempsey (48) has been Parish Priest of Newbridge in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.
Primate of All-Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin congratulated Bishop-elect Dempsey saying that “his service to the Church, particularly in the areas of youth ministry, communications and on matters concerning faith and culture, is well known and will provide a great foundation for his pastoral leadership as a diocesan bishop”.
Speaking at St Nathy’s Cathedral in Ballaghaderreen this morning, Bishop-elect Dempsey indicated that youth will be a particular focus of his ministry in Achonry.
Addressing youth in the congregation, he said: “I have often heard it said that young people are the future of the Church, but we must remember you are not just the future, you are the Church of today!
“Each one of you is created by God in a unique and special way. He has a special mission in mind for each one of you. You are His disciples!” he said.
The bishop-elect said his years in ministry as a priest to this point have “brought me immense joy”.
“I have felt loved and supported all throughout the years by my brother priests, parishioners, deacons, friends and religious. They have all helped me to grow as a person and as a priest, enabling me to say today that I love being a priest, despite the many challenges that have been part of the journey for any of us who have travelled this road,” he said.
Fr Dempsey was born in Carlow Town in 1971 – the youngest in his family, having one brother and two sisters.
He was ordained to the priesthood in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow, by Bishop Laurence Ryan in 1997.
His first appointment was as curate in Clane and Rathcoffey Parish, Co. Kildare. It was during this time that he started a weekly article in the Leinster Leader newspaper.
After seven years he moved to Kildare Town as curate and was also appointed Youth Director and Vocations Director for the diocese by Bishop Jim Moriarty. During this time, Fr Paul organised two diocesan World Youth Day pilgrimages to Cologne (2005) and Sydney (2008) as well as many other youth initiatives. Fr Paul also presented a weekly religious and social affairs programme on Kildare FM Radio on Sunday mornings.
In 2008, he completed further studies in the Milltown Institute, Dublin earning an Honours Master’s Degree in Theology in the area of Faith and Culture for a thesis entitled ‘The Contemporary Irish Catholic Church – A Church in Crisis or in Question?’
He then took up his appointment as curate in parish cluster of Naas, Sallins and Two-Mile-House in 2009 and in August, 2014, Bishop Denis Nulty appointed him to Newbridge Parish and also as Vicar Forane for the Kildare & Leighlin North Deanery consisting of 17 parishes.
Welcoming his appointment to Archonry, Bishop Nulty said it leaves a “deep void” in Kildare and Leighlin “since his contribution to the diocese has been immense.
“We will certainly miss him but we are also very proud of his achievement and appointment this day. Today is a great day for Kildare and Leighlin, to see one of our own, with his gifts and potential, recognised by Pope Francis,” Bishop Nulty said.