Addresses by new Auxiliary Bishops of Dublin, Paul Dempsey and Donal Roche

27 May 2024

Caption (L-R) Bishop Donal Roche and Bishop Paul Dempsey, new Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese of Dublin, pictured during Trinity Sunday Mass for their ordination, and presentation, respectively, in Saint Andrew’s Church, Westland Row, Dublin (Catholic Communications Office archive)

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 10 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 Saint 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 Saint 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.

Address of Bishop Donal Roche
I wish to thank his Excellency, Archbishop Montemayor, Archbishop Farrell, as well as the other archbishops and bishops for welcoming me among your number today.  I am quite overwhelmed and feel undeserving of the honour that has been bestowed on me.  I thank my priest friends and colleagues from the diocese and from all over the country for your support and encouragement.  But most of all I want to thank you, my family, friends and parishioners from all the various appointments I have had on the way to this day.

They say that when you are dying, your life flashes before your eyes.  It feels a little like that today to see people from every stage of my life assembled here together: brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, in-laws and cousins; friends from my school days and friends I have made along the day – from schools in Coolock and Tallaght, parishes of Lucan South, Wicklow and Cabinteely; friends made during many summers in Donegal, and various others who were part of my journey.  I am thankful for all the conversations and celebrations, the breaking of bread in various kitchens and dining rooms as well as sharing at the table of the Eucharist in so many places and on so many occasions.  I have been greatly enriched by all these encounters and I thank you all sincerely for the great blessing you have been in my life.  I am very thankful to my late parents, for all they have given me, but particularly for the gift of faith.

From quite early in my life I have been inspired by the Gospel and have spent my life as a priest trying to get to know the person of Jesus and trying to follow his teaching.  The motto I have chosen as a bishop is inspired by a line from the psalms ‘Your word is a lamp for my steps and a light for my path’. I have shortened it to ‘Do Bhriathar Mo Sholas’ – ‘Your Word is my light’.  While continually inspired by the Gospel, I can’t say I have always lived it well, but it never fails to encourage me, and it never fails to give me hope, urging me to begin again.

Today has been a wonderful celebration for the church in the Archdiocese and I am very thankful to all the people who worked so hard to make it possible – those responsible for the liturgy and the music, the servers and welcomers, and all those working behind the scenes making sure everything was prepared and ready.  You have worked enormously hard and I am very grateful to you all.

But what about tomorrow? When the celebrations are over there’s work to be done and I am very aware of the huge task ahead.  We face enormous challenges as a church for which there are no easy solutions.  In recent weeks, people have been asking me what are your views on this or that or what will you do about the various challenges we face?  People are rightly worried about declining vocations, the shortage of young people in the church, the changing face of parish life and so many other issues.  I don’t come with ready-made answers, but I come with an open heart, a willingness to listen, an enthusiasm for the mission ahead and most of all, I come with hope for the future.

My hope is to remain faithful to the Gospel myself and continue to preach it to the best of my ability.  I hope that, with Bishop Paul, I will be a support to Archbishop Farrell and to the priests of the diocese as we plan for a future that is going to look very different from the church into which we were originally ordained.  I hope to be a source of hope and encouragement to the faithful of the diocese who are living out their baptismal calling in parishes throughout the diocese.  And I hope to be able to make connections with young people who are open to the call of God, those who are seeking faith, those who may be disillusioned or hurt or wounded.

I don’t mean this to sound like a political speech or an election manifesto but, unlike a politician seeking election, I am not claiming any special strength or qualities of my own.  My hope and my strength come from the promise of Jesus to his disciples which we heard in the Gospel today.  He sent them out make disciples of the nations, not by their own strength, but with the strength of the Holy Spirit.  And with the promise ‘know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’.