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Fr Paul Dempsey ordained Bishop of Achonry

By Katie Ascough - 31 August, 2020

For his motto, Bishop Dempsey chose ‘Duc in Altum’, coming from the miraculous fishing event narrated in Luke’s Gospel.

Bishop Paul Dempsey (right) with Bishop Denis Nulty

Bishop Paul Dempsey was ordained Bishop of Achonry on Sunday 30 August in the Cathedral of the Annunciation and Saint Nathy in Ballaghaderreen, County Roscommon.  

Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam was the principal consecrator and His Excellency Archbishop Jude Thaddeus Okolo, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, and Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare & Leighlin were the co-consecrators. Fr Vincent Sherlock, parish priest of Kilmovee in County Mayo, preached the homily during the ordination Mass.  

For his motto, Bishop Dempsey chose ‘Duc in Altum’, coming from the miraculous fishing event narrated in Luke’s Gospel whereby Jesus invites Simon, disappointed after a poor night’s fishing on Lake Gennesaret, to try again: “Put out into the deep, and let down the nets for a catch”, which in Latin translates as Duc in altum et laxate retia vestra in capturam. Simon is completely overcome by the catch they make; Jesus then invites Simon, despite his unworthiness, to follow him and to become a “fisher of men”. Simon “left everything and followed him…” 

In his homily, Fr Sherlock spoke about the family members of Bishop Dempsey who couldn’t be present at the ceremony — his parents having passed away, and his sisters unable to travel due to the pandemic. He also spoke about the gospel of the day, which was about “picking up the cross and following Christ”, and linked it to the cross that Bishop Dempsey will now count as one of the symbols of his office — the bishop’s cross that will hang around his neck.

He spoke about Bishop Dempsey’s motto Duc in Altum, remarking that there are fish, perhaps some that cannot be seen by the naked eye, that are “swimming near the bottom or hiding in the rushes — but they are there. So too, people of faith, people trying to swim and often against the tide — people caught up in the rushes, drifting and uncertain. They need to hear the casting of the line, the lowering of the net and above all the patient waiting of the fisherman, who knows the waters, the flow of the stream and the new bridge [referring to Bishop Dempsey] to cross it.”

Fr Sherlock reminded Bishop Dempsey that he can ask for help, support and prayers from those around him. “May God who has begun the good work in you, bring it to fulfilment,” he concluded.

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