Pope names Newbridge priest as Bishop of Achonry

The parish priest of Newbridge in Co Kildare has been named Bishop of the Diocese of Achonry.

Pope names Newbridge priest as Bishop of Achonry

The parish priest of Newbridge in Co Kildare has been named Bishop of the Diocese of Achonry.

The appointment of Father Paul Dempsey as Bishop was announced today in the Vatican by Pope Francis.

Father Paul told parishoners at a Mass today he is "still not over the shock" of being offered his new role.

"I’m sure you can understand how daunting it is to take on the role of bishop in a new diocese," he said.

"I’m conscious of my own unworthiness and sinfulness as I take on this role. I ask you to be patient with me as I endeavour to get to know the priests, people, deacons and religious of the diocese in the coming weeks and months."

Archbishop Eamon Martin said Father Paul's will provide a great foundation for his new role.

"Since 2015, Bishop-elect Dempsey has been parish priest of Newbridge - one of the largest and most vibrant parishes in the country," he said.

He is known as a hard-working and caring pastor who will no doubt be missed greatly by the people, clergy and religious of his native diocese.

"The pastoral experience and wisdom he has gained in Kildare & Leighlin will be of huge benefit to him as he takes up the role of shepherd of God’s people in Achonry."

Archbishop Michael Neary also welcomed the news.

"I look forward to working with Father Dempsey, and on behalf of the bishops of the Tuam Province, I warmly welcome him and assure him of our help and support as he assumes his new responsibilities," he said.

Father Paul will be ordained on Sunday, April 19.

"We warmly welcome his appointment and, on behalf of the priests, religious and people of the diocese, I thank him for accepting it," said Father Dermot Meehan, diocesan administrator of the diocese of Achonry.

"It is a reason for rejoicing for us in Achonry that a priest of Father Paul’s calibre and extensive experience in pastoral ministry in his native diocese of Kildare and Leighlin comes to us as our new bishop.

I strongly suspect that our gain in Achonry in having Father Paul as our new bishop is a great loss for the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin and we are grateful that you generously give him to us.

Father Paul Dempsey was born in Carlow town in 1971. He is the first native of Carlow town appointed a Bishop in Ireland in 130 years.

His family moved to Athy, Co Kildare in 1978 and he joined the seminary in 1989. During his formation for the priesthood his mother, Berry, died from cancer in February 1994 and his father, Tony, died suddenly twelve days later.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Laurence Ryan in 1997.

Father Paul’s 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, Father Paul organised two diocesan World Youth Day pilgrimages to Cologne (2005) and Sydney (2008) as well as many other youth initiatives.

Father Paul also presented a weekly religious and social affairs programme on Kildare FM Radio on Sunday mornings.

In 2008, Father Paul completed an Honours Master’s Degree in Theology in the area of faith and culture. On completion of his studies, he took up his appointment as curate in parish cluster of Naas, Sallins and Two-Mile-House in 2009.

In August 2014, Bishop Denis Nulty appointed Father Paul to Newbridge Parish and also as Vicar Forane for the Kildare and Leighlin North Deanery consisting of 17 parishes.

Father Paul was appointed parish priest of Newbridge and administrator of Caragh and Prosperous parishes in 2015. The parish has approximately 32,000 parishioners.

"He is a great collaborator with priests and people," said Bishop Denis Nulty.

"Father Paul’s going from Kildare anfd Leighlin leaves a deep void 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 & Leighlin, to see one of our own, with his gifts and potential, recognised by Pope Francis.

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