Ordination Homily of Archbishop Dermot Farrell and addresses of Bishops Roche and Dempsey

Ordination Homily of Archbishop Dermot Farrell and addresses of Bishops Roche and Dempsey

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Ordination of Father Donal Roche as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin and Welcoming of Bishop Paul Dempsey as Auxiliary Bishop in Dublin

Trinity Sunday 2024
St Andrew’s, Westland Row


Homily of Archbishop Dermot Farrell


Addresses of Bishop Donal Roche and Bishop Paul Dempsey

Homily of Archbishop Farrell

Only the heart can grasp the Trinity. Mysteries are not understood; mysteries are experienced. Who ‘understands’ love? Is love not known through experience? And death… let us not fool ourselves: we do not understand death, but we know death when we experience it, … and hope, and joy. All these vital dimensions of our life, are mysteries of the heart, and can only be grasped by the human heart.

It is our faith that God, our Father, sent his Son into time, into history, into the human condition. The Trinity is God for us, to use expression of the late American theologian, Catherine LaCugna. The first reading today assures us that God’s love is not something that remains nebulous and intangible. Rather, the saving activity of God is concrete and visible both in the great moments, and in the routines of everyday life. (Deut 4:32–34, 39–40). God’s self-revelation extends to our own experience; Moses helps us recognise it through a set of questions: “Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of a fire, as you heard it, and live? (Deut 4:32–33).

“The heart of Christian life, [then] is the encounter with [this] personal God who makes possible both our union with God and communion with each other.” (Catherine Mowery LaCugna, God for Us [San Francisco: Harper, 1991], 319). The Trinity proclaims that our God, who is beyond words and definitions, is made known for us in Jesus, in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord; and in the Holy Spirit who continues to empower and guide us on our pilgrimage through time, on our way home to our Father for whom we were created. The Christian recognises the face of God in the face of Christ. One could go further and say that the shape of the Christ’s life and ministry is the shape of the divine life in us, calling us, forming us, as persons and as communities into the image of the living, loving, out-reaching God. That is the Trinity—God reaches out: God reaches out to us and to all creation.

And there’s more: not only does God reach out to us, [but] God remains with us. [Our] God stands by us: “And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” The last, and therefore very important, words of Jesus are not a final command, or a last request, or even an ultimate counsel, but an assurance: “I am with you always…” (Matt 28:20). God sent his Son to be with us. This is our good news. We are not left on our own. “I am with you always.” This is who Jesus us—God with us: as it says at the beginning of the Gospel, “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, [a name] which means, ‘God-with-us.’ (Matt 1:23)

This is how our God is: with us. This is how Christ is: with us. This is what and how the Church truly is: God with us, and we with each other. The importance of today’s feast, lies herein: we do not just believe in God; we believe in God who is our Father and who shares his life with us. We do not just believe in the Son who was sent into the world to save and redeem us; we believe in the Son who is with us on our way, on good days and on dark days. We do not just believe in the Spirit, who is Lord and Giver of Life, as we pray in the Creed; we believe in the Spirit who is with us, who is the love of God poured into our hearts, and into the heart of every creature (see Romans 5:5). “For the word of the Lord is faithful and all God’s works to be trusted,” as we prayed in the Psalm today. “The Lord loves justice and right and fills the earth with his love.”

To celebrate the Trinity is not to mark some sophisticated theological formula; no, to celebrate this Solemnity is to stand before the mystery of our God whose imperative and initiative it is to share his life with us, who is closer to us than we are to ourselves, and present to us even when, in our blindness and self-absorption, we are not present to ourselves, who remains faithful to us, even when we abandon each other. To be Church, to live our faith, is to live this mystery with all its power, potential, and demands. To be Church is to live our faith together, and together to bear witness to the surprise and wonder of our God, and God’s way with us.

Today, the Church in Dublin, receives two auxiliary bishops. In seeking two auxiliary bishops, I had to the fore the need of our diocese to respond to the rapidly-changing social and pastoral needs of our people. The Church of today is called to be, in the words of Pope Francis, “capable of transforming everything, so that [our] customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelisation of today’s world, rather than for her [own] self-preservation.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 27). Donal and Paul, through your closeness to people you have laboured to transform your parishes into places, open to the Spirit, where all are offered a welcome. It is this very pastoral orientation that gives me the greatest joy in ordaining you, Donal, to the episcopate this day, and welcoming you, Paul into the Archdiocese.

Donal and Paul you have been chosen from among the flock for a life of service. The trajectories of your ministerial lives will help you to engage with a society which is increasingly diverse, mobile, and detached from traditional communities of faith centred on residential parishes. It would be a mistake for us as a local Church to see these challenges as temporary, or as limited in their implications for the life of the Church in Dublin. We are called to reimagine our pastoral mission in a creative way, and discover and re-discover ways of permitting Christ’s good news, God’s open door, to be received by those who do not yet recognise his face. We can no longer seek to patch an old garment, with new-found fabrics. We need new wineskins (see Mark 2:22). We need to re-examine the fundamental assumptions of our pastoral outreach in order to help our people and our parishes find the way to an encounter with our living Lord, with greater confidence and hope.

It is often forgotten that leadership—both pastoral and spiritual—is a key characteristic of priesthood. This is a fortiori the case for the bishop. “Tend the flock of God that is entrusted you; watch over it, not out of necessity but gladly, as God would have you do it, not for shameful gain, but eagerly. Do not lord it over those is in your charge, but be an example to the flock” (1 Pet 5:2; see also Rite of Ordination). These words from the First Letter of St Peter—words taken up by the Rite of Ordination we are about to celebrate—are words not only about the faithful entrusted to us, they are also words about all the people of God, the whole “flock of God.” “The vocation of the Church is to be catholic, that is, to reach out towards all of humanity.” (Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline, “Words of Welcome at the Installation of Bishop Laurent Le Boul’ch as Archbishop of Lille.” May 20, 2023) Today, in this city and in this country, when questions about the rights of migrants and refugees, and our capacity to welcome them are being raised, and at times manipulated, must we in leadership in the Church not “offer to all the friendship of Christ, especially to the poor, to the excluded, those isolated, to migrants, [but also] to the sick,” (ibid.) to the vulnerable, and to those whose bodies have been devastated, and whose lives, families, and communities have been degraded by cycles of dependency, and by the fear instilled by those who cynically profit from the fragility of their brothers and sisters. If our Lord is with us, is his very presence not a call to genuine solidarity with each other, especially those most in need of God’s gentle embrace?

Donal and Paul, may you today place your trust in God’s providence, knowing that the gift that Paul has received through the laying on of hands, and Donal that gift you will receive today, has been given from apostolic times, that you may keep constantly before your eyes that Jesus who, in the Spirit, was sent by the Father to be with us and for us (see Rom 8:31). May the Crucified and Risen Lord make you even more profoundly his, for your own sakes, for the sake of our people whom we love, and the sake of the world in which we are called to serve.

+Dermot Farrell
Archbishop of Dublin




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’.

+Donal Roche
Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin


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 the 10th of 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 St 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 St. 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.

+Paul Dempsey
Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin