Hutton said Dempsey was known to take long bike rides and was just outside exercising on Monday when he was hit and killed.
“For a 72-year-old priest, he had the energy of a 35 or 40-year-old man,” Hutton said. “He would go out for 40, 50 mile bike rides without even thinking about it. He loved hiking in the woods, he loved kayaking, he loved helping others with projects. He was just so helpful and generous. . anybody.”
According to the church, Dempsey was ordained 41 years ago, serving many years as a parish priest in St. Paul and Northfield. He then served seven years as a missionary in Venezuela. He started at the Church of the Risen Savior in Burnsville last July.
“We have a very vibrant Anglophone and Latino community in our parish and Father Denny, being bilingual and having his missionary experience in Venezuela, was making great strides in helping to unify and bring these communities together,” Hutton said.
Just hours before his death, Dempsey posted a section on the church’s website called “Reflections from Father Denny,” sharing passages about love of God and love of neighbor. Church leaders said Dempsey does both daily.
“If more of us lived our lives with the love that he showed, this world would be a better place,” Hutton said.
Since Dempsey was only a few months away from his new assignment, his church had planned to do a welcome meeting for him this weekend. The church said it will now be a commemorative event.
The Church of the Risen Savior held a prayer vigil in memory of Father Denny on Tuesday evening.
Visits are scheduled to St. Dominic’s Church in Northfield from 4 pm to 8 pm Friday. A vigil will also take place on Friday in Saint-Dominique from 7 p.m.
The Church of the Risen Savior will then have visits from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Saturdays before a mass at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow at the Resurrection Cemetery in Mendota Heights.
The church also posted the following in memory of Dempsey:
Dear members of the Church of the Risen Savior,
It is with a heavy heart that we must share very sad news. We learned on Monday night that Father Denny Dempsey had cycled in Rosemount, as he loved to do so. He was struck by a motor vehicle and did not survive the impact.
The church will be open tonight from 6.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. with a prayer vigil from 7 p.m.
We know this is a complete shock and all come together in prayer for Father Denny, his family and for our Resurrected Savior parish. At this point, we have many more questions than answers. Archbishop Hebda and his team are already actively engaged in supporting us as we are only beginning to discern our way forward. The Archbishop will appoint a parish administrator as soon as possible to serve as interim pastor for our parish.
As would be Father Denny’s wish, we will continue the planned parish activities as planned. A welcome event previously scheduled for Father Denny next weekend, October 30-31, will turn into an opportunity for us to come together and remember our beloved pastor. Father Matthew Malek will preside over Masses at 5:00 p.m., 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and will help us deal with this loss. Mass in Spanish will also be celebrated at 1:00 p.m. as usual. After all the Masses, we will gather for fellowship, remembrance and snacks.
We will communicate the funeral arrangements for Father Denny as soon as they are available.
We are in the process of filling in the gaps for future weekends, funerals, weddings, etc. and we will keep you posted on developments. Do not hesitate to contact the parish staff with any questions (952) 431-5222.
We are all greatly affected by this sudden loss. We will live our faith knowing that God will provide. We will continue on the path Father Denny set out and rally together in a community of the Risen Savior.