Msgr. Michael Dempsey, a senior Brooklyn priest and a pioneer in national television ministry, died March 10 at his private residence in Astoria. He was 84.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated March 17 at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, Forest Hills. He had resided at the parish rectory from 1961 to 2010.
Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez was the main celebrant of the funeral Mass.
Born in Most Precious Blood parish, Astoria, he attended St. Patrick’s School, L.I.C.; Power Memorial H.S., Manhattan; St. Francis College, Brooklyn Heights; and Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington.
He served as an assistant at St. Finbar’s, Bath Beach, 1958-60, and then was assigned to The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., where he earned a master’s degree in educational psychology.
From 1961 to 1971, he was assistant superintendent of schools, working on religious educaton, special education, curriculum projects and teacher personnel.
Between 1962 and 1966, he designed and built the Brooklyn Diocesan Television Network. In 1969, he was elected president of the Catholic Television Network.
From 1971 to 1978, he was Secretary of Education, earning a doctoral degree in the history and philosophy of education from Fordham University in 1973.
In 1978, he was named director of the Office of Pastoral Communications, which eventually was responsible for the formation and running of The Prayer Channel, the diocesan cable TV network, the predecessor to today’s NET-TV.
He also served as a consultant to the U.S. bishops on the USCC Satellite Project.
He retired from full-time duty in 2007 but continued to serve as executive director of Trans Video Communications.
In January 2010, Msgr. Dempsey was placed on administrative leave (Can. 1722) by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio upon notification that Monsignor was being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security. Upon the completion of that investigation, however, the federal government declined to bring charges. Upon review of the information provided by the Diocese of Brooklyn in this matter, the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith advised Bishop DiMarzio to restore him to the status of senior priest and grant him faculties to resume limited priestly ministry, which were to be reviewed periodically and adjusted accordingly.
Msgr. Dempsey is survived by his brother, Robert of Sag Harbor.
Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, on Saturday, March 18, at 10:30 a.m.