by Brother Tom O’Dempsey

The use of a Religious Brother’s prayer-poems for daily reflection

An exercise in living the Paschal Mystery through contemplation

The focus is on “Paschal living – Our Ascension to God in Christ … Humanity uplifted to the Divine”

I have given over this space on my website to allow the publication of poetry by Brother Tom O’Dempsey, who is now in his seventies. This poetry is deeply prayerful, and springs from his many years as a Secondary teacher, as a full-time teacher in prisons, and as a contemplative. His background is Catholic, and his poetry reflects this. Yet the poetry is deeply ecumenical and Gospel-based.

The number of these PDFs will grow as the months go by, for Brother Tom has been prolific in his writings. He offers them as a gift to anyone who wishes to imbibe their spirit of prayerfulness and joyful openness to Jesus Christ.

Feel free to copy any of these poems for personal or group use, but not for publication.

Brother Tom says:

“Heartfelt thanks to Mr Patrick Oliver, my spiritual director since 2002, on whose website all my poetry is generously on offer.

Heartfelt thanks also too Br Kev McDade CFC, my friend since 1967, who has so very selflessly typed my poetry (1300 poems to 2018!).”

Br Tom O’Dempsey, now in his 70’s, has been a member of a Catholic religious Order for fifty years plus, in Queensland, Australia. His life has been divided into three key ministries:

Firstly, his calling as a Secondary Teacher of religion and humanities subjects, for sixteen years.

Secondly, his calling to a full-time teaching prison ministry, with courses on self-knowledge, personal relationships, anger management, and drug and alcohol education. This was also for sixteen years.

Thirdly, a perhaps deeper call to a contemplative prayer ministry (seventeen years) – hopefully as A Praying Heart For Others, sans frontiers.

The enduring focus of these prayer-poems is the Paschal Mystery, with a particular emphasis on Abba’s Embrace of the Ascended Jesus – and thus, of us. This Embrace is the focus of all our prayer, of our being en-Spirited for Mission, and of communing in the intimacy of the Fellowship within the Trinity.

These poems are arranged chronologically: 1960 … 2016.

apart from the first poem, No. 888 – “Faith: Our Journey into Now” (2008).

This poem is a sample poem from a folio of a later period.

Poem 888

Faith: Our Journey Into Now 1

Faith is co-journeying with Jesus,

Living his life, heartbeat by heartbeat,

As He lived it:

… a life, devotedly focussed, decision by decision,

On the Pass-over to His beloved Abba!

… Living His life, breath by breath, with him –

Not just by way of modelling it, repeating it,

But, with grace, by way of discovering and exploring it …

Lovingly, as He did.

In doing so, we claim His human identity,

And crucially, His Eucharistic destiny –

As Abba gave it to Him,

And as he chose to own it!

In truth, our faith-life is not our own, but his!

His Paschal consciousness is ours!

Thus, as the Creative Spirit enfleshes Jesus’ Divinity

Within our struggling humanity …

In faith, we too are incorporated

Into the Divinely-Human wonder

Of Jesus Risen!

Our faith has us journey

Through Jesus’ very own  growth and development –

Ever growing in His single-hearted affection for Abba!

Ever maturing in the wisdom of sacrificial loving!

Our faith has us enter Gethsemane’s  garden of crisis –

Living out his heart’s radical trusting

… Reversing, bit by bit, humanity’s betrayal

In Paradise’s garden , and in the unfolding human story.

Our faith has

–         Our hands riveted  to his cross by our sins

–         Our lips, hoarsely entrusting our life into Abba’s  care

–         Our heart, slashed open and emptied of self,

… yet being opened  to the Spirit’s entry!

Our faith has our spirits behold Abba’s Easter glory

Lighting our being from within:

… Divine joy, sun shining, within us!

… Divine life, thrilling, radiating, our humanity!

Our faith has us swept up into the arms of Love!

Into the ecstasy of the Prodigal’s return!

Into the Enrapture of Divine Fellowship

–         Into the Father’s most tender Embrace

–         Into the Spirit-who-is-Peace

Breathing through our being!

Our faith has us – having breathed in this Spirit –

Now breathing this Spirit forth into others,

Who co-indwell us, in Christ,

–         together, being swept up

Into the fellowship of Love,

As Abba, Jesus and Loyce 2

Live their Life within us

Filling us with Their Joy!

Yet, this is not our journey’s end

But its Eternal now

… For all things are ever new in Christ

–         In Christ, who is our journey, into now!


  1. Marian Valley Retreat (May), Eastertide 2008, Day 1
  2. My familiar name for the Spirit who is, at once, Love and Joy and Peace


Poems are written in chronological order.   P.1 = Poem 1.

From 1959 onwards …

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet A.pdf  

Folio 1: Poems 1-20                          Folio 2: Poems 21-40   

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet B.pdf                   

Folio 3: Poems 41-60                        Folio 4: Poems 61-80

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet C.pdf                   

Folio 5: Poems 81-100                      Folio 6: Poems 101-120

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet D.pdf                   

Folio 7: Poems 121-140                    Folio 8: Poems 141-160

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet E.pdf                   

Folio 9: Poems 161-180                    Folio 10: Poems 181-200                    Folio 11: Poems 201-220                      

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet F.pdf                   

Folio 12: Poems 221-240                  Folio 13: Poems 241-260                    Folio 14: Poems 261-280

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet G.pdf                   

Folio 15: Poems 281-299                  Folio 16: Poems 3090-319                  Folio 17: Poems 320-339

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet H.pdf                   

Folio 18: Poems 340-359                  Folio 19: Poems 360-379                    Folio 20: Poems 380-399

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet I.pdf                     

Folio 21: Poems 400-419                  Folio 22: Poems 420-439                    Folio 23: Poems 440-459

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet J.pdf                   

Folio 24: Poems 460-479                   Folio 25: Poems 480-499                    Folio 26: Poems 500-519

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet K.pdf                   

Folio 27: Poems 520-539                    Folio 28:  Poems 540-559                    Folio 29: Poems 560-579

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet L.pdf                   

Folio 30: Poems 580-599                    Folio 31: Poems 600-619                    Folio 32: Poems 620-639

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet M.pdf                   

Folio 33: Poems 640-659                    Folio 34: Poems 660-679                    Folio 35: Poems 680-699

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet N.pdf                   

Folio 36: Poems 700-719                    Folio 37: Poems 720-739                    Folio 38: Poems 740-759

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet O.pdf                   

Folio 39:Poems 760-779                    Folio 40: Poems 780-799                    Folio 41: Poems 800-819

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet P.pdf                   

Folio 42: Poems 820-839                    Folio 43: Poems 840-859                    Folio 44: Poems 860-879

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet Q.pdf                   

Folio 45: Poems 880-899                    Folio 46: Poems 900-919                    Folio 47: Poems 920-939              

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet R.pdf                   

Folio 48: Poems 940-959                    Folio 49: Poems 960-979                    Folio 50: Poems 980-999                   

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet S.pdf                   

Folio 51: Poems 1000-1019                Folio 52: Poems 1020-1039                Folio 53: Poems 1040-1059

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet T.pdf                    

Folio 54: Poems 1060-1079                Folio 55: Poems 1080-1099                Folio 56: Poems 1100-1119

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet U.pdf                   

Folio 57: Poems 1120-1139                Folio 58: Poems 1140-1159                Folio 59: Poems 1160-1179                   

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet V.pdf

Folio 60: Poems 1180-1199           Folio 61: Poems 1200-1219                  Folio 62: Poems 1220-1239

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet W.pdf

Folio 63: Poems 1240-1259         Folio 64: Poems 1260-1279                   Folio 65:  Poems 1280-1299

Praying the Paschal Mystery – Booklet X.pdf

Folio 66: Poems 1300-1319              Folio 67: Poems 1320-1339