Mar­ried men of the cloth take up duty

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - NEWS -

THE or­di­na­tion of three new dea­cons to the Dio­cese of Kerry was widely wel­comed within the pas­toral district this week at a time when the Catholic Church is strug­gling to man­age the heavy work­load of the county.

The three newly or­dained dea­cons are set to bol­ster the work of the Dio­cese of Kerry and will con­trib­ute to min­istry in their na­tive parishes. Rev De­nis Kelle­her (Tralee), Rev Thady O’Con­nor (Kil­cum­min) and the Rev Pa­trick Cof­fey (Kil­lor­glin) bring to five the num­ber of dea­cons in the Dioe­cese along­side Rev Conor Bradley in Mill­town and Rev Jan Yves Le­tan­neur in Tahilla, Sneem.

Although they are not priests, the three newly-or­dained dea­cons are nonethe­less ad­dressed as ‘fa­ther’ by a se­lect few: their chil­dren.

In­deed, Satur­day’s or­di­na­tion cer­e­mony at St John’s in Tralee was marked by deep fam­ily warmth as the duty of rob­ing the men in their new vest­ments was per­formed by their wives.

And their chil­dren played a key role in the event, not least Thady O’Con­nor’s daugh­ter Pa­tri­cia whose tal­ented singing moved the large gath­er­ing as she per­formed the Re­spon­so­rial Psalm and the epic Litany of Saints to per­fec­tion.

The Per­ma­nent Di­a­conate of which the three Kerry men are now mem­bers is among the old­est of­fices of the Church, but one the Church has greater re­course to of late as vo­ca­tions plum­met.

Dea­cons can ful­fill most of the func­tions of priests, up to but not in­clud­ing the cel­e­bra­tion of Mass. The Dio­cese of Kerry de­scribes their work as in­volv­ing three ma­jor ar­eas of min­istry: Li­turgy, Sa­cred Scrip­ture and Char­ity.

Un­der the litur­gi­cal work they can pre­pare for the sacra­ments and of­fi­ci­ate at bap­tisms, wed­dings and fu­ner­als; dis­trib­ute the Eucharist at par­ish litur­gies and to the sick and dy­ing; and pre­side at bene­dic­tion and other prayer ser­vices. Un­der sa­cred scrip­ture they can pro­claim the gospel and preach; pro­mote Bible read­ing and study; and pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for re­li­gious ed­u­ca­tion. And un­der char­ity they can min­is­ter to the poor, visit the sick and those in prison.

Photo by John Cleary

Bishop of Kerry Ray Browne with the Dio­cese’s three new dea­cons fol­low­ing their or­di­na­tion at St John’s Church in Tralee on Satur­day. From left: Thady O’Con­nor, from Kil­cum­min, De­nis Kelle­her, from Tralee and Kil­lor­glin man Pa­trick Cof­fey.

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