Married men of the cloth take up duty
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.
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.