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Bishops' appointment boosts deacon ministry

The Bishops Conference has affirmed the Permanent Diaconate in Australia by reappointing Deacon Shane O'Dea as the their Coordinator for the Permanent Diaconate, for a further three years.

Deacon O'Dea, 39, was ordained in 2000 and is a qualified accountant and tax agent and holds a degree in Philosophy and Theology. He lives in Adelaide and is married with a son. His ministry is focused on young families, in a cluster of three parishes in the inner suburbs.

He described his reappointment as an affirmation of the Bishops' desire to promote the ministry of deacons.

"The Bishops have been very clear about what they want," he said. "They want me to coordinate what's happening with deacons right around Australia and to respond to the needs of the diaconate, both in pastoral formation and in ongoing support."

"It's about building partnerships with organisations that already exist in the Church, such as a mentor program for the diaconate that is being developed with the National Council of Priests.

"My role is also about developing models for the diaconate so that individual dioceses can choose the one which best suits their needs."

Deacon O'Dea said the role of the deacon is to be an assistant to the bishop and especially to live with the people at the fringe of society and the Church, particularly those who experience social, spiritual or financial poverty. They are members of the clergy, having received the sacrament of orders and some deacons are married.

"Being a deacon is different from being a priest though," he said. "It brings different qualities into ministry and fulfils a different and quite distinct role. The diaconate is one of many ministries in the Church and deacons actively work with and encourage lay ministry. "

Deacon O'Dea said there are about 60 to 70 permanent deacons in Australia at the moment and that number was expected to double within five years.

Bishops' appointment affirms ministry of deacons (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 8/6/04)

Australian Catholic Deacons Association
Deacons Net | A Brief History of the Permanent Diaconate
Congregation for Catholic Education, Congregation for the Clergy: Basic norms for the formation of permanent deacons
Transitional deacon meets permanents at National Conference (CathNews 24/12/03)
Brisbane offering training for deacons (CathNews 6/12/01)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
National Commission for Clergy Life and Ministry: Permanent Diaconate
US Conference of Catholic Bishops: Secretariat for the Diaconate | Worldwide Statistics on the Diaconate as of 2001

9 Jun 2004