THREE Kerry men have started training to become deacons in the Catholic Church.
A programme for a permanent diaconate in the Kerry Diocese was announced a year ago, following approval from Rome for its introduction in Ireland.
Three applicants – Conor Bradley, Milltown, Raymond Gilbourne, Millstreet, and Jean Yves Letanneur, Sneem – have now begun a first-year programme at the Dominican Ennismore Conference Centre, in Cork.
Deacons played an important part in the life of the church for the first five centuries. Gradually, the office was absorbed into the priesthood and the ministry of permanent deacons fell into disuse.
In 1964, the Second Vatican Council called for the restoration of the ministry as an enrichment of the life of the Church.
Since then, the role of the permanent deacon has been defined in terms of the three-fold ministry of liturgy, sacred scripture and charity.
Duties include officiating at baptisms, marriages and funerals; sacramental preparation; distribution of the eucharist, leading benediction and prayer services, sacred scripture and preaching.
Deacons also serve the poor and marginalised, visit the sick and those in prison.
The ministry is for men only and candidates can be married, aged between 35 and 60, or unmarried aged 25 to 60. Unmarried candidates are required to take a vow of celibacy.
Candidates must be men of “strong faith and devotion to the church”, capable of doing further studies of scripture and theology over a four-year period and already actively involved in lay ministry or leadership in the community.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved