Biography of the Dean
Fr Sean Fernandez was born in Singapore in 1969. It was at the age of five in his parish of St Vincent de Paul that he first felt drawn to the priesthood. He traces it to the influence of a much loved parish priest, Fr Saussard.
In 1983 he moved with his parents and two sisters to Perth. The family was for many years part of the Floreat parish before moving to the Doubleview Parish. Fr Sean completed his last two years of secondary education at Churchlands Senior High School. He began an engineering degree at Curtin University of Technology, but partway through his first year he moved into the vocations discernment house located at the old St Charles Seminary in Guildford. The house was managed by Fr Justin Bianchini and Fr Don Sproxton.
He was accepted as seminarian by Archbishop Foley and commenced his formation at St Francis Xavier Seminary in Adelaide in 1988.
In 1993 he was ordained as deacon by Bishop Healy at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Doubleview. And in 1994 he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Hickey at St Mary’s Cathedral.
He was posted as assistant priest to the Whitford Parish under Fr Tim Corcoran and later Fr Geoff Aldous. After Whitford he had brief stints assisting at Kalgoorlie and then as priest-in-charge of the Floreat-Wembley parish and the City Beach parish. These postings took place while waiting for the new term to commence in Rome. In late 1999 Fr Sean was sent to Rome to pursue further study. He resided at the Pontifical Irish College, Rome while taking a Licence in Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. The licence specialisation was Fundamental Theology with a special interest in John Henry Cardinal Newman.
After his licence, he commenced doctoral work again at the Gregorian. The doctorate was on aspects of Trinitarian theology and though most of the work was done in Rome, the thesis took its shape during time spent at Magdalene College, Cambridge, at the invitation of Professor Eamon Duffy, President of the College. While doing doctoral work, Fr Sean was also on the faculty of theology at the Gregorian University teaching fundamental theology.
The thesis was supervised by Professor Gerald O’Collins SJ AC and was completed and defended in 2006.
At the completion of his studies he was appointed parish priest of the Attadale Parish and also took up a part-time appointment as Senior Lecturer in the College of Philosophy and Theology at the Fremantle Campus of the University of Notre Dame Australia. While at the parish he had the pastoral care of Santa Maria College.
He oversaw the construction and completion of a new church in Attadale.
The new church was dedicated by Archbishop Costelloe in 2018. At the end of two six-year terms in Attadale, Fr Sean was appointed Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral. Of his time in Attadale, he says,
It was a privilege to be part of the church-building project, but the bigger privilege was to be part of the parish community, to form relationships with the people of the parish and to minister to them. I can think of few greater privileges than that of being a parish priest.
Fr Sean continues to teach part-time at Notre Dame University.