Biography of the Dean

This page gives me the opportunity to tell you a bit about myself. I was born in in Singapore in 1969. I am the middle child, I have two sisters. My family was very involved in the church and we used to attend the church of St Vincent del Paul. It was there at the age of five that I first sensed a call to the priesthood, whatever that meant to one so young! I think was very much influenced by a much-loved parish priest, Fr Saussard.

My family moved to Perth in 1983 and I am grateful for the welcome we received in our this land. The immigration policy then was very welcoming. We joined the Floreat parish and were part of it for many years before moving to the Doubleview Parish. I completed my last two years of secondary education at Churchlands Senior High School and began an engineering degree at Curtin University of Technology. Partway through my first year I 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.

Archbishop Bill Foley accepted me as a seminarian for Perth and I commenced formation at St Francis Xavier Seminary in Adelaide in 1988. I am grateful for the formation I received in the seminary community and the intellectual stimulation of my theological studies.

In 1993 I was ordained as deacon by Bishop Bob Healy at Our Lady of the Rosary Church, Doubleview. And in 1994 I was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Hickey at St Mary’s Cathedral.

1994 – Fr Sean at his ordination with his parents and sisters.
1994 – Fr Sean was ordained to the priesthood with Fr Steven Casey. Fr Philip Perreau and Fr Hyunh Nguyen were ordained deacons at the same time.

My first posting was as assistant priest to the Whitford Parish under Fr Tim Corcoran and later Fr Geoff Aldous. I am thankful to the the parish community for those years; I learnt much about priesthood and ministry from them and from my parish priests. After Whitford I had brief stints assisting at Kalgoorlie and then as priest-in-charge of the Floreat-Wembley parish and the City Beach parish. These were temporary assignments while I was waiting for the new term to commence in Rome. In late 1999 I was sent to Rome to pursue further study. I 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 Cardinal Newman’s Development of Doctrine.

2004 – While doing post-grad studies at Rome, Fr Sean receiving a blessing from Pope John Paul II at an audience.

After I took the licence, Archbishop Hickey very generously allowed me to stay on and commence doctoral work at the Gregorian. The doctorate was on aspects of Trinitarian theology. Most of the work was done in Rome, but I owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Eamon Duffy who invited me to spend time at Magdalene College and developer my thesis further. In both Cambridge as in Rome, I have had the opportunity to sit at the feet of renowned theologians who were very generous with their time. While doing doctoral work at the Gregorian I taught as a very-junior member on the faculty of theology in the discipline of fundamental theology.

My thesis was supervised by Professor Gerald O’Collins SJ AC and was completed and defended in 2006.

At the completion of my studies I 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. Santa Maria College and the Pignatelli campus of Mel Maria Catholic Primary school were within the Attadale Parish and I had the privilege of providing pastoral care to both schools. It is an aspect of my ministry I remember with great fondness.

2006 – Fr Sean, Bishop Sproxton, and Fr Sean’s parents, Eddy and Shirley, after the Mass at which he was installed parish priest of Attadale.

A new church project for Attadale was started around 2011 and the church was finally dedicated by Archbishop Costelloe in 218.

2018 – Archbishop Costelloe consecrates new church at Attadale

At the end of two six-year terms in Attadale, Archbishop Costelloe appointed me Dean and Administrator of St Mary’s Cathedral. I still teach part-time at the University of Notre Dame Australia.

You will notice, I hope, my gratitude for so many blessings. An important part of my journey through seminary and priestly life has been the retreats I have done in the Ignatian spiritual tradition. I have been blessed to make the Spiritual Exercises, once in 1997 at Campion House, Kew and the second time in 2019 at Sevenhill. This tradition of spirituality given to the church by St Ignatius Loyola and the Society of Jesus has been significant in shaping the way I view ministry and the world. Everything is gift to be used in loving freedom for God’s greater glory.

I am grateful for the mercy of God which has kept me in my vocation. There really is no greater privilege than that of being a parish priest. We are given the opportunity to walk with people through the joys and sorrows of life. My story is really of the mercy and generosity of God. The Lord continues to look on me with prodigal tenderness and I feel called to witness to his mercy which is from everlasting to everlasting.