FR MIKE DEEB OP APPOINTED TO THE UN
Fr Mike Deeb OP has been appointed the Dominican Order’s Permanent Delegate at the United Nations as from 1 January 2014.
Fr Mike is at present the Justice and Peace co-ordinator at the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ conference in Pretoria, a position he has held since 2008.
He will be based at the Dominican headquarters in Rome and will work mainly in Geneva. However, he will also need to work from time to time in the other UN centres, such as New York, Vienna, Nairobi and Bangkok. His appointment will be for 6 years.
Fr Mike describes his new job as “challenging and focussed”. He will be reporting to the Master and General Council of the Order. The job involves spearheading the Order’s preaching to governments, lobbying in the background and working together with other Catholic NGOs . A main focus will be on Human Rights issues and taking up issues being felt and dealt with on the ground by Dominicans around the world. Much effort will be put into advocacy work, networking and lobbying.
Fr Mike takes over from a French Dominican who has been doing the job for the last six years. There will be a certain amount of travel but not necessarily very much. From time to time he will be visiting regions around the world to get a first hand experience of challenges on the ground.
A big challenge will be to put in place communication mechanisms downwards so that the Dominican family around the world can be informed about what is happening at the UN level.
Fr Mike comes to his new job with a wealth of experience. He was the International chaplain to the International Movement for Catholic Students (IMCS) and the international Young Catholic Students (IYCS) and was based in Paris for eight years. He also travelled much during this time and has a rich experience of the situations in many countries. Prior to that he worked in the diocese of Kroonstad and then served as the superior of the Dominican study house in Cedara as well as the chaplain of the Pietermaritzburg university. Following on his time in France he became the Co-Ordinator of ustice and Peace of the SACBC and has done much to help bishops, priests and laity in all 29 dioceses to appreciate the centrality of work for Justice and Peace in the life of the Church. He has learnt French and Spanish and with this international experience especially in the field of youth, human rights and justice and peace, it could not have been too difficult for the Master of the Order to make the choice of Fr Deeb. He seems cut out for the job.
However, he has mixed feelings about his new ministry. He was “dismayed” when he heard about the appointment. Work in the United Nations is hard and often has no visible results, joy or excitement. But it is an honour and a call. He is sad to be leaving South Africa at this challenging time after a fulfilling ministry. He leaves behind many connections and friends with whom he will now have to engage from a distance. This is the life of an itinerant preacher. He also leaves behind a big vacuum in the Dominican family in South Africa. However, we know that he will bring his own in depth experience to his new job and make us proud.