Sunday, January 20, 2008

Vocations Coverage in the Irish Catholic media

Since the news of the holding of the Year of Prayer for Vocations in Ireland, (April 2008 to May 2009) there has been a fair deal of coverage in the Irish Catholic media. Elsewhere in this blog you will see some reference to this. This is encouraging. I was particularly pleased to see one commentator in the current edition of the Irish Catholic newspaper (edition January 17, 2008)call for the need to get rid of the word 'crisis' each time we speak of vocations promotion. Think about it! The two words really have lapsed into our vocabulary about vocations.

Not all of the coverage is positive, however. In the same issue, an article entitled 'Vocations, like the Dead Sea, are drying up!' written by a priest of the Dublin diocese. He cites reading a report about abuse in an Irish docese as a reason why people trust in the Church much less. It is a pity that this is his starting point. No one denies the terrible hurt and anger, but those who are thinking of committing themselves these days as possible seminarians or religious to the Irish church have known no other time than for the Church to be in crisis, and trying desperately to deal with it. 'The lack of trust is pivotal in the dearth of vocations' says this priest - and yet, in my experience as vocations director, I have only heard this sentiment from one enquirer in the past seven years! There was little by way of positivity in the article - but then, some priests regrettably live in a world where they think they know what the people of God think - and quite regularly are way off the mark.

That said, it is great that there is a debate about vocations in Ireland. Hopefully, it will be a healthy and constructive one.

Upcoming Vocation Weekends

There are two vocation 'live-in' weekends being organised in the near future, both in the student house of the Irish Dominican Province - St. Saviour's Priory, Dorset Street, Dublin 1. The first weekend is to take place from the evening of Friday 25th until the afternoon of Sunday 27th January 2008 and the second from Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th February 2008. These 'live-in' weekends are designed to give potential candidates a flavour of the life and prayer of our formation community in Dublin, with an opportunity to learn more about our way of life. Further weekends are planned in March and April.

The timetable for the weekends will be as follows:


5.00 pm Arrival

6.00 pm Vespers

6.20 pm Supper

7.00 pm Introductions and Opening Talk

9.00 pm Prayer before Blessed Sacrament

9.30 pm Compline



o8.30 am Rise

09.40 am Morning Prayer

10.00 am Community Mass

11.00 am Discussion with Dominican Panel

12.40 pm Office of Readings and Midday Prayer

01.00 pm Lunch

02.00 pm Visit to Siena Monastery, Drogheda, Co. Louth

07.30 pm Return and Quiet time

09.00 pm Prayer

09.30 pm Community Social



08.00 am Rise

09.00 am Morning Prayer

09.30 am Meetings with Vocations Director

11.30 am Community Mass

12.40 pm Office of Readings and Midday Prayer

01.00 pm Lunch

02.00 pm Departures

Friday, January 11, 2008


One of the many questions I am asked as vocations director is 'What is an appropriate age to join the Order?' It is impossible to answer that question! I meet young people who are very mature, and older people who are immature - and vice versa! Many Dominican provinces throughout the world have an upper age limit policy - and are quite strict about it. The Irish Dominican province does not have an upper age limit. And rightly too, in my opinion. I am much more interested in any potential candidate's relationship with God and that person's motivation to join the Order, rather than their age.With this in mind, I was heartened to read recently an article on the Catholic Ireland website quoting Christopher Dillon, the Abbot of Glenstal (Benedictine), that he was viewed with some suspicion when he joined the Benedictines having gone to university and done postgraduate studies. He was a late vocation! He goes on to say that since he has been Abbot in the monastery that two grandfathers have joined and have become very valuable members of the community. You can see the full text of that article here.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Diaconate Ordinations

The new year began with the joyful celebration of the ordination to the order of deacons of three student brothers of the Irish Dominican province - Brothers Fergus Ryan (Cork), Declan Corish (Wexford) and David Rocks (Newry). The rite of ordination to the diaconate took place at the priory church of Saint Saviour, Dominick Street, Dublin on Saturday 5th January - the eve of the Epiphany. The ordaining prelate was Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin. In his homily, Archbishop Martin said to the three men being ordained, 'your ministry as Deacons will take place in the concrete world, the concrete historical context and culture in which you live. Your different personalities, the experience of your life paths, and your intellectual and spiritual formation have helped to build in each of you a strong faith capable of dialogue with the concrete realities and aspirations of the women and men of your generation.
The path of discipleship of Jesus Christ will always be a path of incarnation and not one of flight from the realities which surround us. But you can never simply totally identify itself with the realities of the culture of any particular time. You must always be otherworldly. You must also distance yourselves from the contemporary world; you must find for yourselves and bring to others discernment about the realities of our time and constantly purify yourselves as you inevitably become entangled in realities which are not fully those of the kingdom'. I hope and pray that our brothers will respond to the challenge presented to them. Please pray for them and their ministry.

Happy New Year

Apologies to regular readers of this blog for the lack of posting over the festive season. It is my fervent hope that the year ahead will be a graced one for all those involved in the promotion of vocations - but particularly for those who are discerning where the Lord is calling them. The greatest joy for any vocations director is when a candidate begins to understand where God is in their lives, and begins to act on that encounter. My thoughts too are with the brethren of the Irish Dominican province - especially those who encourage, support and pray for vocations to our way of life. And to you, of course, who come across this blog during 2008, may the Lord bless you in abundance and may the year ahead be a happy one for you.