Friday, January 28, 2011

Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas

I would like to wish all readers of this blog a very happy feastday as we celebrate Saint Thomas Aquinas, doctor of the church, eminent philosopher and theologian and Dominican friar. As study is such an integral part of the Dominican vocation, and we Dominicans draw so heavily on the thought of Saint Thomas for preaching and teaching, today is the most appropriate day to reflect on the life of the Angelic Doctor. There are some events that the Irish Dominicans have organised to celebrate the feast this year. Yesterday and today, the assistant to the Master of the Order for Northwest Europe and Canada, fr Allan White OP, spent time with the formation community at Saint Saviour's, Dublin. Yesterday evening he gave a presentation to the community of Saint Saviour's on the role of study in the Dominican Order and spoke on the topic "The Humble Intelligence of the Heart". Today, he presided and preached at the special solemn eucharist in honour of Saint Thomas. We are very grateful for his presence. Below is the video of his talk mentioned above.

Also to mark the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Dominican archbishop, Augustine diNoia OP, who is the secretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments preached a homily during Mass at the crypt church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on Saint Thomas. It is very well worth viewing. Thanks to the friars of the Saint Joseph Province, USA, for providing the link to the homily below.

CUA DiNoia aquinas from Province of Saint Joseph on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Irish Lay Dominicans receive new members

Left to right: Geraldine Flanagan (president of lay Dominicans in Ireland), Sheena Darcy, Monica Rapenau and Jacinta O' Donnell (president of lay Dominican chapter, Athy)
Sheena Darcy and Monica Rapenau were officially received as new members of the Lay Dominicans in Ireland during the celebration of the Eucharist at Saint Saviour's priory, Dublin this evening - the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul (January 25th). The main celebrant of the Mass was fr. Gregory Carroll OP, prior of Saint Saviour's. Sheena and Monica were joined by friends, colleagues, members of the lay Dominicans and a number of the friars of the community for the celebration.

Both women have completed a period of preparation before being received as Lay Dominicans. A further time of discernment and probation will follow before they make formal promises (or profession) as members of the Dominican laity in Ireland. Sheena, who has a background in human resources is currently one of the key administrators (as office manager) for the International Eucharistic Congress which will take place in Dublin next year. Monica, who is a theologian by profession, currently works with a publishing company.

The lay Dominican vocation is an integral part of the the vocation of the whole Dominican family. As lay men and women they are not living a form of consecrated life but form communities who live by the spirit and charism of Saint Dominic, and are incorporated into the Order by a special commitment according to statutes and laws of their own.

The reception and admission of both Sheena and Monica is a very important moment and witness for all Dominicans in Ireland- and  is testament to the renewal of interest in the Dominican charism during the past few years. Irish Dominican Vocations wishes Sheena and Monica every blessing as they set out in the Dominican way of life.

Left to right: Sheena Darcy, Fr Gregory Carroll OP and Monica Rapenau

Friday, January 21, 2011

First Vocations Weekend of 2011

Saint Mary's Priory, Pope's Quay, Cork.
The first of our vocation weekends for 2011 has just begun this evening in the novitiate community of the Irish Dominican province at Saint Mary's Priory, Cork. Vocation weekends offer those who are interested in the Dominican way of life a glimpse into the prayer, study, community and mission of the Order over a weekend or longer period. Please pray for our enquirers who are joining us this weekend. You might also like to know that there are scheduled vocation weekends in February and March. There are a limited number of places available. Please contact me at for further details.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cabra Dominicans receive new novice

Irish Dominican Vocations would like to congratulate the Cabra Dominican sisters who recently received Sabine Schratz (in the centre of the photograph above) into their novitiate in Tallaght. In what is a difficult climate for fostering and promoting vocations to female religious congregations in Ireland, the reception of Sabine is a very positive sign for the Dominican sisters in Ireland and indeed a hopeful moment for other female religious orders as well. For more information on the Cabra Dominican sisters, see their website

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Nashville Dominican Sisters and the Irish Question

The video above gives an insight into the lives of some of the 'Nashville' Dominican sisters, a teaching Order of Dominican women. The congregation has been attracting many vocations in recent years. There seems to be two reasons for this. Firstly, there is a very visible and clear mission that the sisters are involved in, namely education of the young and secondly, the community have a clear and visible identity which is concentrated on community life.

Every time I encounter the 'Nashville' Dominicans or other similar apostolic religious women, I can't help but ask the question how such a congregation has not yet taken hold in Ireland. In the course of vocations ministry, I come across many women who would dearly like to give themselves to following the Lord in a congregation like the Nashville Dominicans but can't find a suitable Order in Ireland to facilitate them. So, these are young, intelligent women with a deep desire to follow God but who do not wish to be contemplatives or monastic nor indeed do they wish to join apostolic religious orders who have lost their sense of identity or do not have a coherent or identifiable mission. Many ask me is there an order that somehow hold something of the contemplative and something of the active. This would have a certain attraction for them. I am not convinced that such an order or congreagation exists in Ireland - but if one were to emerge there are definite vocations available who would relish the opportunity to be part of this type of congregation.

Follow the Nashville Dominicans here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Powerful witness of religious community - 'Of Gods and Men'

Every once in a while a film is made that makes a profound impact on the viewing public. Such a film which is currently being screened in both Ireland and in the UK (though not in mainstream cinemas) is 'Of Gods and Men'. Directed by Xavier Beauvois, the film is concerned with the religious community of the monastery of Tibhirine, where Trappist monks lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population of Algeria, until seven of them were beheaded in a still unclear incident in 1996. The screenplay focuses on the time leading up to their death and the very human dilemma of the community as to whether they should remain living with their Muslim neighbours or leave altogether. In the end they decide to stay.

The film has many profound insights into the nature of religious life, particularly the humanity that goes to make up religious community and the ever present difficulty of decision making for the good of the community. What marks this film out as authentic is the strong emphasis on the spiritual - the focus of the lives of the monks is clearly portrayed as being the celebration of the liturgy - the prayer of the Church and the celebration of the Eucharist. All decisions emanate from there.

While it is fair to say that most religious communities won't in their lifetime have to make as dramatic a decision as the Trappists in this film, it is a reminder that some have in the past and no doubt others will be called to at some stage in the future. In a world that is often obsessed with glitz and glamour and the need to look anywhere but in the way of God, this film serves as a very bright light indeed. It shows the need for God, the need for authentic religious life and community and the profound witness value contained therein.

A must-see on the big screen and a must-have when it eventually finds its way onto DVD.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Three new deacons for Irish Dominicans

Newly ordained deacons (left to right) Maurice Colgan OP, Brian Doyle OP and Denis Murphy OP with Archbishop Martin of Dublin.

The Irish Dominicans Friars celebrated on Sunday 2nd January as three of their young brothers were ordained deacons by the Archbishop of Dublin (also primate of Ireland), Diarmuid Martin. 

Brothers Denis Murphy, Maurice Colgan and Brian Doyle were joined by parishioners, family, friends and Dominican confrères in St Saviour's Church, Dominick Street, Dublin for 11.30am conventual Mass.

They were ordained as deacons in preparation for priestly ordination in the near future. Between them, they have been studying for the priesthood in the Dominican Order in Dublin, Maynooth, Oxford and Fribourg (Switzerland) for several years.

Below are images taken during the celebration. If you are copying these images, please credit Irish Dominican Vocations blog.

The deacon sings the Gospel

Archbishop Martin preaches

Archbishop Martin preaching at the ambo

Br Denis promises obedience to his ordinary (the prior provincial)

Brother Maurice promises obedience.

Brother Brian promises obedience.

The three brothers about to be ordained lie prostrate before the altar, a sign of their total availabiliy to God's work.

Dominican Student brothers David McGovern and Stephen Hackett lead the singing of the Litany of the Saints while the three brothers to be ordained lie prostrate before the altar.

The archbishop lays his hands on the head of Br Denis - an ancient, biblical sign of passing on the power associated with a ministry.

The archbishop imposes his hands on the head of Br Maurice.

Archbishop Martin lays his hands on the head of Brother Brian.

The new deacons are clothed in the liturgical vestments of their Order: the stole worn only on the left shoulder and the dalmatic, a vestment matching that of the priest in colour but with sleeves and, traditionally, decorated with two vertical stripes and two horizontal stripes. Br Denis is vested by Fr Fergal MacEoinín, prior of the Dominican community, The Claddagh, Galway city. Br Maurice is clothed by a deacon of the diocese of Cork & Ross - Rev Anthony Buckley. Br Brian is clothed by his brother, Fr James Doyle, priest of the diocese of Ferns.

Br Denis receives the book of the Gospels: "Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach". It is the deacon's special care in the liturgy to proclaim the Gospel reading.

Brother Maurice receives the book of the Gospels from the archbishop.

Brother Brian, Receive the book of the Gospels...

The archbishop gives the sign of peace to newly ordained deacon, Br Denis.

Br Maurice receives the sign of peace.

Brother Brian receives the sign of peace from archbishop Martin.

Please keep our newly ordained deacons in your prayers.