Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ordination of seven deacons a sign of hope for Irish Catholic church

In a time of great uncertainty around vocations in Ireland, the ordination to the diaconate of seven men on Sunday last in the National Seminary in Maynooth is a sign of hope. The seven (six of whom are pictured above) were ordained by the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin. They come from six dioceses around Ireland (Ferns, Meath, Tuam, Armagh, Kilmore and Dublin) and one from the Irish Redemptorist Province. A further six men were ordained deacons in the Irish College in Rome at Easter time.

Having these thirteen men prepare for priesthood in the next number of months will certainly give optimism and hope to others who might feel called to religious life and priesthood. This number, however, masks an underlying worrying trend in vocation numbers in Ireland. In a number of weeks we will become aware of the numbers who will begin seminary training and formation for the dioceses of Ireland and for religious congregations. It now looks likely that the numbers will be down again - for a second year in a row. While it is impossible to draw conclusions from statistics over such a short period, it should really focus the mind once again of those charged with promoting vocations in Ireland to immediately look seriously at their vocations strategies. Clearly, there is much work to be done because the strategies employed are not working very well and in some cases not at all.

It seems clear to me that there is a case to be made for all the interested parties concered with promoting vocations in Ireland (religious and diocesan) to come together and discuss planning for the future. It does not require a further 'Year of Vocation', but a planned, strategic and professional response to trends now becoming clearer.

See the full text of Archbishop Martin's homily at the diaconate ordinations here. A good analysis of the homily and the ceremony by journalist Sarah McDonald appears on the cinews website here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vocations Ireland launch 'ExploreAway'.

Any new initiative (especially in Ireland) that sets out to help people discern their call towards a religious vocation is to be heartily welcomed. So I am delighted to hear of the new project of Vocations Ireland who have launched a new programme which offers an opportunity to men and women aged between 21 and 40 years to explore religious life in a prayerful and reflective environment over a number of residential weekends throughout the year. Entitled 'exploreAway' the programme envisages that those considering the vocation of a sister, brother, priest, nun or monk would spend some time in quality discernment with the assistance of trained professionals in the field. The project has a website that is simple, helpful and clear and can be accessed here.

This new initiative is based loosely on the 'Compass' programme, based in the UK and which has been quite successful in attracting candidates to various forms of priesthood and religious life over the past number of years.

This new project deserves our prayerful support, and hopefully this venture will enourage all the various religious orders in Ireland to redouble their efforts at vocation promotion and discernment.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Glimpses of Dominicans from around the world...

Below are some images of Dominican provinces around the world, promoting the life and vocation of the Dominican friars in that region or country. These videos will give you a glimpse of the universality of the Dominican Order.

Firstly, a video clip made by the Argentinian Dominican friars:

The next video below shows the new Dominican pastor of St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in St. Petersburg, the oldest Catholic parish in the city, celebrating the Easter Vigil and singing the exultet in Russian. The parish was founded in 1783, closed in 1938, and reopened only in 1992. The new pastor, Father Hyacinthe Destivelle, O.P., named after Blessed Hyacinthe Cormier, O.P., is a French Dominican and an expert in Orthodox theology.

The friars of the Saint Joseph province of Dominicans in the United States celebrate the feast of the translation of the relics of Saint Dominic in this extract below:

An unusual video from the Croatian Dominican friars!:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Irish Dominican friars to launch new 'prayer for vocations' initiative.

Irish Dominican Vocations is happy to announce a new prayer initiative which will be launched during the summer. Having commissioned an icon of Saint Dominic (pictured above) some time back, it is now complete and will provide the focus for this new prayer effort. The hope is to bring the icon to all the various churches and centres that that the Dominican friars have in Ireland for approximately a month at a time, inviting those who attend to set aside a period of time to pray specifically for Dominican vocations. It will also get our supporters and those attending our churches to think of praying regularly for vocations to the Order.

New prayer cards for vocations and posters will be available in the various locations as a help and guide for those involved in this new prayer initiative.

Irish Dominican Vocations is deeply indebted to the Redemptoristine nuns in Drumcondra, Dublin who accepted the commissioning of the icon and also to renowned iconographer Mihai Cucu.

Through the intercession of Saint Dominic, may this new initiative bear fruit.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Irish Dominican contemplative nun speaks about her vocation

Sr Mary Teresa Dunphy OP is a member of the community of the contemplative Dominican nuns in Drogheda, Co. Louth. She is preparing to make her solemn (perptual) profession next month (June 29th, 2011). In this video, she speaks about her vocation story, with a particular emphasis on discernment. In listening to her reasons for wanting to join the Domincan nuns, you will note that there is a universality about the vocational call, while everyone has a very different story to tell as to how they get there in the end. This talk was given as part of the annual Dominican family vocations day held in March of this year.

For more information on the Dominican contemplative nuns, please visit their website www.dominicannuns.ie or their blog www.dominicannunsireland.blogspot.com Irish Dominican Vocations asks you to remember Sr Teresa in your prayers as she continues her preparation for her solemn profession.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New vocations website for Irish Dominican friars - Vocations Sunday 2011

To coincide with Vocations Sunday 2011 and as part of our ongoing engagement with an internet presence, an (almost complete) dedicated vocations website has been launched for our province. DominicanFriars.ie is a traditional website with information about vocation and the Dominican Order, a collection of video and still images of important events of the province, with rolling news on the homepage to give browsers a live picture of what's happening or has been happening in our province. We will develop the website further in the near future adding history pages, more still image and video galleries, connections to our social media presences and so on.

Visit the website http://www.dominicanfriars.ie/ and let us know what you think. Irish Dominican Vocations thanks all who were involved in the setting up of this new website, and hopes that it will attract many new enquirers who are interested in the vocation of the Dominican friars in Ireland.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lay Dominicans Ireland re-elect President at AGM

The annual general meeting of the Lay Dominicans in Ireland took place in Dublin this past weekend. During the meeting the delegates elected for a second term their outgoing president Geraldine Flanagan. Geraldine is a teacher by profession and has been a member of the Lay Dominicans for some years. During her first term as President, there has been growth in the number of enquiries about the vocation of the Dominican laity, and as evidenced by the number of new members at the AGM, there has also been significant growth. There are a number of chapters of Lay Dominicans throughout Ireland. Please refer to their website above for locations if you are interested.

Irish Dominican Vocations would like to congratulate Geraldine (pictured above) on her re-election, along with the new members of the Provincial Council. Geraldine has been a driving force behind the many instances of collaboration between the members of the Dominican family in Ireland and we look forward to strengthening that relationship into the future.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Vocations Sunday 2011 - Irish Bishop Donal McKeown speaks on vocations

As Vocations Sunday approaches, the chair of the council for vocations of the Irish Episcopal Confernce, Donal McKeown answers some questions on the state of vocations in Ireland in the video above. Bishop McKeown is one of the auxiliary bishops of the Catholic diocese of Down and Connor.

This video is welcome as part of the contribution of the Irish bishops to Vocations Sunday. How much more welcome would be a commitment from the Episcopal conference in Ireland to highlight the vocation of priesthood and religious life on a far more regular basis. It is a rarity to hear any bishop in Ireland speak about vocations outside of this weekend - and indeed any comments that are made tend to create a negative attitude toward priesthood and religious life. It seems that in Ireland there is an inability to promote the priestly or religious vocation without making reference to clustering of parishes, permanent diaconate, pastoral workers and other issues - important and all as they may be.

It is no surprise then that people, and especially young people who may have an interest in priesthood or religious life are confused. For many of them, the message they receive is that other forms of vocation are as important or indeed more important than the call to serve the Lord as a religious or priest. Why are we afraid to promote this calling? If there continues to be a dilution of the sacred call of the Lord to men and women to follow him in a vowed life or as service as a priest, then we can expect fewer and fewer vocations.

Experience, anecdotally and otherwise, from various parts of the world shows that those bishops and religious superiors who go out of their way to actively promote the vocation to priesthood and religious life are far more successful in encouraging and receiving such vocations than those who do not. We are doing a great disservice to the Church by not being proactive in our promotional efforts.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

'The Rosary Priest of Ireland'...Dominican friar Gabriel Harty OP

A recent blog entry by the excellent Dominican history blog featured Irish Dominican fr. Gabriel Harty OP. The blog entry can be seen here. Fr Gabriel is an inspiration to many of us as we try to live out our Dominican vocations, and he is still blogging away as he approaches his 90th birthday. His newly revamped blog can be found here. It's a great read, so stop by and take a look. I know fr. Gabriel would appreciate it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Vatican Blogger Conference - Video

A video piece from yesterday's conference for bloggers. Can you spot Irish Dominican Vocations?

Polish Dominicans make Solemn Profession - the Irish connection

The Polish province of Dominican friars have consistently been receiving many vocations for some years. That province has many strong links with the Irish Dominican province and now many Polish Dominicans are assigned to various ministries in Ireland. Over the past number of years, Polish Dominican students have been coming to Ireland, to our studentate at Saint Saviour's in Dublin to undertake theological studies. It has been a mutually beneficial experience for both of our provinces.

So, it is with great joy that Irish Dominican Vocations has learned of the final or solemn profession of thirteen Dominican friars of the Polish province some days ago. Three of the thirteen brothers spent a year with us, and we delight in the news of their profession.

See the Polish Dominican website at http://www.dominikanie.pl/

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vatican Blog Meeting - Final Update

For another view on today's meeting, please take a look at what the Catholic News Agency has to say here.

The final contributors to this blogger conference have been concerned with the various media and social network outlets that the Holy See has. The Vatican is trying to bring all these outlets under one umbrella which is hoped to have the domain name news.va The meeting has really run out of steam now, dealing with more technical issues and I suspect that the bloggers gathered will feel a little shortchanged.

Still, this poor ending should not cloud the great energy and enthusiasm generated by this first meeting of Catholic bloggers. We are assured that this is the first attempt in the Holy See reaching out to the Catholic blogger community in the future. Please God, it is the start of something new and exciting.

Vatican Blog Meeting - Live Update (3)

The second session of the Vatican blogger conference is opened by Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ and speaks of the objectives of this blogger meeting , namely: the dialogue between faith and emerging cultures. The blogger community are called to the meeting so that 'the Vatican' can listen and indeed learn.

Fr Federico Lombardi SJ addresses the meeting. He is well known internationally as the director of the Holy See press office. He notes that he does not use blogs himself but is surprised by the energy generated by the Catholic blogging community. He says that the mission of the Vatican is to open up to a dailogue to all those who want to open up to communication. He speaks of Pope Benedict and says the Holy Father understands well what is happening in the blogging world and wants to encourage this. The Holy Father is open minded to all forms of communication.

Fr Lombardi says bloggers are important for the church, and that the church should have a public opinion - a dialogue between faith and the world. Blogs can particiapte in this new dimension or reality. A second observation relates to connectivity - the Vatican getting its message from the core outwards without having any real feedback. Blogs can contribute to a greater dialogue. Thirdly, the question of monitoring. He notes that the Holy See interacts with bloggers by keeping up to date with news, trends and events and monitors blogs regularly. Fr Federico thanked bloggers for helping clarify the Church's message, especially when the truth is sometimes misconstrued. (By the way, some of the participants at the meeting, by means of twitter, disagree with Fr Lombardi, saying that the church has missed the point of 'social' communication.)

There will be one further and final update.

Vatican Blog Meeting - Live Update (2)

The first break of the Vatican blogger meeting affords an opportunity to reflect on the purpose of the meeting. Clearly, the bloggers gathered are highly motivated, and offer reflections on topics which are sometimes missed by mainstream Catholic media. All the contributors are at pains to point out that it is not the purpose of Catholic bloggers to overtake mainstream media but to enhance it. It is being brought to our attention that the primary objective of Catholic bloggers is to make the Gospel more widely available.

Some anecdotes in the questions to the panel:
'It's interesting how Catholic bloggers are often now the first port of call for information in the Catholic world!'

'We Catholic bloggers need to be careful not to be pushing our own agendas to the detriment of the Gospel!'

'Even 12 year olds are blogging.....why shouldn't we?'

Vatican Blog Meeting - Live Update (1)

This post is updated live from the Pontifical Council for Communication's meeting held in Rome today, Monday May 2nd, 2011.

An occasion to establish respectful dialogue between blogging community and a deep acknowledgement of the great contribution of Catholic bloggers are counted among the initiatives and the reasons for this meeting organised by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for Communications. It is not a publicity stunt on behalf of the Church but an engagement with the blogging community - nor is it a stage to set up a moral code for bloggers, but a simple meeting to put blogging in its right place of sharing ideas and information.

Moderating the first panel is Rocco Palmo - reminded the participants that we start blogs because we believe - and that among the blogging community are some great communicators. Bloggers and particularly Catholic bloggers create a community engagging  particularly with our readers. With tongue in cheek he said that this meeting, the first of its kind is something only the Holy See could do - to strengthen our faith and the faith of our readers!

Five bloggers share their experience of blogging - with one recuuring theme, namely that the Church use all available social networking tools available to them to help with the spread of the Gospel.