Sunday, March 25, 2012

New international website for Dominican friars

The international website of the Dominican Order has been overhauled and relaunched. It is available in the three official languages of the Order - English, French and Spanish. The site was overhauled following the appointment of a newly appointed promoter general for social communication - fr Eric Salboir OP (province of France). The new website carries news from Dominican provinces around the world.

The website is a good resource for those wanting to know more about the life and work of Dominicans throughout the world. You can visit the website at

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A note on the Dominican vocation from the USA

This blog entry comes as I conclude conducting a Lenten retreat in a Dominican parish in New York. The Dominican community who run the parish are members of the Saint Joseph province in the United States. This province is very well known throughout the world in recent years for its tremendous ability to attract vocations. The consistent influx of new vocations to the province is very heartening indeed. There is a particularly good analysis by Dominican archbishop di Noia OP on the Saint Joseph province website as to the reasons as to why this province is receiving new membership in such numbers. It is well worth reading.

At a meeting with young people in the parish during the retreat here I was asked, 'what makes the Dominican vocation so unique?'. I tried to answer in this way: As Saint Dominic and all the Dominican saints have shown by their lives, in an authentic Dominican vocation there is no room for selfishness or a vision of Dominican life that looks inwardly at the internal workings of our life - rendering us unable to see beyond ourselves. Our vocation to a life of contemplation, by its very nature, reaches out to others who will benefit from our charism and witness to the power of God's grace, which is still very much at work in the world today. This is the way that our life is structured: receiving from the depth of contemplation in order to give to others the fruits of that contemplation. We do not choose those to whom we minister; God does. We just have to be open in contemplation to realise, like Saint Dominic's engagement with the Albigensians, that this call to ministry and evangelisation is most likely to the unexpected and the marginalised.

So, clearly Dominican life is not a treasure to be kept buried in order to keep it hidden and safe. It is a treasure for which we sell all that we have  so that we may receive our vocation more fully. The only way that we can hold on to the richness of such a treasure is not to hoard it but to give it away. Indeed, it is such a treasure, given not only to us and for us, but given by God to his Church, so that the people of God may know that the kingdom of God is at hand.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Vocations: We are failing to listen - Pope Benedict

Traditionally the Holy Father meets with the clergy of Rome at the beginning of Lent. This year he explored the nature of call in his address to them. I was very taken by the powerful reflection he shared with them. Here are some of the quotes from his speech. They deserve to be reflected on by those considering a vocation and especially those involved in vocations ministry.

".....I would say that our first important call is Baptism, to be with Christ; the second important call is to be pastors in his service and we must listen ever more intently to this call so as to be able to call, or better to help others too so that they may hear the voice of the Lord who calls. A cause of great suffering in the Church today in Europe and in the West is the lack of (priestly) vocations, but the Lord always calls; it is the listening that is lacking. We have heard his voice and must always pay attention to the Lord's voice on behalf of others, we must help make his call heard and thus ensure that is accepted and that a path is opened to the vocation to be pastors with Christ."

....Saint Paul goes back to this word 'call'....and speaks of a vocation , a call that is to hope. In this way, he demonstrates the dimensions of the call: it is not only individual, the call is already a dialogical phenomenon , a phenomenon in the 'we'; in the 'you and I' and in the 'us' - called to the one hope. In this way we see the dimensions of the call; they are three.

....A call ultimately is where God is the the end we arrive simply in God and the whole of our journey is a journey towards God. However, this journey is never isolated, it is never a journey towards the 'I', but it is a journey towards the future, toward a renewal of the whole world, and a journey in the 'we' of those called who call others, who enable them to hear this call. Therefore the call is always also a vocation in the Church,'

Friday, March 9, 2012

Eucharistic adoration and vocations

Preaching a parish retreat in Ardmore parish in the diocese of Derry this past week has prompted some reflections on the link between eucharistic adoration and vocations. During the retreat the parish has prayed each day in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament from morning until evening. There is a sense of a new appreciation of eucharistic adoration and the necessity to prayer for vocations.

There are important reasons for the link between prayer for vocations and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Firstly, and most importantly, eucharistc adoration in parishes and religious houses should as a matter of course pray for vocations. Secondly, only a church that is constantly 'in love' with the blessed Eucharist will attract and generate vocations. Thirdly, religious formation depends so much on drawing close to Jesus himself and the act of visiting Him. Fouthly, of course, is the strong connection between the Eucharist and the priesthood.

There are numerous examples of evidence that eucharistic adoration has proved to be a decisive factor in attracting vocations around the world. It should be said that there is a simple reason for this - namely that it is the 'vocations strategy' of the Lord himself when he asked his followers to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.

Adoring the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is especially effective because it draws attention in a unique way to the great gift that makes the priesthood and religious life so extraordinary and so needed - without the priesthood, of course, we would not have God's real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Silent Eucharistic Adoration naturally poses the question 'What do you want to do with me, Lord?' - it is a hope of mine that those considering a vocation will use time before the Lord to answer this question.

I have been very heartened by the prayerful way that the people of this parish in Derry have used the time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for vocations - it is their prayer that is in large measure responsible for the vocations that the Church has.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dominican Family Vocations Day - Information Update

The Dominican family vocations day which takes place on Saturday, March 24th in Saint Saviour's Dominican priory in Dorset street (see previous post) is attracting a great deal of attention - which is great news for us!

In order to facilitate enquirers who would like to participate in the day, we would like to give you some further contact details of the vocation promoters of the Dominican family in Ireland who are responsible for the event. They are as follows:

Dominican Friars: Fr Gerard Dunne OP -
Dominican Sisters: Sr Kathleen Fitzsimons OP -
Dominican Nuns: Sr Mairead Mullen OP -
Lay Dominicans: