Monday, July 30, 2012

There Are No Vocations!

When did you last see a picture (click to enlarge) such as the one above? It has been a long time I suspect! The sisters pictured above are Nashville Dominican sisters at a reception following their first profession of vows on July 28th last. You can get a real sense of the uncontained joy of these young women in the photograph. It certainly gives the lie to those who like to shout out loud that 'there are no vocations'!

Some of these Nashville sisters were in Ireland recently and spoke to various groups about their life, ministry and work. The conviction and enthusiasm of their presentations was infectious. It was clear to all who met them that these sisters had a very clear message about their identity, their form of religious life and the ministry that they are involved in. While it is almost impossible to copy or replicate what some religious orders in the United States do to promote vocations - there is no valid reason why religious orders in Ireland can't make a more concerted effort to make their identity known in a practical and meaningful way.

Religious orders of men and women in Ireland have made significant contributions down through the centuries - and continue to do so. Why are we afraid to tell the world about that? Why are we so shy about sharing our joy and enthusiasm for our form of life? Why is it that the only time you will hear a sermon in your local church about vocations will be on the fourth Sunday of Easter (Vocations Sunday) - that's if you hear one at all? Why have the bulk of the religious orders blended in with the rest of society to the point of invisibility? Why have some of the orders taken the decision not to recruit new members in the future?

A lack of urgent response to these questions will almost certainly allow others to declare and shout aloud:  'There are no vocations!'

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Intellectual Life and the Dominican Vocation

Swiss Dominican friar fr Gilles Emery OP gives an excellent presentation on the intellectual life and the Dominican vocation. The talk was given at the Lumen Christi Institute in Chicago, USA. It will be of interest to those who ask questions about the place of study in the Dominican tradition - and who enquire about the importance of the intellectual life to Dominicans.

The constitutions of the Dominican friars remind us that "Saint Dominic in founding the Order was truly innovative: he intimately linked study to the ministry of salvation. He himself always carried around with him St Matthew's gospel and Saint Paul's letters. He directed the brothers to the schools, and sent them 'to study, preach and establish convents in larger cities. It follows that 'our study should principally and zealously be directed to this, that we may be of help to the souls of our neighbours.'"

This video first appeared on the Lumen Christi Institute website 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

'We Need Priests!' - Archbishop of Dublin

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School today, Dublin's Catholic archbishop, Dr Diarmuid Martin spoke about vocations and the need for priests as part of a wide-ranging talk on the future of the Catholic church in Ireland. Regarding the topic he said:

One of the first great challenges that the Church in Ireland has to face is the challenge of vocations to the priesthood.  Why is it that the numbers entering the seminaries are so low?  Is the Church reaching out in the right direction?  It is not my intention to enter into discussions here about the ordination of women or the introduction of married clergy. I am talking about the challenges that we face in the realities of the real life of the Church as it is today.  We have now married deacons; we have committed, qualified and dedicated lay men and women in various pastoral and administrative services. In new structures of parish groupings, teams of priests, deacons and lay men and women will be working together to provide pastoral care within a wider area, each in accordance with their own calling.  But we need priests.
It is not just that the number of candidates is low; it is also that many of those who present are fragile and some are much more traditional than those who went before them.  I have no problem with priests or seminarians who come from a solid theologically-based traditional faith background.  If anything, I would have greater anxieties regarding priests or candidates who simply go with the trends of the day and who lack a real spiritual and theological anchor.  There is however a danger that superficial attachment to the externals of tradition may well be a sign of fearfulness and flight from changed realities: and that is not exactly what we need.
We came in Ireland from a very traditional Church and indeed there are many signs that the traditional rigid Church of more recent times that some look back to with approval may not have been what it appeared.
It is a rarity for a Catholic bishop in Ireland to speak about 'priestly vocations' so this contribution is very welcome. I hope that it might encourage others to speak on the same theme on a more regular basis. 
However, I find if difficult to agree with Archbishop Martin on his analysis of the profile of candidates presenting themselves for consideration at the moment. My experience as a vocations director for the past decade or more demonstrates that the vast majority of men that I encounter are highly qualified, spiritually mature, strongly motivated, have a deep desire for strengthening their relationship with Jesus Christ, desire to be of service to God's people, are theologically literate and have no real desire to yearn for the past. 
What marks out this new generation of candidates is this: they have not been tarnished with the mistakes of the past. Almost all candidates have been born into an Irish church that has been  permanently in crisis. They want to give of themselves in a new and radical fashion for the building up of the kingdom of God in our time and to make amends for what has gone wrong in the past. Confining the analysis of candidates from 'fragile' to 'traditional' is to miss the point. Encouraging men who present themselves with their potential vocation should be of paramount importance. It is regrettable that there seems to be a growing desire in the Irish church to have 'perfect' candidates presenting themselves for priesthood (or male religious life). The reality is that they do not exist.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Summer of Ordinations

Irish Dominican Vocations would like to send warm congratulations and best wishes to those men who were ordained to the priesthood during the summer months for various dioceses in Ireland. Most of those ordained are known to the Dominican friars and  we share their joy. The large number of ordinations is certainly a boost to those involved in vocations ministry throughout the country and a sign of hope for the church in Ireland. May the courage and example of these men sow seeds in the hearts of others in following the call of the Lord.

Newly ordained priests for the archdiocese of Tuam - Fr Shane Sullivan and Fr Eugene O Boyle
Fr Paul Ludden was ordained for the Archdiocese of Dublin
Fr Thomas McHugh and Fr Ryan McAleer were ordained for the Archdiocese of Armagh
Fr Conor McGrath was ordained for the diocese of Down and Connor
Fr Patrick Lagan was ordained priest for the diocese of Derry
Fr Damien Lynch was ordained for the diocese of Cloyne
Fr Sean Maguire ordained for the diocese of Kilmore
Fr Pat Duffy and Fr James Cullen ordained for the diocese of Ferns

Friday, July 20, 2012

Irish Dominicans to receive novices in September

Following the recent interviews for admission to the novitiate of the Irish Dominican friars, we are happy to announce that the province have decided to accept a new group of men who will begin their novitiate in September.

Many will ask who these men are and where they come from. The Irish Dominicans have a policy of not revealing details about our new novices each year until their novitiate has formally begun.

The men who have been accepted were invited to present themselves at the St Mary's, Pope's Quay, Cork city, in early September, to begin the week of spiritual retreat that precedes the novitiate year.

These interviews mark the conclusion of an exhaustive process of discernment, accompaniment and application to novitiate for these men.

They join the current group of twenty men in initial formation as Dominican friars.

Please continue to pray for vocations to the Dominican Order and for those in formation in our province.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Interviews for Admission to Novitiate 2012

The process of interviewing candidates for admission to the novitiate of the Dominican friars of the Irish province has begun - with preliminary assessments having already taken place. Formal interviews by the specially constituted board of friars and others will take place beginning the weekend of the July 13th.

Those successful applicants after the interview process will begin the novitiate year on September 14th next. Please keep the candidates presenting themselves for acceptance to the novitiate, along with those charged with making decisions about their suitabilty, in your prayers.