Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vocation of the Dominican brother

American Dominican cooperator brother Joseph Trout OP of the Saint Albert the Great province in the United States is attending the General Chapter of the Order in Trogir, Croatia. In this brief video clip he speaks about his vocation as a brother in the Order.

Over the years, the Irish Dominican province has been blessed with vocations to the cooperator brotherhood. Sadly, there are fewer men offering themselves as brothers in the province now. The witness of our brothers has inspired many men to join our province - and we are more than willing and happy to engage with anyone who feels called to be a cooperator brother in the order in Ireland.

Feel free to get in touch with the vocations director about the life, work and minsistry of the brothers at

Monday, July 29, 2013

Joy as Redemptoristine nun makes solemn profession in Dublin

Sr Monica Boggan OsSR with Fr Gerard Dunne OP after the solemn profession ceremony

The Redemptoristine nuns in Drumcondra in Dublin are going from strength to strength. On Saturday last, the community celebrated the solemn (perpetual) profession of one of their sisters - Sr Monica Boggan OsSR. Originally ftom County Meath, Sr Monica has completed three years of simple profession as a Redemptoristine nun. The nuns are well known for their work of providing altar breads for the churches and parishes of the Dublin region and beyond. While this is a 'work' of the community, the primary purpose of the nuns is to devote themselves to the Lord through prayer and monastic observance.

Readers of this blog will know of the high esteem in which I hold these sisters - and I continue to ask other congregations of religious contemplatives to keep an eye on the vocations strategy emplyed by this vibrant community. It is worth copying.

Sr Monica's solemn profession is the third perpetual profession for the Redemptoristines in the past few years. May Sr Monica and her community continue to flourish.

Blog reader makes first profession with Nashvile Dominican Sisters

Sr Caitriona on the day of her habit reception

An Irish woman from County Wexford has made profession with the Nashville Dominican sisters. Originally known as Clare Kavanagh and now Sr Caitriona (her religious name) she has completed her novitiate with the Tennessee based sisters.

Irish Dominican Vocations wishes to warmly congratulae Sr Caitriona on the occasion of this happy event, and there is a second reason to do so. It was through reading this story on this blog that caused Clare to give consideration to joining the sisters.

That blog entry in 2011 posed the question about the need for a female religious congregation in Ireland that would attract women (and there are many) who do not necessarily wish to live the contemplative life or apostolic religious life as it is lived in Ireland today. That need still remains. Hopefully, a corageous congregation will offer themselves to the Irish church and that the relevant authorities will be open to that possibility.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vocation story of a young Dominican nun

Sr Mary Cathy Howard OP (pictured above) is the most recently professed member of the Dominican contemplative nuns at Siena monastery in Drogheda, Co. Louth. In a recent blog entry she recounts her vocational journey - which I am sure readers will find inspiring. It is reproduced here in full. For more on the Dominican contemplative nuns in Ireland, please visit and

My name is Cathy Howard. I am 32 years old and I come from Finglas, Dublin. Both my parents are living and I have four brothers, two sisters and nine nieces and nephews. I entered the Monastery of St. Catherine of Siena in Drogheda, County Louth, in April 2010. I spent nine months as a Postulant, two years as a Novice, and made my First Profession on the 2nd February 2013.

I did not really know anything about God or the Church until I got involved with the Legion of Mary in 2004. A member of the Legion working in the Regina Caeli Hostel, encouraged me to go to Confession – the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and so I did. This was the first time I had gone to Confession since my First Holy Communion. I spent two hours with the priest and it was during this Confession that I experienced God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. For the first time in my life I felt free and alive. This was the beginning of a new journey for me. I was to spend many more hours in confession during my first years following my conversion. This sacrament continues to be a great source of healing for me.

I became a member of the Legion in 2005. Part of the Legion’s work is door to door visitation by two members. I found this work very challenging as I had very little knowledge of the teachings of the Church and found myself for the most part, to be the one praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit on my companion who spoke, and on the people whom he/she addressed. While doing this work I learned so much myself about the faith.

In the first years of my conversion, going to daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration were essential for me – I felt I could not live without them. It is even more so the case today. I attended many Youth 2000 retreats all over the country and also went for weekend or week long retreats to a retreat house in Scotland, called Craig Lodge. This retreat house is run by a married couple and there are 8-11 people, of my own age, living and working there as a community- looking after the retreatants who come there. What attracted me greatly to this retreat house was the fact that Morning, Evening and Night Prayer were sung daily and there was adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day. I felt attracted to joining this community and felt that there was where the Lord was drawing me. To join, it is necessary to do one or two years formation with them and I asked if I could come and stay for a week or two to see if it was for me. They agreed and I went the following December for two weeks but could only stay four days as I had to return home due to an urgent family situation. I went back many times after that but never joined them.

In the first year of my conversion the company I was working for, went into liquidation and it was some time before I got another job in a sweet factory in Finglas. In the work place I seemed to be the only one who had the faith and was not afraid to speak about it, but I felt very much out of place in that work situation, as if I did not fit in at all. It was the Lord alone Who kept me going in that job for two years. I used to begin to pray the rosary on the way to work as I walked to the bus, getting three decades said, and then continued the remaining decades on the bus itself. After that I took out my breviary and began to pray Morning Prayer. I used to get the funniest looks from the people sitting beside me but I did not care in the least. I knew this was the only thing that would get me through the day as work started at 7:30 am and I would have to wait until after work to go to Mass – which was great to look forward to. During this time my faith was growing and my relationship with the Lord becoming stronger and deeper. I spent most weekends away on retreat and during the week I would spend time each day in adoration.

Eventually the factory closed following a fatal accident and the idea of joining a community for a year or two came to my mind again - since I was out of work I thought it might be an opportune time. However, on the advice of a friend I took time to think and pray about the situation as he said that if I were to join a community for a year or two I would still have to return to Dublin with no job, flat, money etc. It was a real test for me to see how much trust I had in God’s providence – that he would look after these things for me.

I prayed about this and remember sitting in Adoration in the presence of the Lord and pouring out my heart to Him – saying that if it was His will that I put the formation year in Craig Lodge out of my mind, then, that He would help me find work with people who had faith and on the south side of Dublin as I could not bear working in Finglas again. ‘Not my will but Yours be done’ – I prayed.

Weeks or months after making that prayer – I can’t remember how long exactly, I received a phone call from a friend asking if I would be interested in working for a period of seven weeks, in a Carmelite Monastery, making altar breads and this monastery was on the south side of Dublin! If that is not an answer to prayer then I don’t know what is!

I accepted the job and really loved this work. I attended Mass with the sisters and prayed the Divine Office with them before I started work and then for my lunch break I would sit in prayer with the Lord in the chapel. After a while the sisters let me use their own little oratory where I could expose the Blessed Sacrament. Until I worked there, I never actually thought about where the altar breads came from even though the priest reads from the missal everyday at Mass ‘….. Through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life’. I really could not believe that I was making altar breads knowing that the bread was going to be changed into the living and true flesh of Jesus Christ. This blew me away.

The seven weeks turned into eleven or twelve weeks and when it was time to leave my heart was breaking. One day the Prioress took me by surprise and asked me to stay behind after work as she wanted to talk to me. She asked me if I ever thought of Religious Life? “No way, I said. I was not humble enough”. She laughed and said that none of us are. I must have mentioned that I was interested in joining a community for a year’s formation but never thought of Religious Life, especially the enclosed type. She said that I had the capability for it and that I was very balanced. I really could not believe this was happening and I remember going home very excited that day. I spoke to my spiritual director and he was very encouraging.

Working for, and praying with that Carmelite Community was very important on my faith journey and I am very grateful for that period of my life. At this stage I also started looking at other communities and I thought about a fraternity, the Fraternity of Mary Immaculate Queen, whose members had become good friends of mine. We set a date for a month’s live-in/trial with them but something happened at the last minute and I was unable to do it.

When I first came back to the Church I used to come to the Dominican Church (St. Saviour’s Community, Upper Dorset St., Dublin 1) in Dominick’s street, for Mass and Morning Prayer on my days off. I also attended the weekly Divine Mercy Holy Hour. I had a tremendous healing experience during a Novena to St. Martin in 2004 and since then I have had great devotion to him. I would never pass the church without going in to say a quick prayer and light a candle. Over the years I got to know the priests and students very well and you could almost say that I had became part of the furniture! I felt very much at home there. My heart was there.

I remember sweeping the floor at work one day and really feeling that the Lord was calling me to religious life. But where was the question? This conviction was very strong and I spoke about this to my spiritual director. As he pondered on my situation and knowing how attracted I was to Eucharistic Adoration – how it was my lifeline –it was then he told me about the Dominican Nuns in Drogheda- how they have Eucharistic Adoration all day, how they sing the Liturgy beautifully and pray the rosary daily. I had never heard of them before – it was only the friars that I knew from the Dominican Order. I was really taken by all of this and thought that this may be where the Lord was leading me to. They hold vocation weekends every couple of months and when I rang, the Novice Mistress said that there was a weekend coming up soon and that I was welcome to attend.

I was so nervous about going that my spiritual director drove me to the monastery and left me in the chapel. I remember feeling a beautiful Presence when walking in. After the weekend I knew that there was where the Lord wanted me to be. During the weekend, when talking to the young sisters I mentioned that I was not too keen on the study because I had missed out on some of my education, due to a medical childhood condition and family circumstances. One of them put my mind at rest when she said that if you are passionate about something or if you are in love with someone you want to know everything about that person and that it was the same for us with the Lord – we study for the sole purpose of growing in the knowledge and love of God and for no other reason.

My parents did not take the news of my entering too well, especially because of what the media was saying at the time. My Mam did say that as long as I was happy she would be happy but I knew she was hurting inside. However, my parents and most of my family have been very faithful in visiting me. The Lord said “Everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life”. ( Mt. 19:29). I now feel a new bond with
my family that was not there before and I am very grateful for it.

General Chapter of Dominican friars in Croatia

The General Chapter of the Dominican friars has begun in Trogir, Croatia. The video above shows the the Master of the Order, fr Bruno Cadore celebrate the opening Mass of the chapter. Please keep the work of the chapter and the Order in your prayers.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dominican General Chapter 2013

Readers of this blog are encouraged to pray for the success of the upcoming General Chapter of the Order.

The Dominican Order is holding a General Chapter at Trogir, Croatia, beginning 22nd July, the feast of St Mary Magdalene, patroness of the Order. 

The gathering of Dominican friars from all over the globe occurs every three years, but this particular chapter occurs only every nine years, consisting largely of elected delegates called diffinitors.

No superiors, other than the Master of the Order, will attend in an ex-officio capacity, yet the meeting has equal legislative authority with the other general chapters. It is not an elective chapter so it will not elect a new Master General of the Order whose term will continue for another six years.

Dubliner Fr Gerard Norton OP is the delegate from the Irish Dominican Province.

Fr Gerard is a scripture scholar, holding a doctorate from UCD and additional postgraduate qualifications from the Pontifical Biblical Commission and from the École biblique et archéologique française in Jerusalem ( He is at present the moderator of the Dominican Biblical Institute, Limerick, and an editor of the Biblia Hebraica Quinta, an authoritative Hebrew text of the Old Testament. 

The work of the General Chapter may be followed online at

To watch an introductory video, click below:


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Vocations prayer initiative in Galway

Dominicans and the icon of St Dominic - left to right: Fr Albert Leonard OP, Bro Conor McDonough OP and Fr Gerard Dunne OP

Our ongoing prayer initiative for Dominican vocations has reached Galway. Using the specially commissioned icon of Saint Dominic as a foucus of prayer for vocations, the vocations director had the opportunity to preach at all Masses in St. Mary's Dominican church, the Claddagh in Galway city this past weekend.

The initiative has been warmly received throughout the country - and particularly so in Galway. Many people commented on the use of the icon as a means of preaching on vocations, while others were very appreciative of the work of the friars in the Galway area. As always, the purpose of the prayer campaign is to broaden the base of the numbers of people praying for vocations to our Order. The Gospel passage from Saint Luke's gospel for this Sunday was very appropriate: 'Pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.'

The icon will remain in Galway until the end of August and will then move to another Dominican location soon thereafter.

Pope to Discerners and Seminarians: 'Always be men and women of prayer!'

Pope Francis has delivered the homily at Mass today with seminarians and novices gathered in St Peter's Basilica to mark the end of a four-day conference on vocation, discernment and formation here in Rome. Below, please find the English translation of the Holy Father's remarks:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting you, and today our joy is even greater, because we have gathered for the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day. You are seminarians, novices, young people on a vocational journey, from every part of the world. You represent the Church’s youth! If the Church is the Bride of Christ, you in a certain sense represent the moment of betrothal, the Spring of vocation, the season of discovery, assessment, formation. And it is a very beautiful season, in which foundations are laid for the future. Thank you for coming!

Today the word of God speaks to us of mission. Where does mission originate? The answer is simple: it originates from a call, the Lord’s call, and when he calls people, he does so with a view to sending them out. But how is the one sent out meant to live? What are the reference points of Christian mission? The readings we have heard suggest three: the joy of consolation, the Cross and prayer.
The first element: the joy of consolation. The prophet Isaiah is addressing a people that has been through a dark period of exile, a very difficult trial. But now the time of consolation has come for Jerusalem; sadness and fear must give way to joy: “Rejoice .. be glad ... rejoice with her in joy,” says the prophet (66:10). It is a great invitation to joy. Why? For what reason? Because the Lord is going to pour out over the Holy City and its inhabitants a “torrent” of consolation, of maternal tenderness: “You shall be carried upon her hip and dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (vv. 12-13). Every Christian, especially you and I, is called to be a bearer of this message of hope that gives serenity and joy: God’s consolation, his tenderness towards all. But if we first experience the joy of being consoled by him, of being loved by him, then we can bring that joy to others. This is important if our mission is to be fruitful: to feel God’s consolation and to pass it on to others! Isaiah’s invitation must resound in our hearts: “Comfort, comfort my people” (40:1) and it must lead to mission. People today certainly need words, but most of all they need us to bear witness to the mercy and tenderness of the Lord, which warms the heart, rekindles hope, and attracts people towards the good. What a joy it is to bring God’s consolation to others!

The second reference point of mission is the Cross of Christ. Saint Paul, writing to the Galatians, says: “Far be it from me to glory except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:14). And he speaks of the “marks of Jesus”, that is, the wounds of the crucified Lord, as a countersign, as the distinctive mark of his life as an Apostle of the Gospel. In his ministry Paul experienced suffering, weakness and defeat, but also joy and consolation. This is the Paschal mystery of Jesus: the mystery of death and resurrection. And it was precisely by letting himself be conformed to the death of Jesus that Saint Paul became a sharer in his resurrection, in his victory. In the hour of darkness and trial, the dawn of light and salvation is already present and operative. The Paschal mystery is the beating heart of the Church’s mission! And if we remain within this mystery, we are sheltered both from a worldly and triumphalistic view of mission and from the discouragement that can result from trials and failures. The fruitfulness of the Gospel proclamation is measured neither by success nor by failure according to the criteria of human evaluation, but by becoming conformed to the logic of the Cross of Jesus, which is the logic of stepping outside oneself and spending oneself, the logic of love. It is the Cross – the Cross that is always present with Christ – which guarantees the fruitfulness of our mission. And it is from the Cross, the supreme act of mercy and love, that we are reborn as a “new creation” (Gal 6:15).

Finally the third element: prayer. In the Gospel we heard: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, to send out labourers into his harvest” (Lk 10:2). The labourers for the harvest are not chosen through advertising campaigns or appeals for service and generosity, but they are “chosen” and “sent” by God. For this, prayer is important. The Church, as Benedict XVI has often reiterated, is not ours, but God’s; the field to be cultivated is his. The mission, then, is primarily about grace. And if the Apostle is born of prayer, he finds in prayer the light and strength for his action. Our mission ceases to bear fruit, indeed, it is extinguished the moment the link with its source, with the Lord, is interrupted.

Dear seminarians, dear novices, dear young people discerning your vocations: “evangelization is done on one’s knees”, as one of you said to me the other day. Always be men and women of prayer! Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and pressing duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord!Jesus sends his followers out with no “purse, no bag, no sandals” (Lk 10:4). The spread of the Gospel is not guaranteed either by the number of persons, or by the prestige of the institution, or by the quantity of available resources. What counts is to be permeated by the love of Christ, to let oneself be led by the Holy Spirit and to graft one’s own life onto the tree of life, which is the Lord’s Cross.

Dear friends, with great confidence I entrust you to the intercession of Mary Most Holy. She is the Mother who helps us to take life decisions freely and without fear. May she help you to bear witness to the joy of God’s consolation, to conform yourselves to the logic of love of the Cross, to grow in ever deeper union with the Lord. Then your lives will be rich and fruitful! Amen.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dominican Connect - July/August 2013 edition

The summer edition of Dominican Connect has a distinctly Italian feeling, with features on Dominicans and ecumenism and study.

Fr John M. Cunningham's courtesy visit to the Russian Orthodox parish in Rome is the main article in the double July-August issue.

Summer events are brought to the reader's attention as is the General Chapter of the Dominicans being held in July and August in Croatia.

Finally, student brother of the Irish Dominican province, Br Matthew Martinez OP, is the friar featured in this issue.

Click on this link to download an electronic copy of July-August 2013's Dominican Connect:

Redemptoristine nuns on Irish television

The Redemptoristine nuns based in Dublin's northside have been in the news recently. The video segment above was featured on Ireland's most popular television station RTE on the 'Morning Edition' programme. The clip gives an insight into their life, work and prayer. They are an enclosed contemplative order and have made huge strides in recent years in promoting their vocation as nuns - with a great deal of success. Many of us involved in the promotion of vocations could learn much from their vocations strategy.

Readers of this blog will know that the Redemptoristine nuns are regularly featured here - and for good reason. The nuns are passionate about their life and are unashamed to promote it. Continued blessings and success to them.

For more information see: