Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Year of Prayer for Vocations

I am delighted to hear of an initiative by the national director of vocations in Ireland, in conjunction with the religious and missionary vocations personnel, to have a year of prayer for vocations in Ireland. It is proposed to begin the year on Good Shepherd Sunday (the world day of prayer for vocations) 2008 and to conclude on the same Sunday in 2009 i.e. 13 April 2008 to 3 May 2009. The proposed year of prayer is to highlight vocation in all its forms during that year by having prayer and other events.

It is also hoped that the initiative will encourage those already in ministry; provide an opportunity for young adults, the general Catholic population, migrants and minority ethnic groups, the mass media and others to become involved at a deeper level. It is an aim to renew the sense of identity and direction of vocations and to also establish a new 'time' to encourage vocation to the priesthood, as well as returning Vocations Sunday to its rightful emphasis.

Some information about this initiative is posted on the website for diocesan vocations directors and I thank the national director Fr. Paddy Rushe for drawing it to my attention. The proposed year of prayer is awaiting approval from the next meeting of Irish bishops.

This proposed year of prayer, when approved, will be an exciting time and I am encouraged by the prospects and possibilities that it holds. May the time of prayer be a fruitful one. I will keep readers posted as I get more information.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rambling Thoughts

I was at a meeting recently of vocations directors. We were reflecting on how we were doing. Some were feeling a bit dejected because there was no interest being shown in their order or congregation. Others were desperate and wondering what the future holds if there are no vocations. Some others again were content to sit back and trust in God's providence. And then, to my horror, one or two vocations directors noted that it was probably inevitable that their congregations/orders would die out and that that was fine with them - and God!!And it is at the latter brother vocations directors that I despair! How terribly sad. No concept of the desire of their founders. No understanding that God called members of their congregations to build up God's kingdom in a particular place and time. No appreciation of the labours of the vast amounts of good religious who gave their all to promote the charism of their founder. No trust in the goodness of young (and not so young) men still considering, pondering where God is calling them. Ultimately, no trust in God.It is God who calls. The onus is on us to listen. Listening is not a passive activity, but an active and vibrant pondering of God's presence in our lives. It takes extravagant and sometimes outrageous gestures of action to respond to that call. Thousands of people are making those gestures. There is no such thing, in my opinion, as an inevitability that religious orders should die out..............but congregations and orders really need to let go of the modern day fatalistic attitude that is so pervasive!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Making Ourselves Known

It is opportune to say a few words about the website for the Irish Dominicans. The site is an opportunity to let people know about the life and work of the Irish Dominicans. It is very much a work in progress, and now that it is 'up and running' it will be updated and improved as time goes on. It's fair to say that no website is ever perfect, but every website can be improved upon. And that is what we hope to do.

The vast majority of enquiries to me as vocations director for the province come through the website. In fact, 90% come from that medium - hence it is so important that we make ourselves known through the internet.

I was part of a team of people who worked on making the website. I am deeply indebted to them for their dedication, time and patience.

As part of promoting the website, I have visited all the communities in Ireland with new vocations promotion literature and took the opportunity to encouarge all the friars to promote our way of life as much as possible. One of our new vocation posters is pictured above.

Recent Events

Finding the time to blog recently has been difficult. It has been a busy time. So, I recently preached then annual novena in honour of our Lady of Fatima in our priory church in Pope's Quay, Cork. The interior is pictured above. In my opinion it is the most ornate of all the Dominican churches in Ireland - and really beautiful. It is well worth a visit.

The novena went well. There were two sessions each day with the exception of the two Sundays - one session with rosary, sermon and benediction. It was great to see good numbers attending each day - and particularly gratifying to see the church full on occasions for the event. Obviously, a lot of work went on behind the scenes to prepare for the novena - and the community there worked hard to make the novena successful.

A novena is primarily a time of prayer. It was a source of great encouragement to accompany a praying community for these nine days - so it was an enjoyable experience.

On the vocations front, I was able to meet with all of the enquirers from the Munster region while in Cork - and of course to promote the Dominican vocation to those attending the novena.