Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reflecting on Vocations Weekend

Three men attended the vocations weekend in our novitiate in Saint Saviour's, Limerick this past weekend. Coming from different backgrounds and from various parts of the country (Wicklow, Sligo and Laois), they experienced the lives of our three novices and also joined in all the community functions of prayer and liturgy and recreation. A visit to the Benedictine abbey at Glenstal, Murroe, Co. Limerick was also included. The feedback on the experience of the weekend from the particpants was very positive. This was helped in no small way by the warm welcome given to them and myself by the community. I am looking forward to the next vocations weekend in the novitiate very much (May 9th to 11th).

So far this year, fifteen people have attended vocation weekends in both of our formation houses in Dublin and Limerick. Three others will attend the next weekend. As always, please keep all of our postulants and enquirers in your prayers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Vocation Weekends in Limerick

There are two vocation weekends to be held in the novitiate house (pictured) of the Irish Dominican province: Saint Saviour's Priory, Glentworth Street, Limerick in the near future. The first is this coming weekend April 25th to 27th and the second such weekend is to be held on the weekend of May 9th to 11th.

These weekends are an important feature of vocational discernment in which those interested in joining the Order get an opportunity to live in the novitiate community for a weekend. During their time there, they learn more about novitiate life, the lives of the novices and also get to know the Dominican community by joining in all the community functions. More especially, it is an opportunity to understand the significance of the novitiate as the first part of formation to be a Dominican friar

Please pray for the success of these weekends, but particularly for those who will be attending

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pope Benedict in USA : On Vocations

Speaking to the American bishops in Washington during his recent trip, Pope Benedict was asked to comment on the decline in vocations despite the growing numbers in the Catholic population, and on the reasons for hope offered by the personal qualities and the thirst for holiness which characterise the candidates who do come forward.

The full text of Pope Benedict's reply is set out below. It is both encouraging and challenging.

Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a sure sign of the health of a local Church. There is no room for complacency in this regard. God continues to call young people; it is up to all of us to encourage a generous and free response to that call. On the other hand, none of us can take this grace for granted.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:37-38). Strange to say, I often think that prayer - the unum necessarium - is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue!

Nor am I speaking only of prayer for vocations. Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programmes of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord's will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God's call. Programmes, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God's call.

It has been noted that there is a growing thirst for holiness in many young people today, and that, though fewer in number, those who come forward show great idealism and much promise. It is important to listen to them, to understand their experiences, and to encourage them to help their peers to see the need for committed priests and religious, as well as the beauty of a life of sacrificial service to the Lord and his Church. To my mind, much is demanded of vocation directors and formators: candidates today, as much as ever, need to be given a sound intellectual and human formation which will enable them not only to respond to the real questions and needs of their contemporaries, but also to mature in their own conversion and to persevere in life-long commitment to their vocation. As Bishops, you are conscious of the sacrifice demanded when you are asked to release one of your finest priests for seminary work. I urge you to respond with generosity, for the good of the whole Church.

Finally, I think you know from experience that most of your brother priests are happy in their vocation. What I said in my address about the importance of unity and cooperation within the presbyterate applies here too. There is a need for us all to move beyond sterile divisions, disagreements and preconceptions, and to listen together to the voice of the Spirit who is guiding the Church into a future of hope. Each of us knows how important priestly fraternity has been in our lives. That fraternity is not only a precious possession, but also an immense resource for the renewal of the priesthood and the raising up of new vocations. I would close by encouraging you to foster opportunities for even greater dialogue and fraternal encounter among your priests, and especially the younger priests. I am convinced that this will bear great fruit for their own enrichment, for the increase of their love for the priesthood and the Church, and for the effectiveness of their apostolate.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Media and Year of Vocation

It was good to see that the national newspapers in Ireland carried some coverage (albeit scarce) of the national launch of the Year of Vocation. All of the broadsheets: The Irish Examiner, The Irish Times and The Irish Independent quoted from Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's homily at Dublin's Pro-Cathedral where he said that being a Christian 'is not a spectator sport.....You cannot simply be a passive Christian sitting on the sideline always or watching from the grandstand when the occasion arises.' There were quotes too regarding priesthood: 'We need priests, good priests. We need them not to fill gaps caused by the death of older priests. We need priests who can be beacons in our society.' And on vocation, he said: 'The world needs vocations not determined by a detailed job description, as in business, but in the ability to place one's life, with all its inadequacies truly at the service of Jesus.' These papers also included statistics about the large number of deaths of priests and religious as against the numbers of those joining seminary or religious life.

The Irish Catholic also produced a supplement for Vocations Sunday which had a particularly strong Dominican input - 3 of the 4 main articles in the supplement focused on various aspects of the Dominican vocation. This pleased this blogger very much!

As part of the launch of the Year of Vocation the organising committee for the year have put together a website http://www.yourvocation.ie/ It appeared on the evening before the launch and it seems that the website is very much in the embryonic stage. This is, unfortunately, an opportunity lost to really give a proper launch on the internet to this special year.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Words of Thanks

I would like to express my thanks, and that of the Irish Dominicans, to the many people who took part in the Dominican launch of the Year of Vocation yesterday at St Saviour's Dominican Church, Dublin. It was truly heartening to see so many people gather to pray for vocations.

I would also like to thank all those who were responsible in the planning and preparation of the event, and particularly those who agreed to read and sing.

Thanks also to those who gathered in Newbridge Dominican Church, Co. Kildare, for an hour of prayer on the same day.

I hope that this good beginning is a sign of good things to come.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Irish Dominicans Launch Vocations Sunday and Year of Vocation

The Irish Dominican Province of Friars launch Vocations Sunday and the Year of Vocation tomorrow 'Good Shepherd Sunday' in our priory church of Saint Saviour, Dominick Street, Dublin 1 at 5.00 p.m. with an hour of prayer. Members of the Dominican family have been invited and there have been invitations to our local faith community and the many groups from other nationalities who frequent our city centre church. Please pray for us Dominicans as we launch this time of promotion and prayer for vocations and the success of the initiative of the Irish Catholic Church.

Local Dominican communities will be marking Vocations Sunday in different ways, but particularly through the medium of preaching. Some communities have also organised times of prayer for vocation. To find out the location af all the Dominican communities in Ireland please visit the provincial website of the Irish Dominicans.

It is appropriate to conclude with the Dominican Prayer for Vocations:

Lord Jesus, as you once called Saint Dominic to preach the Gospel, so now send new preachers into your harvest. Give them courage, wisdom and grace to make them witnesses of your death and resurrection and return in glory. Through the intercession of Mary, patroness of the Order, may they bring true faith and light to brighten the darkness. You who live forever. Amen.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pope's Message for Vocations Sunday 2008

Pope Benedict published his message for Vocations Sunday 2008 in December 2007! Having read it on a number of occasions, I am struck by the encouraging tone of the message and the exhortative nature of what he wishes to say. For anyone involved in the promotion of vocations to religious life and priesthood, to anyone considering a vocation - but especially priests and religious - it is essential reading. You can read Pope Benedict's full text here.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Dominicans and World Youth Day in Australia

I am very pleased to see that the Australian Dominican friars have put up a blog on their contribution and involvement in World Youth Day 2008. You can access the blog here. It looks like an excellent resource for anyone attending or thinking of attending this great event in the life of the Church in 2008. I would love to be there but for other commitments during the month of July.

I notice that one of the friars of our own province, Fr. Paul Murray OP, who lectures in spirtuality in the Dominican University of Saint Thomas in Rome is to give one of the talks at the Dominican Youth Gathering in Sydney on July 16, 2008 entitled 'Seek His Face: Knowing the One You Witness'.

We should pray for the success of World Youth Day, for all the paricipants and for all the Dominicans attending and involved.

One Week to Go.....

There is just one week to go to Vocations Sunday 2008. In Ireland, Vocations Sunday this year has a special significance since it is the beginning of the Year of Vocation. Although, one would hardly think so. I have been taking a look at the April editions of the various Catholic journals and periodicals that are published in Ireland. There is hardly a word written about the upcoming year of prayer for vocations - the exceptions are Intercom (published by Veritas) and The Word (published by the Divine Word Missionaries). Add to this a couple of letters to the Irish Catholic - and that's it! Admittedly there have been a few articles in February and March in some of the popular Catholic magazines. Still, with the immense possibility of a dramatic impact in the lead up to such an important time in the life of the Irish Church, one would expect more - a lot more!

A trawl through the websites of the various religious orders (male and female) and the Roman Catholic dioceses in Ireland (with a couple of exceptions) I found it hard to find any reference to the Year of Vocation. This is a pity. Hopefully in the next week there will be a dramatic change - or is this wishful thinking on my part?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Year of Vocation - Irish Dominicans Launch

As readers of this blog will be well aware by now, the Irish Catholic church has designated a Year of Vocation to begin on Vocations Sunday (13 April 2008) and to conclude on Vocations Sunday 2009 (3 May 2009).

The Irish Dominican Friars are launching their opening initiative for this Year of Vocation by hosting an hour of prayer in St. Saviour's Church, Dominick Street, Dublin 1 on Sunday, April 13th, 2008 beginning at 5.00 p.m. All are very welcome to attend this prayer time.

I think that it is most appropriate to begin the year by the act of praying for vocations. This event will be the first of many to be organised by the Irish Dominicans in the coming thirteen months. Upcoming events for the Year of Vocation will be posted on this blog and also on the provincial website of the Irish Dominicans