I joined the Order in September 1987 (can it be that long ago?). It was an advert in the very popular Saint Martin Magazine asking readers to contemplate a vocation to the Irish Dominicans that prompted me to make contact. It was the response to that advertisement in the magazine that has me here today. I can assure you that I thank Saint Martin de Porres every day as well!
Back then, the people who joined the Order with me would have made contact in a similar way through responding to a vocations advertisment or through having been associated with some of our communities and friars throughout the country.
How times have changed. I have been visiting some of our communities in Ireland over the past few weeks and talking to them about the Year of Vocation. I have been telling the brethren that well over 90% of enquiries about vocations come through the internet. It is rare enough to get a phone call or letter enquiring about vocation.
As technology permeates almost every area of life, Roman Catholic communities around the world are also adapting it to their efforts to reach out to people who are interested in the possibility of vocation. So many religious and priests are blogging - websites are becoming ever more professional.
So, when I was joining over 20 years ago, people like me would have been depending on magazines, or the local parish priest for information for religious life. Today people go to Google or some other search engine and type: 'religious vocations' or in our case 'Dominican vocations'. All of this shows that people are generally very well informed about the Order even at an initial meeting.
Websites, blogs, podcasts and videos are all the new tools for vocations promotion. But, they must be good and up to date if the present generation of enquirers are to be convinced by them. But, despite all this technology, one thing reamins constant and that is that the Holy Spirit still has to be at work to prompt people to begin the search.