Recently I gave an interview to Pat O' Leary, a journalist with the Irish Catholic. It was published in that paper on Thursday last. I am grateful to Pat O' Leary for the exposure given to the Irish Dominicans. The context of the interview is important because tomorrow (Sunday September 14th), in our novitiate house in St. Saviour's, Limerick, three men will be clothed in the Dominican habit and begin their novitiate year. On the following day (Monday September 15th) at Saint Mary's Dominican Priory church in Tallaght, Dublin 24, three of our brothers who have completed their novitiate will take simple (or temporary) vows for three years, while during the same ceremony, three of our student brothers will make solemn (or final) profession. These events are a source of great joy for the Irish Dominican friars. It is because of this good news that the interview was published.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
On Vocations 'Crisis'
It seems that when it comes to vocations, we have only one word to offer: crisis! Maybe it's because we have only heard that one word 'crisis' that we really believe it! Yet, those involved in vocations ministry have to be the most optimistic of people and must not have that word (crisis) in their vocabulary. Why? Because we (vocations promoters and directors) really must believe and be convinced of the call of God in people's lives and also that we be true to the founders of our orders, congregations and societies, who did not set them up to die.
On Vocational Enquirers
My experience over these past eight years has shown that there are a significant number of young people who have a deep desire to follow the Lord. I meet them on a regular basis. Often they feel inhibited - thinking that they lack the qualities needed to become priests and religious. For me, it has been imperative to have a care and concern at a pastoral level for individuals who enquire about vocation to religious life and priesthood. This means that a proper method of discernment be followed and that enquirers and candidates have a real and authentic experience of what our life is like. It is also important that they feel that we have a deep care and concern for them and that we are honoured by their interest in our way of life.
Making ourselves known and visible is vitally important. We can no longer take it for granted that people know who we are and what we do. To this end it is vital that we be where our young people are looking - that means that we take communicating ourselves seriously. It is important, therefore, to have a good and vibrant presence on the internet and to have quality promotional materials in schools, churches and other institutions. This is necessary to encourage people to consider us as a serious option. This means being up-to-date and not slipshod in our approach to communicating ourselves. It turns people off otherwise.
Is there a Vocations Crisis?
There is if we want there to be one. There isn't if we make decisions and be bold and put out into the deep, make ourselves known wide and far, have a deep care and concern for those who wish to join our way of life and make the changes necessary to welcome new vocations. There is certainly no vocations crisis if we place our trust in the Lord and pray earnestly that God sends laboures to His harvest.