Thursday, July 9, 2009

Is Ireland Losing Vocations?

There has been some coverage recently in the Catholic media in Ireland and Britain about the transferring of some candidates for priesthood (seminarians) and priests to a 'conservative' French (religious) community. The community in question appears to be the Missionaries of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Toulon.

It has been reported that many of the Irish bishops are concerned about this and that there is a broad agreement among the hirearchy in Ireland that Irishmen interested in the priesthood should be encouraged to join Irish based dioceses and congregations. It is estimated that 'a few dozen' Irishmen have joined congregations outside the Irish church in recent years.

While I agree that, as far as possible, men from Ireland should be encouraged to join Irish dioceses and religious orders in Ireland I am left with some questions. What is it that the dioseses, seminaries and religious orders and congregations are not offering to these men who undoubtedly have vocations? Is is tradition, authenticity, identity - or the lack thereof? And who can blame men (young and old) who seek to follow the Lord elsewhere when there is a distinct lack of interest in promoting vocations to priesthood and religious life in Ireland?


Fr Seán Coyle said...

You ask a very good question. You had a post some time ago in which you indicated that those who enter the Dominicans in Ireland today are seeking an ordered life: genuine community, community prayer, a clear mission and the wearing of the habit. God seems to be blessing your order in Ireland and in Britain.

A congregation of Sisters I'm close to here in Bacolod City, Philippines, the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family, have a two-hour vigil for vocations before the Blessed Sacrament every month, usually on the night of the first Saturday. The Sisters live in community, wear a simple habit, put prayer, both liturgical and private, at the heart of their life and serve mainly girls from very broken or poor backgrounds. They came to the Philippines 26 years ago from Spain with Sisters from there, from Colombia and from some of the Central American republics. Last month they accepted 14 aspirants.

I wonder if many Irish priests and religious are stuck in the 1970s when the Church was in turmoil. Our churches are rapidly emptying and we still have people talking about 'liberal', 'progressive' and 'conservative' Catholics. At a meeting recently here in the Philippines I mentioned the growth of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, founded in Argentina in 1984, who now have a parish in the Diocese of Ferns. One priest at our meeting, from a Latin American country, dismissed them as 'conservative'. Yet millions have left the Catholic Church in Latin America in recent decades.

On my last visit home, two years ago, I decided to wear my clericals most of the time, something I hadn't done for years except when I was going to our church to celebrate daily Mass and on similar occasions. I was very pleasantly surprised at how strangers responded to this. One man, around 40, approached me in a pub where I was at a post-funeral lunch, stuck E10 in my hand and thanked me for wearing my clericals. He wasn't a member of the party.

On a bus a woman who described herself as homeless asked me to remember her recently deceased husband at Mass the following Sunday, She then asked me what happens to us when we die.

But when I go home I see how dedicated priests are. If I may mention Fr Dan Joe O'Mahony OFMCap, the chaplain at Blanchardstown Centre, who's one of the happiest people I know and who always wears his habit. The Oratory at the Centre has Mass every weekday, adoration, confession, and mini-retreats for workers and students, especially during Advent and Lent.

The very first conscious stirrings I had of an interest in being a priest was seeing Dominican friars in their habits in your church in Dominick St in Dublin when I was around First Communion age. My Dad used to take me there some times for High Mass. I always found it too long but I could see how much it meant to my Dad.

Gerard Dunne OP said...

Re post from Aquinas - please contact me directly at Thanks.

Gerard Dunne OP said...

A further discussion on this blog entry continues at the Irish Catholics' Forum at

Anonymous said...

Dear Father Dunne,
I'm sorry to see you promote the Irish Catholics' Forum.

A forum that Irish Latin Mass Society,Peadar Laighléis uses to spread calumny. The antics of "Alaisdir Ua Séaghdha" are well known.

Nobody posts on that forum for very good reasons. Some of the comments on that forum are pending legal action.

"Alaisdir Ua Séaghdha" Peadar Laighleis is bringing down great scandal upon his own organisation.

A majority in Ireland are well aware he uses this pseudonym to carry out tracts which he spreads via this internet forum. There are others like 'Hibernicus' who are spreading vicious calumny.


Well, let's close the debate on that. I am not a spokesman for the LMSI, so there is no point talking to me."

Everybody knows he is the LMSI President and let you not wonder why very few join that internet forum.

It just sets out to attack and spread calumny.
I don't expect you will post my comment but what I have written is the truth.

Contact Mr.Leo Darroch of the Una Voce Federation and ask him about "Alaisdir Ua Séaghdha" Peadar Laighleis.

Just warning you, Father Dunne about the forum you have just joined.

Gerard Dunne OP said...

To 'Peter': Thanks for your comment. I have no intention to promote the Irish Catholics Forum. I was bringing to the attention to readers of this blog that a discussion on this topic was being discussed by them. I am not endorsing the content of their website.