Monday, August 31, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
From the National Co-Ordinator of Diocesan Vocations Fr Paddy Rushe:
Fr. Paddy Rushe, National Coordinator of Diocesan Vocation Directors, said that these figures represented the highest intake of new seminarians since 1999, and were almost double the number that entered in 2003. "I want to acknowledge the hard work of vocation directors around the country who have spent time, in many cases well over a year, guiding and directing these men and preparing them for this step in their lives. Despite ongoing challenges to the Gospel values in the modern world it is encouraging to see evidence that God continues to inspire people to answer His call of service in the priesthood," he said.
Most of the new seminarians will study at St Patrick's College, Maynooth with others studying in Belfast, Rome and Spain. Welcoming the new candidates, their families and friends to Maynooth, the President of the College, Monsignor Hugh Connolly, said: "It is truly wonderful to witness the generosity of spirit of our new seminarians as, at this time, the Church in Ireland has completed a ‘Year of Vocation' and we begin, together with all the faithful throughout the world, the ‘Year for Priests'."
The new students range in age from those who have just completed their Leaving Certificate to those in their thirties and forties who are coming from a wide range of employment backgrounds.
Bishop Donal McKeown, chairperson of the Vocations Commission of the Irish Episcopal Conference, also welcomed the news saying that it was an encouragement to all those in parish communities and other organisations associated with the promotion of vocations, who continue to pray for and promote vocations in many ways. "Priests don't just appear out of mid-air," he said, "they come from families and communities; they are sons, brothers and uncles; work colleagues and friends; part of a Christian community."
A breakdown, by diocese, of the 38 first year seminarians for 2009 is as follows:
Ardagh & Clonmacnois 2; Armagh 3; Cashel & Emly 1; Clogher 1; Cloyne 2; Cork & Ross 1; Down & Connor 5; Dublin 5; Galway 2; Kildare & Leighlin 2; Killaloe 2; Kilmore 3; Meath 4; Ossory 1; Raphoe 2; Tuam 1 and Waterford & Lismore 1.
36 new seminarians will begin studies immediately, with another 2 commencing during the first term. 30 new seminarians began studies for Irish dioceses in 2008, 31 in 2007 and 30 in 2006, 27 in 2005, 28 in 2004, 19 in 2003.
The students will be spread over St. Patrick's College, Maynooth; St. Malachy's College, Belfast, The Pontifical Beda College, Rome; and The Royal English College, Valladolid, Spain;
The St Patrick's College Maynooth is the National Seminary for Ireland and has been forming men for the priesthood since 1795, see the college website here.
The website for the Diocesan Vocations Directors of Ireland is available here.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The recent publication of the survey for the National Religious Vocations Conference in the USA (see previous post) has attracted much attention in the United States and also in this part of the world. The study and survey has confirmed what many are realising and can verify - namely that those following a religious vocation are becoming more traditional - in the positive sense of the word. The survey suggests that two-thirds of the new religious (male and female) chose orders who have maintained their unique identities, have chosen to wear their religious habit and who follow a traditional communal prayer life. This along with fidelity to the Church and its teaching are cited as very important.
In contrast, the survey also finds that those religious orders who have opted not to wear their religious habits, who have abandonded their monasteries, priories and convents and in some cases have diluted their charisms and become akin to social workers are those congregations and orders that are not attracting vocations.
Evidently, more religious vocations are needed. In Ireland there are vast differences in vocation numbers between dioceses (rural and urban). Also, while the number of men following religious vocations may be increasing, the number of young women is not showing the same upward trend. These issues need to be addressed.
In Ireland, the generation of religious that is absent coupled with the generation of Catholics who do not practise their faith in any meaningful way are being replaced by a newer and, it could be argued, more committed generation. It is of the highest importance that this new generation of religious and young Catholics are not stymied by a generation that is older and has lost its way. It is also unhelpful to classify, as many do, these young people as conservative or traditional. It is evident that Catholics can not be either strictly liberal or ultra conservative but rather that Catholics must reconcile both by respecting and handing on tradition but also seeing what is needed today. Religious orders and, by extension, the Church itself must not neglect the needs of today or ignore the value of tradition - otherwise it will fail in attracting men and women who have an earnest desire to preach the Gospel for our time.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
campaigns, and the investment of resources into vocation promotion alone will not attract new
members. It is the example of members and the community life, prayer life, and/or ministries of
the institute that most attract new members." p.117
"Many of the successful institutes are characterized by a “culture of vocations” within the
institute. In these institutes everyone – not just the vocation director – has a sense of
responsibility for vocation promotion and is involved in and supportive of vocation efforts." p.118
"Findings from the survey of religious institutes reveal that there is a positive correlation
between having a vocation director, especially one who is full-time, and having candidates and
new members in initial formation." p.118
"Although the relationship is not as strong, having a vocation team is also positively
correlated with having new members." " p.118
"Several new members mentioned vocation directors who they experienced as pandering
to them or giving them a sales pitch. Examples included promises of opportunities to travel and
assurances that they could do anything they wanted in terms of ministry. These new members
suggested that this was the wrong mindset and the wrong approach for those with authentic
"Both vocation directors and new members emphasized the importance of honesty and authenticity in presenting the institute and suggested that websites
and other promotional materials will be for naught if they do not match the reality in the institute." p.120
"In particular, those [institutes] that sponsor discernment retreats are significantly more likely than those who do not sponsor
these retreats to have new members in initial formation and to be more successful in retaining
new members. It is important to note again that many young people today have little or no direct
contact with men and women religious. Discernment retreats and “Come and See” experiences
may be the first prolonged exposure to men or women religious for some of these potential
candidates." p. 120
"Results from the survey of religious institutes indicate that institutes that sponsor
vocation promotion and discernment programs directed toward college students and young adults
are more likely to have new members than those who do not sponsor programs for these groups.
Although the relationship is not as strong statistically, targeting high school students also appears
to have an impact on attracting and retaining new members." p.121
"Findings from the survey of new members show that 40 percent of the men and almost 50
percent of the women first considered a vocation to religious life before they were 18 years of
age. More than a quarter of the women considered it before they were 14. These findings
suggest that vocation directors might want to consider targeting some of their vocation efforts at
those in elementary and high school. Anecdotal evidence from vocation directors also suggests a
possible trend toward considering religious life at a younger age than was the case even a few
years ago." p.121