Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - a good year for Irish Dominican Vocations

In the final hours of 2010, it is appropriate to look back at the year that is coming to a close. By any standard, this was a very good year for Irish Dominican Vocations. The Irish Dominican friars celebrated three priestly ordinations during the year, received the simple profession of eleven of our brothers, and clothed three men in the habit of the Order. Currently there are twenty men in formation (at various stages) for the Dominican Order in Ireland. It has been many years since there has been such a number of young friars engaged in the process of being formed for Dominican life and preaching. We thank God for this.

Enquiries from those interested in the Dominican way of life remain at a high level. In the past twelve months, there were 52 new enquiries about the vocation, life and work of the Dominicans in Ireland. This number compares very favourably with the previous three years. Most enquiries come from Ireland, with a number of overseas enquiries also - particularly from Britain and the United States. The obvious knock-on effect from this high level of enquiries is that there are a significant number of people to be accompanied through a vocational discernment process, normally about 25 men are met on a monthly basis.

Promotion of the Dominican vocation is key to the ongoing strategy of creating a culture of vocations for the Irish Dominican friars. To that end, there has been a number of visits to third-level educational institutes in the past 12 months. Along with this, there has been a new collection of visually attractive advertising posters, free-standing banners and other materials made available to our communities, churches and centres - these are currently being distributed. Much work has been done in the preparation of a vocations website for the Irish Dominican friars - and this is due to launch early in the new year. A specially commissioned icon of Saint Dominic, which is now complete, will form the focus of a major 'prayer initiative' for Dominican vocations in 2011. More on this in the next couple of weeks.

Collaboration between the various elements of the Dominican family in Ireland (friars, sisters, contemplative nuns and lay Dominicans) has been very fruitful and beneficial to all over the past twelve months - particularly in the very successful Dominican Family vocations day which is now an annual event. Combined with this is the yearly publication of a Dominican family calendar. Irish Dominican Vocations is very pleased with the renewal of growth of the Dominican laity - several young people are expressing an interest in this form of Dominican life. The Dominican nuns at Siena Convent, Drogheda had cause to clebrate also during the past year with the final profession of Sr Niamh Muireann OP. As is regularly stated on this blog, the friars of the Order are very grateful for the prayerful support of our nuns.

Prayer for vocations to the Order is the single most important act that is carried out, because without prayer there will be no vocations at all. In my travels, I encounter individuals and groups who pray every single day for Dominican vocations. The number of individuals and groups praying for vocations has increased dramatically over the past few years - there has been a corresponding increase in vocations to the Order. I wonder why?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas

Irish Dominican Vocations would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers of this blog a very happy and holy Christmas. 

The child Jesus born in the manger, with His arms outstretched embraces the whole world with His love.  The love of the infant Jesus reminds us of the greatness of the hope which God offers us on Christmas Day. And it is on that same hope that we followers of Jesus Christ constantly depend.

I would also like to thank the very many people who in a variety of ways have contributed to the work of promoting and discerning the voaction of the Dominican friars in Ireland during the past twelve months. I am deeply indebted. And finally, to the 26,500 people who logged on to this blog since last Christmas - please keep the Irish Dominican friars in your thoughts and prayers.

Fr Gerard OP

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The 'O' Antiphons - Dominican Nuns Drogheda

The Dominican nuns at Siena Monastery, Drogheda, Co Louth are the only community of monastic Dominican nuns in Ireland. Their life of prayer, contemplation, study and community is a vital witness of the Dominican Order in Ireland. The friars of the Irish Dominican province receive huge support from the prayers of the nuns and we are very much in their debt. As vocations promoter for the friars in Ireland, I try as much as possible to highlight the vocation of our nuns in Droegheda as well. In trying to promote their way of life during this season of Advent, I am posting videos of the nuns singing the beautiful 'O' antiphons which are chanted in the ocatve before Christmas. The 'O' antiphons refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil. The videos also include some still photos of the life and work of the Dominican nuns at Siena monastery. For more information see or

Monday, December 20, 2010

Diaconate Ordinations for Irish Dominican friars

Three of our student brothers in formation, frs Dennis Murphy OP, Maurice Colgan OP and Brian Doyle OP will be ordained deacons on January 2nd 2011 in Saint Saviour's Dominican church, Upper Dominick Street, Dublin 1 during the conventaul Mass at 11.30 a.m. The Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland Dr Diarmuid Martin will ordain our three brothers.

The ministry of the deacon in the Catholic Church is described as one of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity. The deacon's ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the Gospel during the Mass, preaching and teaching. His liturgical ministry includes various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon, including being an ordinary minister of Holy Communion and the proper minister of the chalice when Holy Communion is administered under both kinds. The ministry of charity involves service to the poor and marginalized and working with parishioners to help them become more involved in such ministry. As clerics, they are required to recite the Liturgy of the Hours. Deacons, like priests and bishops, are ordinary ministers of the sacrament of Baptism and can serve as the church's witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which the bride and groom administer to each other (though if the exchange of vows takes place in a wedding Mass, or Nuptial Mass, the Mass is celebrated by the priest and the deacon acts as another witness). Deacons may preside at funeral rites not involving a Mass (e.g., the final commendation at the gravesite or the reception of the body at a service in the funeral home), and may assist the priest at the Requiem Mass. They can preside over various services such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and they may give certain blessings. They cannot hear confession and give absolution, anoint the sick, or celebrate Mass.

Please pray for our brothers as they prepare to take on this ministry as deacons and continue to pray for all our brothers in formation for the Irish Dominican friars.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

US Catholic church celebrates Vocation Awareness Week - and so should Ireland!

For the past 34 years, the Catholic church in the USA has been celebrating Vocation Awareness Week as a means to urge Catholics (and especially young Catholics) to think about priesthood and religious life. The week designated for 2011, which is well organised and well promoted, begins on January 9th (the feast of the baptism of the Lord - which marks the beginning of his public ministry) and concludes on January 15th. What I find interesting and encouraging about how the American church goes about promoting this awareness campaign is that it is unashamedly concerned with vocation to priesthood, religious life and consecrated life. There is no ambiguity about the purpose of the vocation that they are highlighting! A great deal of effort is made to get parishes, families, dioceses involved through prayer and education programmes.

Would such an awareness week, that was primarily focused on promoting priestly and religious vocation,work in Ireland? I'd like to think so, but would be concerned that we'd get politically correct and have to broaden the scope to include the vocation of all. And by that time, then we would have lost the focus. However, I do believe that those involved in vocations ministry in Ireland should take the initiative and begin exploring the possibility. We had a 'Year of Vocation' a couple of years ago - it could be another 25 years before another such year comes around. The vocations situation in Ireland demands a faster response than that - our vocation strategy (if it exists at all!) needs a yearly injection similar to the United States model. Any takers?

The US Vocation Awareness Week has good resources at the website of the American Catholic bishops and also at 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dominican Family Ireland - Calendar 2011

One of the ongoing initiatives of the vocations personnel of the Dominican family in Ireland (the contemplative nuns in Drogheda, the Dominican sisters of the Cabra congregation, the friars of the Irish province and the lay Dominicans) is the production of a calendar each year to promote the four 'branches' of the family. It is produced by our Dominican nuns in Siena Monastery in Drogheda. It is an ideal gift at this time of year as Christmas approaches. The calendar is currently being distributed to all the Dominican centres in Ireland. However, as not everyone who would like to have a copy will be able to receive one and if you would like one of these Dominican family calendars, please let me know and I will get a copy to you quickly. As always, the email is

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Upcoming Vocation Weekends

The Irish Dominican friars are arranging some vocation weekends in the new year. Usually, these weekends are by invitation to those who are being accompanied by the vocations director for a period of time. However, since the proposed weekends are some time away, there is an opportunity to claim a place on some of these weekends if you are interested in our way of life by making contact with the vocations director soon. The dates for these 'live-in' or 'come and see' weekends are as follows:

21st to 23rd January 2011
25th to 27th February 2011
18th to 20th March 2011

Vocation weekends are designed to give participants an opportunity to live for a weekend with one of our communities in Ireland, to take a full and active part in the prayer and communal events of the friars, to meet many of the brothers (especially those in formation), to ask as many questions as you have about Dominican life and to experience the work and ministry of Dominican friars in Ireland. There will also be some input on our life by some of the brethren.  Many of our younger brothers now in formation have found these weekends to be of great help in their discernment. For more information, please contact me (vocations director) by email

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dominicans go Snow-Mad!

Unseasonably early snow in Dublin is having a strange effect on the Dominican friars at our student house, Saint Saviour's in Dublin as you will see in this video. Thankfully, none of the friars were injured in the making of this production!! It brought to mind though, that joy and frivolity really have to be part of the spiritual life - and if you don't believe me, here's what Saint Thomas Aquinas had to say to those who lacked a bit of joy: 'Those who are lacking in fun, and who never say anything funny or humorous, but instead give grief to those who make jokes, not accepting even the modest fun of others, are morally unsound, and in view of the philisopher (Aristotle), are rough and boorish. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Irish Dominican friar gives lecture in House of Lords, Westminster, England

 fr Paul Murray OP
In what is surely a first, an Irish Dominican friar has given a lecture in the House of Lords - the upper house of the English Parliament. Yesterday, fr Paul Murray OP, of the Irish province of the Order who is based in Rome and is professor of spiritual theology at the Dominican university of Saint Thomas "The Angelicum", gave a lecture on Contemplation: An Essential Ingredient in the Christian Tradition. Approximately  two thirds of those who were present at the lecture were members of the House of Lords. The event was organized by the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust and Sky Arts. The lecture will be broadcast on Sky TV on January 15th, 2011 at 17.00. Speaking after the event, fr Paul commented: “For me it was a remarkable experience, needless to say, quite unforgettable. And perhaps the greatest joy was the privilege of being able to share, as a preacher, some of the great and sacred texts from the Catholic spiritual tradition. I had been asked from the beginning by Lord St John of Fawsley to speak in particular about the Carmelite mystics, John and Teresa but, of course, I did manage to find space also for a few Dominican voices!”

H/T to Angelicum Newsletter Blog  and the website for the order for this information.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dominican students on Pope Benedict's address to young people in London

Some of our student brothers, based at our house of studies at Saint Saviour's, Dublin, reflect on Pope Benedict's address to those gathered (predominantly young people) recently in Hyde Park in London for a vigil in preparation for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. The video is in two parts - and to see more of the video work and reflections of our students, please visit

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Advent Message from Master of the Order

The following message is from fr Bruno Cadore, the newly elected Master of the Order, to all the members of the Dominican Order worldwide, as we enter into the season of Advent:

Dear Sisters, dear brothers,
A great many of you in these last few weeks have shown your solidarity for the sisters and brothers of Iraq, who are struggling, together with their fellow citizens, with the recent resurgence of violence that has once more struck the Christian communities of this country. These displays of fraternity that unite us are a strong and precious support for Iraq’s communities. And through them, we also express our solidarity with the whole population of the country that is oppressed by this violence.
In these days when we are about to begin our celebration of the season of Advent, it is with a renewed vigour that we should affirm once more our hope in the arrival of Him who comes to dwell among us and so bring Peace. Several months ago, at the time of another of these terrible outbreaks of violence, a young survivor declared that nothing, not even the death that had just occurred, should make us renounce love. In the face of violence, he thus witnessed to the only true strength and dignity of man.
To unite us with all those in the world who hold this hope, and in communion with all the oppressed Christian communities today, in particular those of Iraq, I suggest that you make the First Sunday of Advent a time of prayer for peace, in your conventual Churches and your communities. This time could last for the whole of Advent, and give rise to a moment of prayer together with the Dominican Family.
May the Lord of Peace fill the world with his justice and give the grace of peace in abundance!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dominican vocations video from 1964

This promotional video (from 1964) by the Dominican friars of the Saint Joseph Province USA was called 'And the World Looks at Us' and was 28 minutes long in total. The 9 and a half minutes that you see here are excerpts from that. The video is pre-conciliar and show eucharistic liturgies from that era. From a vocational perspective though, it maintains a great interest because the essentials of Dominican life remain the same. And while the video is quasi-romantic in outlook, it still has a broad appeal. I hope that you enjoy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vocations in England and Wales are on the increase....

Some good news emerged last week from the annual conference of diocesan vocations directors of England and Wales with the news that September 2010 saw the numbers entering English seminaries to become Catholic priests at their highest level in a decade.
56 men began the journey towards priesthood this year.  “The number of people responding to the call of Christ to be priests and religious has been rising slowly but surely,” said Fr Stephen Lanrgidge, Chairman of the Vocations Directors of England and Wales, “and may rise further as people respond to the visit of Pope Benedict.”

At their annual conference held last week at Oscott seminary in Birmingham, the Vocations Directors discussed the approaches to vocations work that have contributed to this increase.  Many dioceses and religious orders now run discernment groups for young men and women where all vocations are discussed.  Such groups encourage lay, religious and priestly vocations.

Fr Christopher Jamison OSB, Director of the National Office of Vocation, commented, “When everybody in the Church takes seriously Newman’s insight that ‘God has created me to do him some definite service,’ then a greater number discover their call to the priesthood and religious life.”

Vocations directors also discussed new ways to promote this culture of vocation.  Invocation was a festival held in Birmingham in July 2010 for Catholics aged 16-35 who are discerning their vocation and some 300 young people attended.  This was so popular that it is being held again next year from June 17 to 19.
Schools are now being provided with high quality on-line materials and youth ministers are developing new approaches to bringing the gospel to life for the young. 

Attending events such as World Youth Day is an important experience that opens the eyes of many people to the richness of life in the Church and plans for English and Welsh participation are well developed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Media reaction to recent Dominican ordination

The recent ordination of Father David Barrins OP has generated some media interest on a national level in Ireland. Yesterday, Fr David gave a very good interview to one of Ireland's most listened to morning radio programmes (the John Murray show) on the national broadcaster RTE. You can listen to the interview by clicking the play button below (and just be a liitle patient to allow it to start):

Also yesterday, one of Ireland's national newspapers ran a front page story on the ordination. The article appeared in the Irish Examiner and you can read it here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

David Barrins OP is ordained to the priesthood

The priestly ordination of our brother David Barrins OP took place today in the priory church of Saint Mary's, Pope's Quay, Cork on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ Universal King. The bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckey DD was the principal celebrant and ordaining prelate. The homily was preached by Fr Ciaran Dougherty OP. Father David was joined by his family, friends and his Domincan brethren at the ordination ceremony. Below are some images of the day.

The entrance procession
David Barrins OP

The Gospel is proclaimed by the deacon
The homily is preached
Promising obedience


The laying on of hands

Anointing of hands
The offertory procession
Receiving the chalice and paten
Reading part of eucharistic prayer
The Salve Regina is sung at the end of Mass
Father David with members of his family along with Bishop Buckley
A blessing for Bishop Buckley

Irish Dominican Vocations wishes Father David every blessing in his priestly ministry. He will celebrate a Mass of thanksgiving tomorrow evening in his home parish of Colloney, County Sligo.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dominicans of St Joseph Province USA videos feature vocations......and on EWTN

Our brethren of the Saint Joseph Province USA have been attracting many, many vocations. In the video below, you will see 21 men clothed in the habit of the Order at a ceremony some months ago along with the first profession of the previous year's novices. The video is a very good production.

Leaving All Things Behind from Province of Saint Joseph on Vimeo.

The next video, though rather long, features the vocations director of the St Joseph Province, fr Benedict Croell OP on the Dominican charism and why so many attracted to the Dominican way of life in the province of Saint Joseph, USA. Really excellent, and well done to my fellow vocations director brother, Benedict.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Importance of Word of God for Vocations - Verbum Domini

Pope Benedict recently published Verbum Domini, an apostolic exhortation drawing on the Synod of Bishops held in 2008 to reflct on 'the word of God in the life and mission of the Church'. It is an interesting document in which the Holy Father is underlining the importance of the word of God in living our personal vocations: our lifelong call to holiness, and the specific call of each person. Pope Benedict addressed specific words to people in various vocations and states in life - including bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians and those in consecrated religious life together with married couples and families. His words will resonate with Dominicans and those thinking of the Dominican vocation with our particular emphasis on the proclamation and preaching of the Word of God. Below are some quotable quotes from Verbum Domini and those they are addressed to:

To Ordained Ministers: '....bishops, priests and deacons can hardly think that they are living out their vocation and mission apart from a decisive and renewed commitment to sanctification, one of whose pillars is contact with God's word........priests need to approach the word with a docile and prayerful heart so that it may deeply penetrate his thoughts and feelings and bring about a new outlook in him........those aspiring to the ministerial priesthood are called to a profound personal relationship with God's word, particularly in lectio divina, so that this relationship will in turn nurture their vocation.....'.

To those in consecrated life: '.....both old and new expressions of special consecration are called to be genuine schools of the spiritual life, where the Scriptures can be read according to the Holy Spirit in the Church, for the benefit of the entire people of God.....contemplative men an women by their lives of prayer, attentive hearing and neditation on God's word, remind us that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.....'.

To the lay faithful:'....who live out their specific vocation to holiness by a life in the Spirit expressed in a particular way by their engagement in temporal matters and by their participation in earthly activities'. Pope Benedict appealed to dioceses to provide opportunities for the laity 'to be trained to discern God's will through a familiarity with his word, read and studied in the Church under the guidance of her legitimate pastors.'

To married couples and families: ' must never be forgotten that the word of God is at the very origin of marriage and that Jesus himself made marriage one of the institutions of his Kingdom, elevating to the dignity of a sacrament what was inscribed in human nature from the to God's word leads us to point out that nowadays this institution is in many ways under attack from the current mentality......part of authentic parenthood is to pass on and bear witness to the meaning of the life in Christ: through their fidelity and the unity of family life, spouses are the first to proclaim God's word to their children........the ecclesial community must support and assist them in fostering family prayer, attentive hearing of the word of God, and knowledge of the Bible'.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Institution to Ministry of Acolyte

Three of our student brothers, Colm Mannion OP, Luuk Jansen OP and Matthew Martinez OP today received the ministry of acolyte at the conventual Mass at Saint Saviour's, Dublin. The principal celebrant was Fr Pat Lucey OP, Prior Provincial of the Irish Dominican friars.The ministry of acolyte is a preparatory step for the reception of Holy Orders and is concerned mainly with the assisting at the celebration of the eucharist and other related tasks related to the Blessed Eucharist. Below are images of the three brothers receiving the paten and chalice in preparation for today's Sunday conventual Mass. More information and images are available at

Bro Colm Mannion OP
Bro Luuk Jansen OP
Bro Matthew Martinez OP

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Irish Dominican friars to celebrate third priestly ordination of 2010

 David Barrins OP

The friars of the Irish Dominican province will celebrate the ordination to the priesthood of  Brother David Barrins OP on Sunday, November 21st at Saint Mary's Dominican priory church, Pope's Quay, Cork. The ordination ceremony is at 3.00 pm and the bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr. John Buckley will be the ordaining prelate.

Bro. David has recently completed his institutional studies and is assigned to the Cork community for the past number of months. He is currently the provincial promoter for youth ministry for the Irish Dominicans. A native of Colloney, County Sligo, David worked for some years in the financial services sector prior to joining the Dominicans in 2005.

This is the third priestly ordination for the Irish Dominicans this year. Father Fergus Ryan OP was ordained priest in April while Father David Rocks OP was ordained in July of this year. Irish Dominican Vocations wishes our brother David every blessing as he prepares for his priestly ordination.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Good news for vocations in Ireland as Franciscan friars receive new novices

 The four novices pictured with the Ennis Franciscan community

Vocations to religious life in Ireland received another timely boost in the recent past with the news that the Franciscan friars of the Irish province clothed four men in the habit of the order recently. The four: Marc Reimer, Feidhlim O' Seasnain, Michael O' Grady and Philip Geasley have completed their pre-novitiate in England and now begin their novitiate with the Franciscan community in Ennis, Co. Clare.

This very good news gives a boost to all religious congregations who are concerned with vocations and new membership. The long, cordial,  fraternal and historical links between the Dominicans and the Franciscans prompt Irish Dominican Vocations to wish our new Franciscan brothers every blessing on the road ahead as they set out to follow in the footsteps of Saint Francis. See also the website of the Irish Franciscan friars.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dominican student brothers speak about their vocation

Two of our student brothers, Ronan Connolly OP and Damian Polly OP recently gave a brief interview to about their vocation stories and a reflection on how their lives are as brothers in formation for the Order. Click on the link below to hear the interview.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Annual General Meeting of Religious Vocations Directors in Ireland

The annual general meeting of the religious vocations directors (male and female) in Ireland – known as Vocations Ireland will meet in Dublin this weekend. There will be a keynote address from well known Irish Times journalist Breda O’ Brien. I look forward to hearing her. She is, without question, one of the more rational and serious social and religious commentators in modern Ireland

What are the concerns of the vocations personnel in Ireland at this time? No doubt, the question of continued dwindling numbers of vocations will be high on the agenda. It is a perennial! The other issue that always exercises the mind is: where do we tap into where the young are at – how will we reach them? Lamentably, there will be a continuous call for more sub-committees, more focus groups, more research to be done to get to the root of the problem. Allied with that will be the sense of deflation on the part of many – it’s hard to retain optimism when there are few vocations.

And yet, some of the concerns seem so misplaced. I’d like my fellow vocations directors and promoters to think in a more constructive manner. Instead of lamenting and moaning about the small number of vocations why not take the initiative and make a concerted effort to promote the vocation of each order, congregation and entity. There is a very serious lack of vocational promotion in Ireland. It is practically negligible. No visibility. Will young (and not so young) take religious vocations seriously if religious themselves do not?

I have observed the proliferation of committees, sub-committees, focus groups and research studies undertaken by religious congregations in recent years. I do not doubt that they are well-intentioned. Unfortunately, like many reports and studies – they are filed away but give a suggestion of actually having done something. No report, or focus group or research will substitute for the real hard work of vocational promotion and discernment. Time to stop meeting and get out and do!

Then the question of deflation/lack of energy or hopelessness which is the malaise of many vocations personnel: it is time to look at your congregational leaders and leadership teams and encourage them to make vocations a top priority – to put resources (material, human and spiritual) at your disposal. Congregations leave so much to vocations personnel without ever encouraging them.

And finally, prayer! Where is there a sense of religious congregations praying in a real and earnest fashion for vocations? There are a few, but very few. Look at the thousands of ordinary people associated with religious communities whose resource as pray-ers for vocations that have not been tapped into. Do religious communities pray for vocations? And ultimately – no prayer, no vocations.

Please pray for us religious vocations directors as we begin a new academic year of promotion and discernment.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Saint Martin de Porres, the Saints and Vocations....

November 3rd is the feast day of our Dominican brother, Saint Martin de Porres. There is no doubting that Saint Martin is a saint for all ages and his life and work continue to inspire many people. As I have often noted elsewhere on this blog, I owe my Dominican vocation in no small part to the influence of Saint Martin de Porres, and I try with every opportunity to introduce him to others - and particularly those interested in vocation to the Dominican form of life.

It is no wonder that Saint Martin resonates with twenty-first century Catholics concerned with issues of justice, racial prejudice, the continuing divide between the rich and the poor and commitment to those at the margins of society. Martin with his commitment to all these issues and more is an ideal figure for a secular world. It becomes clear why he is beloved of so many, and why he has inspired many to follow him in the Dominican way.

It brings home the point that Saint Martin de Porres and indeed all those saints who lived vowed religious lives - if they are to make a difference, then there has to be some other unique aspect of their lives, some sign of grace, that makes a difference. While many would look at and focus on Saint Martin's commitment to the poor and deprived as the be all and end all, the fact remains that it was his life grounded in spirituality with the particular emphasis on community, sacrifice and the suffering love of Christ that marks him out as very different.

Today, many religious, particularly women's apostolic congregations that have worked long and hard in the areas of education and social service are suffering from fewer vocations and dwindling numbers. If one can serve the poor as a social worker, why become a brother, nun or priest? It is the distinctiveness of the religious vocation - that piece that marks it as different from the secular notion of career - that has become highly obscured. As Saint Martin, and many of the other saints remind us, it is the imitation of Christ, the following of Jesus in the service of the poor that makes the life of Martin both luminous and inspirational.

Saint Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dominican student brothers discuss Pope Benedict's letter to seminarians

Some of the student brothers of the Irish Dominican province based at Saint Saviour's, Dublin discuss the recent letter of Pope Benedict to seminarians with the Regent of Studies fr John Harris OP. To follow this discussion and some upcoming events log on to

Dominican Vocations - General Chapter Rome 2010

The General Chapter of the Dominican Order held in Rome during the month of September has published its 'Acts' - the outcome of the deliberations of the chapter. These 'acts' cover all aspects of Dominican life from community life to preaching, formation to study, government and administration and so on. Naturally enough, the vocations directors of the provinces of the Order will have a keen eye on what the acts of the General Chapter have to say particularly about vocations. There are three short paragraphs on the topic of vocations, but they are quite significant:
  • The fostering of vocations strengthens our general pastoral work with youth, encourages young friars to join in vocation promotion activities, involves the collaboration of the Dominican Family and in particular the prayers of our nuns. It also encourages our communities to live visibly the rich dimensions of Dominican life (LCO 165 § I). ACTA CAPITULI GENERALIS ELECTIVI – ROMÆ 2010 74
  • [Ordinatio] Based on the positive experience of several entities of the Order, we ordain that a promoter of vocations should be appointed in each Province, Vice-Province, and Vicariate (ACG 2004 Krakow, n. 265). If possible, the promotion and direction of vocations should be his primary task.
  • [Exhortatio] Granted the diversity of candidates entering the Order to-day, in terms of age, theological, and cultural background, we exhort promoters of vocations and Admissions Boards to scrutinise the suit-ability of candidates adequately before accepting them for our specifi-cally Dominican form of consecrated life. We cannot ask candidates “to be perfectly motivated, rather they should have the capacity to gradually mature and joyfully integrate themselves into our professed way of life” (ACG 2004 Krakow, n. 263).
I am particularly delighted that the Chapter acknowledges that the vocation promotion of the friars has a Dominican family dimension - with a specific role for the nuns (contemplative) in this regard. I am glad to say that in the Irish context that there is a strong collaborative dimension to the promotion of the Dominican vocation. It is also highly significant that the General chapter ordains that where possible, vocations directors for the Order should have this ministry as a 'primary task'. It has been shown that where full-time vocations directors have been appointed that there has been a stabilisation in the numbers joining provinces and in some cases, an increase in the number joining. Finally, the General Chapter exhorts the friars of the Order to acknowledge the diversity of backgrounds that candidates come from and to take all the relevant and necessary steps in discernment so that those wishing to join us can integrate themselves into our form of life.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pope Benedict writes to seminarians

In the past few days, Pope Benedict has written to all seminarians across the world. It is a significant communication from the Holy Father to all those in formation for priesthood in the present time. In a detailed and exhortative letter he touches on many subjects at the heart of seminarian life - and have a universal appeal both to those pursuing their vocation in the diocesan sphere or indeed religious life. It has many important messages for those contemplating vocational discernment and those currently doing so. Pope Benedict touches on the centrality of the relationship with God, the sacramental life, the sacrament of penance, popular piety, the intellectual dimension of formation, human maturity and the origins of priestly vocations. The full text of Pope Benedict's letter to seminarians can be accessed here:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bishop on Dominican Vocation in an Irish Pub!

Bishop Anthony Fisher OP of Parramata, Australia was a recent visitor to Ireland. Earlier this year he participated in the conclusion of the 'Year for Priests' organised by the friars of the Irish Dominican province held in Tallaght. In the video above, Bishop Anthony is speaking about his Dominican vocation (and many other topics) at a 'Theology on Tap' event in Parramata - in PJ Gallagher's Irish Pub! Incidentally, the 'Theology on Tap' initiative in Gallagher's is a direct result of the success of World Youth Day in Sydney a couple of years ago. Great to see Bishop Anthony in the pub......could we do or see the same in Ireland?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock - A Journalist's Perspective.

The annual Dominican pilgrimage to Knock on Sunday last was a topic that was aired on one of Ireland's most listened to radio programmes - the Pat Kenny Show on RTE Radio 1. Marie Louise O' Donnell speaks about her experience of the Dominican pilgrimage from Saint Saviour's, Dublin and meeting some of the friars (and particularly our student friars in formation). Well worth a listen. Here is the link to the programme:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Irish Dominican Vocations now on Facebook

You can now keep up to date on all the latest news, events, happenings, discussions and much more as Irish Dominican Vocations begins a new journey on Facebook. Addressing the church for the most recent 43rd World Communications Day, Pope Benedict encouraged us to '.... introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. In the early life of the Church, the great Apostles and their disciples brought the Good News of Jesus to the Greek and Roman world. Just as, at that time, a fruitful evangelization required that careful attention be given to understanding the culture and customs of those pagan peoples so that the truth of the gospel would touch their hearts and minds, so also today, the proclamation of Christ in the world of new technologies requires a profound knowledge of this world if the technologies are to serve our mission adequately. It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this "digital continent". Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the "Good News" of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds! The Pope accompanies you with his prayers and his blessing. ' We hope to respond to this message by having a positive presence in this 'digital continent'.

You can find us on Facebook at Irish Dominican Vocations

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dominican Pilgrimage to Knock 2010

The annual Dominican pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Knock, Co Mayo takes place tomorrow Sunday, October 10th. Considered by the shrine authorities as the last 'big' pilgrimage of the season, the Dominican pilgrimage each year consistently attracts very large numbers - with all of the Dominican presences in Ireland represented. So, several thousand people will congregate at Knock tomorrow for the event. The day's pilgrimage will include the opportunity for availing of the sacrament of reconciliation, the celebration of the sacrament of the sick, the celebration of the eucharist along with the rosary procession. Each year one of the friars of the province is asked to preach the homily during the Mass. This year the preacher is Fr Anthony Morris OP of the Sligo community.

Be assured that I will remember, in a special way, all those who help with the promotion of vocations to the Dominican Order at Our Lady's shrine tomorrow.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Feast of our Lady of the Rosary

For Dominicans worldwide, today's feast, Our Lady of the Rosary is very important - because of our association with the rosary and the special task that we have both of praying the rosary as part of our daily prayer and of promoting the rosary as a means of preaching. For many decades, Irish Dominican Fr Gabriel Harty OP has been promoting the rosary in Ireland and around the world. In the video below Fr Gabriel is in full flight as he speaks about the rosary as part of a contribution for the Year for Priest on the world priest website To many generations of Irish Dominican friars, Fr Gabriel has been an inspiration because of his dedication to the rosary and to his Dominican vocation. I hope that readers will enjoy Fr Gabriel on the rosary as we celebrate this great feast- and you might also take a look at his blog

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Video: Polish Dominicans Krakow

In July of this year I posted a video of the Polish Dominicans on this blog. I described it as atmospheric and moody - and it really was quite good. The video below - also by the Polish Dominicans depicts life in the studentate of the province in Krakow - and it is well worth a look. See what you think!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Two New Books by Irish Dominican - Fr Paul Murray OP

Two new books by Irish Dominican Fr Paul Murray OP have recently been published. The first, Door Into the Sacred is a meditation on the Hail Mary. The Hail Mary is a prayer that, with great simplicity and ease, brings us at once into the mystery of God incarnate, the mystery of Jesus, son of Mary. And though it is a humble entrance, it has, again and again, and for countless numbers of people over the centuries, proved to be a privileged threshold of grace, a real opening into the mystery and meaning of God’s love, a ‘holy door’.

The Hail Mary also has a radiance and depth of theological truth. Door Into The Sacred leads into a world in which the strenuous task of thinking and the easeful grace of feeling can both be considered sacred, and where wisdom and enchantment, theology and devotion, are found, at core, to be one and the same thing. The book is published by Novalis.

The second book is Praying with Confidence - Aquinas on the Lord's Prayer. Fr Paul combines a stimulating scholarly study and an ideal introduction for the general reader on the Lord's prayer by Saint Thomas Aquinas. The most important reflections on the great prayer are drawn together and considered in a single book. This gem of a book will certainly have a wide appeal in the exposition of Saint Thomas as a theologian and also as master and guide of the spiritual and moral life. It is published by Continuum. Both new titles are widely available internationally and also in Ireland in religious bookshops.

Irish Dominican Vocations congratulates our brother Paul on these two fine new publications to add to his ever-growing output.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Videos of Clothing & Profession

Below are videos of two recent Dominican vocation events. The top one is of the first profession of eleven of our novices on 15th September last. The second and lower video is of the reception of two men into the novitiate in Cork on 14th September. Thanks to Br Luuk Jansen for his video work.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Eleven Dominicans make First Profession - Saint Mary's, Cork September 15th 2010

Back left to right: Brothers Damian Polly OP, Patrick Desmond OP, Ronan Connolly OP, Gary Burns OP, Daragh McNally OP, James Cassidy OP.
Front left to right: Brothers Stephen Hackett OP, Eoin Casey OP, David McGovern OP, Stephen Jones OP, Conor McDonough OP

The Irish Dominicans joyfully celebrated the first profession of eleven brothers of the province who have just completed their novitiate year. The event took place during the celebration of the Eucharist at Saint Mary's priory church at Pope's Quay in Cork. The eleven brothers made profession in the hands of the prior of the novitiate community, Fr Edward Conway OP. A large number of Dominican friars gathered to celebrate the event along with the families and friends of the newly professed brethren. Having completed the novitiate and made profession, these eleven brothers will now move to the student house of the Irish Dominican province at Saint Saviour's, Dublin. Please keep these young Dominican friars in your prayers and those who will accompany them through their formation. Below is a selection of images from the memorable and historic event for the Irish Dominican friars.

Gary Burns OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

David McGovern OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

Damian Polly OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

Ronan Connolly OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

James Cassidy OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

Patrick Desmond OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

Daragh McNally OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

Stephen Hackett OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

Conor McDonough OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

Stephen Jones OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP
Eoin Casey OP makes profession in the hands of the prior, fr Edward Conway OP

The brothers seeking the mercy of God and the Order prior to making profession
The traditional blessing of the scapulars after the rite of profession