Thursday, March 31, 2011

Good news for Irish Augustinian vocations

Irish Dominican Vocations is always delighted to hear of any good news on the vocations scene in Ireland and believes that such news should receive the widest possible coverage - in a time when there is such negative news about the Irish church. So, it was with great joy that we learned of the recent solemn profession of an Irish Augustinian friar, Colm O' Mahony OSA (pictured above). The profession ceremony took place in the Augustinian church in Cork on the feast of the Annunciation (March 25th, 2011).

Irish Dominican Vocations sends best wishes to Colm (who will be ordained deacon in a few weeks time) and congratulates the Irish Augustinian friars on this excellent news with the hope that the order in Ireland will be blessesd with more vocations. For more information about the life and work of the Irish Augustinian Order, see their website:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pope John Paul II on his vocation.

The late Pope John Paul II will be beatified on May 1st next, the second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday). The video above, through the words of John Paul, reminds us of the centrality of Jesus Christ in the vocation of those whom he calls to serve him. In preparation for the upcoming beatification, there are some very good resources available online. There is an excellent facebook page and YouTube has many videos to view at

Pope John Paul had much to say during the years of his pontificate on the subject of vocations. Here are some quotable quotes:

"In the hidden recesses of the human heart the grace of a vocation takes the form of a dialogue. It is a dialogue between Christ and an individual, in which a personal invitation is given. Christ calls the person by name and says: "Come, follow me." This call, this mysterious inner voice of Christ, is heard most clearly in silence and prayer. Its acceptance is an act of faith."

"Do not be slow to answer the Lord’s call! From the passage of the Book of Exodus read to us in this Mass we can learn how the Lord acts in every vocation (cf. Ex 3:1–6, 9–12). First, he provokes a new awareness of his presence—the burning bush. When we begin to show an interest he calls us by name. When our answer becomes more specific and like Moses we say: "Here I am" (cf. v. 4), then he reveals more clearly both himself and his compassionate love for his people in need. Gradually he leads us to discover the practical way in which we should serve him: "I will send you." And usually it is then that fears and doubts come to disturb us and make it more difficult to decide. It is then that we need to hear the Lord’s assurance: "I am with you" (Ex 3:12). Every vocation is a deep personal experience of these words: "I am with you."

It is also important to remember that the life, ministry, words and the death of John Paul II have inspired many men and women to follow their vocation as priests and religious. When he is beatified, we can expect that many will ask through his intercession, for guidance and discernment and will follow the Lord in the path of service.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Follow Irish Dominican Vocations on Twitter

You can now keep even more up to date with all that is happening with Irish Dominican Vocations by following us on twitter at 

I hope that it will keep you informed with all relevant news and views as the Irish Dominican friars try to reach as many people as possible through all the various media and social networking services available.

As always, feedback is very important to us, so please let us know if you like our attempts to both preach the Gospel and promote our vocation in these ways. We like to hear constructive criticism as well!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dominican Family Vocations Day 2011

 The entrance to the Dominican campus, Cabra, Dublin 7.
 Final preparations are taking place for the third annual Dominican family vocations day which takes place on Saturday next, March 26th at the Dominican sister's campus in Cabra, Dublin 7. We are delighted once again this year to have as our lead speaker Dr Andrew O' Connell, who is communications director for the Presentation Brothers in Ireland and is also a noted social and religious commentator. His work and expertise with vocations personnel in Ireland and overseas is highly sought after and valued.

Participants are men and women who have an interest in the Dominican calling as friars, apostolic sisters, contemplative nuns and lay Dominicans. Those attending will have an opportunity to meet and talk with members of the four branches of the Dominican family. As with all Dominican gatherings such as this, the central parts of the day will include praying the liturgy of the hours and the celebration of the Eucharist.

Please pray for the success of this year's venture and particularly for those who will be participating.

Monday, March 21, 2011

'Soundbyte Research' on Religious Vocations in Ireland misses the point

Credible and verifiable research on the topic of religious vocations in Ireland (and elsewhere) is more than welcome. It informs those involved in vocations ministry along with their orders and congregations and indeed, the church as a whole. It is regrettable that there is little if any competent research done on the subject in Ireland in recent years. The Year of Vocation (2008-9) would have been the most appropriate time to carry out such research, but the opportunity was missed. Indeed, trying to ascertain the most basic information regarding new entrants to religious congregations in Ireland each year is something of a minefield - because nobody seems to know exactly where to turn to get such information. To its credit, the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference have a council for research and development that posts data on vocations and personnel annually. But the information is quite basic.

Recently, an article in The Furrow (a pastoral journal edited at St Patrick's College, Maynooth) published an article on "Religious Vocations in Ireland - the Church not God is the problem." It was written by Shane Halpin, who is the director of vocation and mission for the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts. Some of the content of the article has also appeared in other Catholic websites including cinews. The article in The Furrow is good and a welcome addition to the ongoing debate and conversation around religious vocations in ireland but it has one major flaw: the information (research) is based solely on an 'engagement' or ''interview' with two groups of young people, aged 22-36. We are not told if the 'engagement' is with 2, 20 or 200 people. Based on the interview/engagement model there are a number of quotes or soundbytes that are used in the article to authenticate the research. The author then draws conclusions along with a list of 'findings' and 'recommendations'. The recommendation that has provoked the most headlines (a sub-editor's dream, no doubt) is the following: The use of the word 'Church' is currently problematic and unhelpful in conveying the life (religious) in a positive light. This is perhaps the most worrying aspect of the feedback in that our Magisterium, and in particular, our Irish Church leadership with its male bias and widening generation gap, is perceived to be deaf and unable to meet the needs and aspirations of its young people.'

It is very difficult to take with any seriousness any of the recommendations and findings on research that is both unauthenticated and based on soundbytes. If anything, it does a major disservice to the church and particularly those involved in vocations ministry. One would expect more from a serious pastoral journal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Not all vocations are the same!

A recurring theme for religious vocations personnel is the requirement to promote the specific call to their way of life, and more particularly to promote the charism of their order, society or institute. This is important work and vital too if people are to maintian an interest in considering religious life as a call from God. There is a further recurring theme for religious vocation directors in that there is also a profound acknowledgement that all people are called to follow the Lord in their chosen way as married couples, those who choose to be single and those who are called to priesthood and religious life.

However, while we all acknowledge that we are all called to various forms of vocation in life, it is always necessary to make distinctions so that all vocations are promoted in their own right and that the dignity of each type of vocation is recognised for what it is. So, it is necessary when inviting people to consider any specific vocation, to look at other vocations as well. And it is essential that if we want to promote all vocations then we must promote each one in its own right with enthusiasm and underlining its unique character.

Over the past couple of decades there has been a watering down of the understanding of the religious vocation. This may well be as a result of an unclear understanding that all vocations in the church were equally imporant and of the same value, and many would have stated that the differences or distinctions no longer mattered. Along with this, religious themselves either discouraged or stopped promoting their distinctive form of life. This has had an effect on the understanding and nature of the religious vocation: it is not in opposition to other states of life such as marriage but because it has a specific character that is in contrast to the prevailing culture, it needs more than ever to be promoted vigorously as an integral and important vocation in the church

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Irish Dominican Vocations blog receives 50,000th visitor!

Today, this blog received it's 50,00th visitior (from Melbourne, Australia) which is a bit of a milestone for a blog that is simply concerned with vocations to the Irish Dominican friars. For the statisticians among the readership, you might like to know that the blog receives an average of 75 visitors a day, and approximately 2,500 unique visitors per month. The most visitied month was last September (2010)  which coincided with the election of the new Master General of the Dominican Order - fr Bruno Cadore OP, and the most searched topic has been (unsurprisingly) 'irish dominican vocations'. Most visits come from Ireland, followed by the United States, then thirdly the United Kingdom. The blog has regular readers and followers, and I thank them for their interest, support and comments. Here's to the next 50,000 visitors!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The vocation of the Dominican Co-operator Brother

The friars of the Irish Dominican province have been blessed with having, over the generations, many co-operator brothers among its ranks. These are men who decide not to become ordained priests in the Order and whose vocation is centred on the universal call to holiness and the deepening of their relationship with Jesus Christ through the living out of their vowed life. They are involved in a variety of ministries.

Their vocation provides a unique witness that all Dominican friars, both ordained and non-ordained, are first and foremost consecrated religious bound together as friars by their common religious profession in a Dominican vocation.   It is religious profession that makes the friars full, unlimited and unrestricted inheritors of Dominic’s vision and the charism of our Order, expressed in our contemporary world.  All are brothers of St. Dominic but called to different ministries. 

The Dominican friars both in Ireland and internationally have been reflecting on the vocation of the co-operator brother quite a lot in the past years, especially as the numbers of Dominican co-operator brothers has fallen substantially. There is a universal and unequivocal appreciation and understanding of the vocation of our brothers which is summed up in the words of a recent General Chapter of the Order (the governing body of the Dominican Order) in these words:

 Since it is the whole community which preaches, the Order's mission and community life is weakened in the absence of our Brothers.  Proclaiming the good news to people and in places that others cannot reach is the special charism of the Dominican Brother.

The Irish Dominican friars continue to welcome enquiries from those interested in becoming co-operator brothers in our province and if you feel called, then please make contact with me by email

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Dominican Study: On the 'Dictatorship of Relativism'

As part of the ongoing study of the friars, the community of the house of formation of our student brothers at Saint Saviour's, Dublin, occassionally invite guest speakers to give input on important topics facing both church and society. Recently, Mr David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, and highly regarded and well known journalist and social and religious commentator in Ireland, recently gave a talk on the 'Dictatorship of Relativism' - a term used by Pope Benedict with greater frequency. This is an excellent presentation which raises many questions.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The 'Oprah' Dominican Nuns.....

One of the fastest growing orders of women religious in the United States is expanding to California where the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, took over administration of a Sacramento Catholic school this school year.

Perhaps more significantly, the Dominican Sisters have outgrown the motherhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan., and are planning to build two new houses of formation in California and in Texas. Each would hold about 100. The order’s lifestyle intrigued Oprah Winfrey, who featured the sisters twice on her show in 2010. As a result they have been nicknamed the “Oprah nuns.”

“We had 22 young women enter in August, and we have had between 10 and 20 new vocations per year for the past five years,” said Sister Thomas Augustine, director of California Mission Advancement. “It has happened to us before that by the time we finished adding onto the motherhouse in Ann Arbor we were already out of room! This time we are hoping to stay ahead of things so we are planning for two new houses of formation.”

Founded in 1997 by four Dominicans from the Nashville Dominicans, just 31 of the 110 Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, have made final vows so far. The remaining religious are in various stages of formation or education and discernment, said Sister Thomas Augustine.

“We’re not turning anyone away. We’ll sleep on the floor. We’ll live in kitchenettes, closets and landings. We have in the past,” Sister Thomas Augustine said.

The order is part of a worldwide resurgence among religious orders who embrace the traditional religious life as part of Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization, Sister Thomas Augustine said.

“The thing to note is what we all have in common: the habit, living a common life, devotion to the Eucharist and Our Lady, absolute fidelity to the Church’s teachings and the influence of John Paul II,” said Sister Augustine, who was a New York lawyer before she joined.

Saint Thomas Aquinas on Religious Vocation

"It seems that no one should persuade, or draw, others to enter religious life" and  "It seems that it is not praiseworthy for someone to enter religious life without the counsel of many people and long previous deliberation." are two statements that Saint Thomas Aquinas deals with in relation to the religious vocation in his works in the Summa Theologiae and Contra Doctrinam Retrahentium. You will find Aquinas fascinating on the topic which can be accessed here on the Paths of Love blog.