Monday, December 19, 2011

'We have almost screamed at the Holy Spirit for vocations....'

An interesting article in the widely read Irish newspaper the Irish Independent this weekend carried the quote which is the title of this blog entry. The article was trying to predict what the Irish church might look like in the year 2020. It is worth quoting in full: "We have almost screamed at the Holy Spirit for vocations but He doesn't seem to be hearing us. Maybe He is saying there is a different way, which might involve dropping the rule of celibacy. When you weigh the value of celibacy against regular access to the Eucharist, obviously, in the theology of the church, the Eucharist is much more important. The leadership of the church has to start taking its head out of the sand."

The quote is from a Columban priest Fr Sean McDonagh who is one of the founders of the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland. This association of priests represents around 10% of the priests in Ireland with approximately 500 members.

There are many reasons to be perplexed by the quote from Fr McDonagh but the suggestion that the Irish church has 'almost screamed' at the Holy Spirit for vocations is a downright untruth. In my 12 years as vocations director for the Irish Dominican friars I have had occasion on a weekly basis to travel the length and breadth of Ireland to attend Mass, meetings, gatherings of clergy, religious and lay people and all sorts of other  religious events and I could count on one hand the amount of times that I have heard a prayer for vocations to priesthood and religious life. This is hardly an experience of 'screaming' - it is more like a faint whisper. Fr McDonagh and I will clearly not agree on many things but we might on one issue - the distinct lack of leadership in the Irish church when it comes to vocations (by vocations I clearly mean priesthood and religious life). Let it be unambiguously said that in Ireland there is no plan, no strategy, no prayer, no leadership around vocations. In fact, if anything, the sacred calling is being completely undermined and watered down by the persistent attempts of leadership to promote co-workers, associates and other well-intentioned people. It is a pity that the untruths around vocations in Ireland are used to fuel other agendas.

8 comments:

Friar Bem said...

Good one brother! I hope you were able to make your comments on the paper's online edition! Keep up the good work!

gemoftheocean said...

Right....and 'of course' there are hundreds of women just clamoring to be the wife of someone in a cloistered order...yep, hubby is absolutely financially going to be able to provide for those 8, 9, 11 kids you are going to have... And as far as room in the cell for the families? Sure, why not? Bunk beds. And it will be a fun fight among the women who gets the sauce pans first.

What are these people thinking with? Certainly not their brains.

Fr Míċeál Beatty said...

I agree with you completely. Pray, pray and pray....

The Author said...

Whole heartedly agree with you. I never hear any appeals made from the pulpit to parents to encourage their children to think of the religious vocation as a possible way of life. I don't hear it is schools either. By the way we should nowadays be appealing for vocations to the Priesthood, Permanent Diaconate and Religious Life!!!

Lucerna said...

A word to Father McDonagh:

Isaiah 59:2

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

Lucerna said...

PS. Take care of evangelisation, and vocations will take care of themselves.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

A slightly facetious comment on what my Columban colleague and friend Fr Sean mcDonagh said: he didn't refer to the Holy spirit as 'she'. Archbishop Dolan of New York has spoken of the great vocation prolbem: that to marriage. Both marriage and the Catholic faith have collapsed in Ireland to an alarming degree. 'Spouse' has almost beocme a 'four-letter word'. How often we see 'partners' present at funerals while the deceased is praised to the skies by the priest instead of being entrusted in prayer to the mercy of God.

Back in 1976 when I was home for the first time from the Philippines I prayed by name one Sunday morning at Mass in Aughrim St, where I had grown up, for the souls of priests who ahd worked in the parish. A day or two after I was approached in the Phoenix Park by a young man with a son, a youngster, who thanked me for praying for the priests. It was clear he was grateful too that is son had heard the prayer.

I ahve found on recent visits to Dublin that people still have respect for priests and for what the priest is called to be and to do. Yesterday I posted a sermon on Holy Orders by Fr Alfred Delp SJ, martyred by the Nazis in 1945. I found it truly isnpiring: http://www.bangortobobbio.blogspot.com/2011/12/44th-ordination-anniversary.html

Kenny said...

Fr McDonagh and the like are one of the causes of the lack of vocations. Clergy who never wake up and smell the coffee.