Tuesday, February 28, 2012

4th Annual Dominican Family Vocations Day

The fourth annual Dominican family vocations day will take place on Saturday, March 24th, 2012 at Saint Saviour's Dominican priory, Dorset Street in Dublin city centre - beginning at 9.30 am and concluding at approximately 5.00 pm.

This is an excellent opportunity for men and women who are interested in the four branches of the Dominican family (lay Dominicans, friars, apostolic sisters and contemplative nuns) to learn more about the Order and to get a chance to meet members of these four branches.

The day begins at 9.30 am with registration and coffee, followed by introductions and morning prayer of the church. We are delighted again to welcome back this year among us Dr Andrew O' Connell, communications director with the Presentation brothers who is also a noted journalist and religious and social commentator who will give the main presentation. There will be also some inputs from members of the Order as part of the overall presentation. Mass will be celebrated to bring the day to a conclusion.

The success of this event over the past few years has been the informal nature of the vocations day - with plenty of opportunity to meet with the various members of the Dominican family and to share in the hospitality of the friars with whom the participants will have lunch.

Space, unfortunately, is limited, so if you are interested in participating in the day, you should contact me, the vocations director for the friars as soon as you can. The email address is frgd@eircom.net and the telephone number is +353 1 8897613.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A note from Belfast....

The Catholic chaplaincy chapel at Queens University Belfast.
Question: Where on the island of Ireland would you get over 3,000 students (generally aged 18-25)attending Mass on Ash Wednesday and who would queue up for confession throughout that day?

Answer: At the Catholic chaplaincy at Queens University in Belfast!

That is where I have been these past few days at the invitation of the Catholic chaplain at QUB, Fr Gary Toman, to preach the annual Lenten retreat for the Catholic students. This is my seventh time to preach the retreat in the past ten years and it is both a humbling and edifying expereience. Dominican friars have been fortunate to have been asked to take on the task of preaching this retreat here for almost the past thirty years.

For Dominicans, universities have been important places. From the beginnings of the Order, the friars were sent to universities to receive the best education possible and with the growth of the Order, many of the friars took up key positions as professors in the disciplines of theology and philosophy throughout Europe. They made a significant contribution - in fact many vocations emerged from the university system because of the influence of the brethren.

Given that many vocations come to the Order generally, and to the Irish province of friars from men who have been through the university system, it has been an important task of this vocations director to try and promote vocations at third level colleges, institutes and universities. The new thinking generation of men (and women) of Catholics who are emerging from these institutes and colleges regularly ask for a more visible presence of religious to help them in their faith journeys but also to challenge them in discerning their vocations in life.

This is a crucial work for vocations personnel and we would be negligent if we did not respond to this need!

For more information on the Catholic chaplaincy at Queens University, Belfast, please visit www.qubcc.org

Monday, February 20, 2012

Recent academic awards for Irish Dominican friars

Fr Wilfrid Harrington OP
Fr Paul Murray OP

Two of the brothers of the Irish Dominican province were recently recognised and honoured for their  academic contributions in their respective fields.

On Monday January 30th last, fr Paul Murray OP, of the Irish province was conferred with the STM (Master in Sacred Theology) by the Dominican Order prior to fr Paul's delivery of the annual 'Aquinas Lecture' at Saint Mary's Dominican priory, Tallaght, Co. Dublin. The award of STM is the highest internal honour that the Order can give to one of the brothers for their significant contribution to theology. Fr Paul lives in Rome and is the president of the Institute in Spirituality and professor of spritual thrology in the Dominican university of Saint Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome.

On Thursday February 16th, a book was launched to honour fr Wilfrid Harrington OP on the occasion of his 85th birthday. The event took place in Saint Mary's Dominican priory, Tallaght, Co. Dublin. The book The Word is Flesh and Blood - The Eucharist and Sacred Scripture has been edited by fr Wilfrid's Dominican brethren Thomas MacCarthy and Vivian Boland and is a festschrift to the author of over fifty books - all of them scripturally based. Fr Wilfrid's contribution to sacred scripture and biblical theology has been immense - and the large number of his friends, family, colleagues and members of the Dominican family at the event bears testament to their appreciation of his work in this field.

Irish Dominican Vocations adds congratulations and best wishes to Brothers Wilfrid and Paul on their recent awards and recognition.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Irish Dominican friars receive new novice

 Brother Paul is formally welcomed by the the prior of the novitiate community fr Joe Kavanagh OP
Today, the Dominican Order throughout the world celebrates the feast of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, successor as Master of the Order to Saint Dominic. Today, the Irish Dominican friars had further cause for celebration as they clothed a novice in the habit of the Order as he began his novitiate. The ceremony of being clothed with the habit of the Order took place during the conventual Mass at Saint Mary's priory church, Pope's Quay in Cork.

Paul Delaney, a native of Cork, has for the past number of years worked in Queens University in Belfast as a lecturer in applied mathematics and theoretical physics. He joins the novitiate, unusually, at the almost mid-way point. This is because of his commitments to teaching and other matters in the university. He joins the five other novices who began their novitiate in September 2011.

Below are some other photographs from the reception of Brother Paul as a novice today:

Brother Paul pictured with the other five novices for 2011-12
Brother Paul with members of his extended family after the clothing ceremony
fr Philip McShane OP, novice master, Bro Paul Delaney and fr Joe Kavanagh, prior
Please pray for our novices and for vocations to the friars of the Irish Dominican province.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dominican vocations prayer initiative moves to Dundalk

 Mass-goers in St Malachy's Dominican church, Dundalk, admire the icon of Saint Dominic
Having launched the Dominican vocations prayer initiative in Siena monastery in Drogheda last month, the icon accompanying the prayer initiative arrived at our Dominican church of Saint Malachy in Anne Street, Dundalk this weekend. There was a very enthusiastic reception from those who worship in our church there and many of them have undertaken to pray for vocations to the Order on a regular basis. The icon of Saint Dominic, which has been specially commissioned, was very well received and as the focus of prayer will remain in Dundalk for the next four weeks. The most encouraging remark from my weekend visit to our church was from a woman who said that she had never been directly asked to pray for vocations before - but that she will do now with her family because of our invitation to prayer.

Saint Malachy's Dominican church, Dundalk, Co. Louth
Our ongoing efforts to encourage prayer for Dominican vocations has prompted a good deal of interest from other religious orders in Ireland along with media enquiries  in the areas that the icon has already visited. Please continue to pray for the success of this venture.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pope Benedict's Message for 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2012

Vocations Sunday falls on Sunday April 29th this year - the fourth Sunday of Easter and it will be the 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

In his message for the day of prayer, Pope Benedict has chosen the theme 'God is Love - Deus Caritas Est.' Below are extracts from the Pope's message:

"It is a love that is limitless and that precedes us, sustains and calls us along the path of life, a love rooted in an absolutely free gift of God..........every specific vocation is in fact born of the initiative of God......He is the One who takes the 'first step' and not because he has found something good in us but because of the presence of his owm love 'poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.'

"In every age, the source of the divine call is to be found in the initiative of the infinite love of God, who reveals himself fully in Jesus Christ. As I wrote in my first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, "God is indeed visible in a number of ways. In the love-story recounted by the Bible, he comes towards us, he seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the Last Supper, to the piercing of his heart on the Cross, to his appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the Apostles, he guided the nascent Church along its path. Nor has the Lord been absent from subsequent Church history: he encounters us ever anew, in the men and women who reflect his presence, in his word, in the sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist" (No. 17)."

"These two expressions of the one divine love must be lived with a particular intensity and purity of heart by those who have decided to set out on the path of vocation discernment towards the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life; they are its distinguishing mark. Love of God, which priests and consecrated persons are called to mirror, however imperfectly, is the motivation for answering the Lord's call to special consecration through priestly ordination or the profession of the evangelical counsels. Saint Peter's vehement reply to the Divine Master: "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you" (Jn 21:15) contains the secret of a life fully given and lived out, and thus one which is deeply joyful.
The other practical expression of love, that towards our neighbour, and especially those who suffer and are in greatest need, is the decisive impulse that leads the priest and the consecrated person to be a builder of communion between people and a sower of hope. The relationship of consecrated persons, and especially of the priest, to the Christian community is vital and becomes a fundamental dimension of their affectivity. The Curé of Ars was fond of saying: "Priests are not priests for themselves, but for you" (Le cure d'Ars. Sa pensée - Son cœur, Foi Vivante, 1966, p. 100)."

The full text of Pope Benedict's message can be seen on the Vocations Ireland website.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Homily for the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas

On Saturday 28th last, the community at our studium at Saint Saviour's Priory, Dominick Street in Dublin celebrated the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas. During the Mass to celebrate the feast day, the regent of studies of the Irish Dominican province, fr John Harris OP, preached the homily. In it he emphasised the importance of the Eucharist for Saint Thomas and our preparation for the International Eucharistic congress to be held in Dublin this year.

"To sit with him only at our desks and not to kneel with Saint Thomas in adoration is to fail to know Aquinas or to practice seriously the art of theology".

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Redemptoristine nuns celebrate solemn profession

 Sr Lucy Conway OSsR with Fr Gerard Dunne OP after the profession ceremony today
Sr Lucy Conway OSsR of the Redemptoristine community in Drumcondra in Dublin made final (or solemn) profession today during the celebration of the Eucharist at Saint Alphonsus Monsatery. The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin was the principal celebrant of the Mass.

Archbishop Martin preached in his homily on Jesus Christ and friendship but went on to challenge all present and particularly those consecrated religious present with these words: "I believe that the real challenge about religious life and about ministry in the Church is not the falling numbers of vocations but the mediocrity with which so many of us end up being satisfied with. I say this of myself, I say it about bishops and priests and religious. We all need to restore our commitment to and confidence in our calling and the ability to recognise and set aside that which is marginal and much more that which we have built around ourselves just for our comfort and false security. Ours must be a commitment each day and night, of prayer and fasting, a leaving aside all that does not take us beyond ourselves towards Christ."

This was a timely and challenging homily. It would have been an apt choice of words to present to vocation directors and personnel in Ireland. For instance, there has been a significant shift in vocations ministry in the past decade or more from mere recruitment to authentic discernment. The consequence of this shift has really not been fully grasped at all by vocation ministers - in fact most still have to come to terms with it. It is clearly no longer the case that a vocations director can sit in his or her office processing paperwork or hold endless meetings about meetings with their congregations. They just have to rise above that 'mediocrity' and spend quality time with young people and discerners. That demands vast amounts of time to be spent with each potential vocation. Some orders and dioceses still feel that they can not afford to release a person for full-time vocations work. That is a mediocre response to a vital situation. The significant shift from recruitment to discernment suggests that they cannot afford not to.

(Sr Lucy Conway OSsR is a native of Co. Offaly and joined the Redemptoristines in 2007. She previously worked in education. She is the second sister to be solemnly professed in the community in the past 12 months. The community has three other sisters in initial formation.)