Friday, June 29, 2012

Vocations Director

Today, the friars of the Irish Dominican province reappointed me as vocations director for a fourth four year term. I consider it a tremendous honour and privilege to carry out this ministry. I hope that the next four years will be as enjoyable as the previous twelve have been.

Please pray for me but above all for vocations to the Irish Dominican friars and the Dominican family in Ireland.

Fr Gerard OP

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Why Join the Dominicans?

Some of our student friars pictured with our Dominican nuns from Drogheda at the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin recently. (Pic courtesy of

As I come to the end of my third term in office as vocations director for the Irish Dominican friars, I have been reflecting - as one might at a time like this - what has kept me going during that period and why men and women continue to join the Dominicans? So many things have encouraged me to be honest - most notably the encouragement of my Dominican brethren. Without them, I would not have been able to succeed or remain motivated. In those years, the men who have knocked on our door wanting to know more about the Dominicans have given me the greatest joy. Many knock and never enter, but they brought enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and a desire to know where God was calling them to. Then, with God's help, many have joined the Order during that period - a tremendous blessing to the Irish Dominicans. This has kept me going! People join the Order for a variety of reasons - but ultimately they do so to serve God in the way of Dominic because they have been captivated by the variety of ways in which the Dominican vocation is lived out.

One of the best reflections on those who join the Order has been offered by the former Master of the Order - fr Timothy Radcliffe. In a letter to the brothers in formation during his term of office he sets out clearly the healthy tension that can exist when men present themselves to the Order. It is in italics below and well worth a read.

Many who come to the Order today, especially in the West, have made a different pilgrimage, growing 
up far from Christianity. Perhaps now you wish to celebrate and affirm the faith you have embraced 
and come to love. You wish to be seen as Dominicans, for that too belongs to the preaching. It can be 
just the same evangelical impulse which leads some brethren to put on the habit and others to take it 
This tension is ultimately fruitful and necessary for the vitality of the Order. Accepting the young into 
the Order challenges us. Just as the birth of a child changes the life of the whole family, so each 
generation of young who come to us change the brotherhood. You come with your questions to which 
we have not always got the answers, with your ideals, which may reveal our inadequacies, your 
dreams which we may not share. You come with your friends and your families, your cultures and 
your tribes. You come to disturb us, and that is why we need you. Often you come demanding what is 
indeed central to our Dominican life, but which we may have forgotten or belittled: a more profound 
and beautiful common prayer; a deeper fraternity in which we care more for each other, the courage 
to leave behind our old commitments and take to the road again. Often the Order is renewed because 
the young come to us and insist on trying to build the Dominican life that they have read about in 
books! Go on insisting! 
It is easy for us who came before you to say, with some irritation: “You are joining us; we are not 
joining you.” This is indeed true, but only half so. For when we joined the Order, we gave ourselves 
into the hands of the brethren who were still to come. We pledged obedience to those who were not 
born. It is true that we do not have to reinvent the Order in each generation, but part of Dominic’s 
genius was to found an Order that has adaptation and flexibility as part of its being. We need to be 
renewed by those who have been caught by enthusiasm for Dominic’s vision. We must not recruit you 
to fight our old battles. We have to resist the temptation to box you into the categories of our youth, 
and label you as “conservatives” or “progressives”, just as you have to refrain from dismissing us as 
relics of “the seventies”.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Just Published: 'In The Grip Of Light' - Paul Murray OP

Irish Dominican friar, Paul Murray OP, has just published his latest book. Entitled In The Grip of Light - The Dark And Bright Journey Of Christian Contemplation this latest work by fr Paul draws attention to the wisdom and experience of those men and women in the Christian tradition who have come close to the presence of God. Drawing on the writings of authors of Saint Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart and Teresa of Avila he charts how their words can, in some way, explain the nature of the experience of the presence of God and how their writings can speak to our generation.

Fr Paul is a prolific author in the area of spiritual theology, is a renowned authority on T S Eliot and the author of many collections of poetry. This latest book is based on public lectures given in London, Washington and Oxford. The final chapter of the book on contemplative prayer in the Dominican tradition will appeal to Dominicans everywhere. That chapter deals with the beginnings of Dominican spirituality and will help the reader to, as fr Paul says, to have 'that near compulsion to pass on to others things we ourselves have contemplated (which) should be a notable characteristic of every Dominican.'

This excellent book is published by Bloomsbury and is available in Ireland through Veritas bookshops.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

90 year old Irish Dominican friar publishes latest book

One of Ireland's better known Dominican friars, Fr Gabriel Harty OP, who is in his ninety first year, has just published his latest book! Entitled 'Heaven Sent - My Life Through the Rosary' it is a book rich in the treasures of the rosary.

Fr Gabriel, who was a diocesan priest before joining the Irish Dominicans in 1950, has spent all his priestly life as a preacher of the rosary. This latest book sets out how the rosary is not only a contemplative prayer but a means of proclaiming scripture - 'the Gosepl on its knees' as the famous French Dominican Lacordaire once said of the rosary. Fr Gabriel also demonstrates how the term 'rosary' is not confined to Roman Catholicism and its method of meditation has certain aspects common to many faiths.

The book is also autobigraphical and reading it gives a real sense of the story of this friar's life in relation to the rosary, his cultivation and devotion to it and a deep exposition of the healing and grace for all who pray this great prayer.

A brief paragraph from a chapter entitled The Dominican Tradition of the Rosary will give the reader an insight of the importance for Fr Gabriel of the rosary as a means of preaching for Dominicans. It goes like this:

'When a Dominican is clothed with the habit, he is invested with a large rosary beads to hang from his belt. He is like an army officer commissioned with a sword of office, as was David when given the very sword with which he had slain Goliath: "There is no other sword like that; give it to me." Any good preacher of the rosary is meant to use it not only for his own private prayer, but as an instrument of his missionary work and as a weapon for salvation. There is none like it.'

Warm congratulations to Fr Gabriel on his latest book. Along with many others, this blogger hopes to get the opportunity to read more from the pen of our brother in the not too distant future. For those interested in the Dominican vocation, the inspiration of friars like Fr Gabriel serve as a reminder that friars never retire!!

Heaven Sent - My Life Through The Rosary is available from Veritas

Friday, June 8, 2012

Irish Dominican friars elect new provincial

The brethren at the provincial chapter of the Irish Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) have elected fr Gregory Carroll OP as provincial.

A native of Naas, County Kildare, fr Gregory entered the Dominican novitiate in Cork in 1966 and made first profession the following year. He was ordained priest in 1973.

Since ordination, Fr Gregory has ministered in Ireland and Trinidad and Tobago and has served as prior, superior, parish priest, novice master, student master, director of vocations and provincial bursar.

Fr Gregory's term of office is four years.

Irish Dominican Vocations congratulates fr Gregory on his election and asks that you pray for him as he takes up this important task for the Irish Dominicans.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nashville Dominicans visit Saint Saviour's, Dublin.

A large number of people gathered in Saint Saviour's Dominican priory in Dublin this evening to meet with some members of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia (better known as the Nashville Dominican sisters). In an uplifting and joyful presentation, the sisters talked about their congregation (which is over 150 years old), their life and ministry. They also talked about the New Evangelisation and their understanding of their role in the promotion of this as a congregation.

One of the sisters who was at the meeting is a postulant in the congregation and hails from Wexford. Clare Kavanagh (on the left in the photo above) joined the sisters last year having studied pharmacy in Dublin. For this blogger, it gave great satisfaction to hear Clare's vocation story. It was a brief entry on the Nashville Dominican sisters on this blog that prompted Clare to contact the sisters in the first instance. Later in the summer, she hopes to become a novice in the Order.

There was a lively question and answer session with the sisters followed by informal chat over tea and refreshments to conclude.

I have met a number of Nashville Dominicans over the past number of years. The one thing that always strikes me about them is their joy. It is clear that that joy which they radiate is deeply rooted in a love for Christ. It is quite infectious and it is easy to see why they attract so many vocations. May God continue to bless them and their powerful witness to Dominican life.

For more on the Dominican sisters of Saint Cecilia, please visit:

Irish Dominican Friars - Provincial Chapter 2012

 Saint Mary's Dominican Priory, Tallaght, Co. Dublin.

The 2012 Provincial Chapter of the Irish Dominican friars runs from today, June 4th 2012.

Taking place in St Mary's Priory, Tallaght, Dublin 24 (pictured above; link to the priory's website:, thirty members of the province, comprising some local superiors and other brothers elected democratically as delegates, will take part in the chapter which is due to elect a new provincial at the conclusion of Fr Patrick Lucey's two terms in that position.

The chapter will also include a brief "assembly" of all the brothers of the province who wish to take part in it as a lead-in discussion before the work of the chapter begins in earnest.

A provincial chapter, which in every province of the Dominican Order is usually held every four years, not only elects a new provincial, it makes appointments to some of the major positions in the province such as the Regent of Studies, the Moderators of local centres of studies, Masters of students and novices, bursar (concerned with economic matters) of the province, Director of Vocations, among others.

It is also possible for a provincial chapter to choose to discuss and make decisions on important projects and developments, new ventures or to discontinue some present endeavours.

Please pray for the success of the 2012 Irish Dominican provincial chapter.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Conclusion of Academic Year 2011-12 with Apostolic Nuncio

 The student brothers pictured with the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland and the Regent of Studies and Master of Students
The current academic year for our brothers in formation has come to a conclusion today, June 2nd, 2012 with the celebration of the Eucharist. The principal celebrant and homilist at the Mass was the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, his excellency Archbishop Charles Brown. In his remarks during the homily, Archbishop Brown thanked the Irish Dominican friars (particularly the prior provincial, the prior of Saint Saviour's and the Regent of Studies for the Irish Dominicans) for the kind invitation to mark the end of the academic year with them. He also noted the many Dominican influences on his life and encouraged the younger brothers of the Irish province in their vocation. He said that the Dominican vocation was essential to the life of the Church. He also asked for the prayers of the brethren gathered at the Mass to pray for him and his ministry in Ireland.

Now that the student brothers have completed their academic year, they will be involved in pastoral engagements throughout the summer months along with some time for holidays. More immediately, they will take part in the assembly of the provincial chapter of the Irish Dominicans which begins next week and then be involved in the 50th Eucharistic Congress which takes place in Dublin in just over a week.

Please continue to pray for all our brothers in formation and for vocations to the Dominican friars in Ireland.