Monday, July 30, 2012

There Are No Vocations!

When did you last see a picture (click to enlarge) such as the one above? It has been a long time I suspect! The sisters pictured above are Nashville Dominican sisters at a reception following their first profession of vows on July 28th last. You can get a real sense of the uncontained joy of these young women in the photograph. It certainly gives the lie to those who like to shout out loud that 'there are no vocations'!

Some of these Nashville sisters were in Ireland recently and spoke to various groups about their life, ministry and work. The conviction and enthusiasm of their presentations was infectious. It was clear to all who met them that these sisters had a very clear message about their identity, their form of religious life and the ministry that they are involved in. While it is almost impossible to copy or replicate what some religious orders in the United States do to promote vocations - there is no valid reason why religious orders in Ireland can't make a more concerted effort to make their identity known in a practical and meaningful way.

Religious orders of men and women in Ireland have made significant contributions down through the centuries - and continue to do so. Why are we afraid to tell the world about that? Why are we so shy about sharing our joy and enthusiasm for our form of life? Why is it that the only time you will hear a sermon in your local church about vocations will be on the fourth Sunday of Easter (Vocations Sunday) - that's if you hear one at all? Why have the bulk of the religious orders blended in with the rest of society to the point of invisibility? Why have some of the orders taken the decision not to recruit new members in the future?

A lack of urgent response to these questions will almost certainly allow others to declare and shout aloud:  'There are no vocations!'
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