Tuesday, August 28, 2012

'Dominican Connect' - New Vocations Newsletter

The vocations office is pleased to announce that a new monthly vocations newsletter for the Irish Dominican friars has just had its first edition published.

The newsletter will contain news of recent happenings and upcoming events. Dominican Connect will also include a features section in which readers will be able to discover more about our friars, some of our communities and some projects of the Irish Dominican province.

The printed version of the newsletter will be issued monthly and made available in Dominican churches and centres throughout Ireland.

Dominican Connect will also be available in electronic format on the vocations website www.dominicanfriars.ie or by email (subscribe by sending an email to DominicanConnect@DominicanFriars.ie) when it becomes available locally in our churches and centres.

The first issue - September 2012 - can be downloaded now as a pdf document (500kb) by clicking on this link: http://goo.gl/BY0RL

Monday, August 27, 2012

Maynooth seminary numbers are a real cause for concern

Maynooth College - National Seminary
The Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference revealed in a statement yesterday that 12 men will begin studies for the priesthood this year at the national seminary in Maynooth. Although there seems to be some confusion about official figures regarding numbers of seminarians beginning their training in Maynooth for the past number of years, this year's intake will be the lowest number entering the national for some considerable time.

While we naturally congratulate these twelve men for taking this step, there is little that can be done to put a positive spin on what should be a 'good news' story for the Irish church. This small number of entrants is quite worrying and follows a downward trend for the past few years.

Over those years this blog has commented on the numbers entering the national seminary and has consistently praised the work of the diocesan vocation directors around the country. This blog has also questioned the attitude of dioceses about taking the priestly vocation question seriously. There is little evidence to show that the promotion of the vocation to priesthood is a priority in the majority of the dioceses in our country.

There is so much that can and should be done - particularly if we believe that the Lord continues to call labourers to the harvest. For some years now, I have been suggesting and advocating four key strategies to try and deal with this emerging crisis.

Firstly, the dioceses need to begin to think about releasing a priest whose primary task is to promote vocations in that diocese. This is a difficult one considering the huge demands made on diocesan clergy. However, there is enough evidence from various parts of the world to demonstrate that having full-time vocations directors is an important contributor to increasing vocations.

Secondly, dioceses need to create a 'culture of vocations'. This is not something new, but clearly has not been taken seriously in Ireland. Creating a culture of vocations means that a diocese take every opportunity to seriously ask the question of men that they come into contact with whether they have thought of priesthood as a way of serving the Lord. This does not cost anything and has proved to be very effective particularly in some dioceses in the United States and Australia.

Thirdly, dioceses need to pray for vocations. How simple that seems but try and think about how often the opportunity is given to people to pray on a regular basis for vocations. Without being simplistic, if we are not on our knees praying for vocations, then we can be sure that there will be no vocations.

Fourthly, the call to priesthood is a unique calling and should be promoted vigorously. In Ireland, a new culture within the church has emerged where the vocation of the of permanent deacons is often highlighted more vigorously than that of priesthood, where parish pastoral workers are presented as a new form of ministry to point where they are regarded as almost as important as considering vocation to the priesthood. These two examples demonstrate that the call to priesthood is being drowned out while the promotion of other forms of ministry are encouraged. Why are dioceses afraid to promote the vocation to priesthood?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dominican Nuns Drogheda Vocation Weekends

The contemplative Dominican nuns living near Drogheda, Co Louth, have prepared live-in weekend experiences for women who may be interested in becoming a Dominican nun.

Three weekends have been organised for the period before Christmas 2012.

The dates are 14th-16th September, 26th-28th October, 16th-18th November.

For further information, contact Sister Mairéad, Monastery of St Catherine of Siena, The Twenties, Drogheda, Co Louth.

The monastery website: http://www.DominicanNuns.ie

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Dominican Novices - Saint Joseph Province USA

Irish Dominican Vocations sends warm fraternal wishes to the thirteen men (pictured above - click to enlarge) who have been clothed in the habit of the Order for the Saint Joseph Province in the United States. This province of the Order has been consistently attracting many vocations for the past number of years.

The Irish Dominican friars look forward to receiving our new group of novices on September 14th next. Please keep these men in your prayers and please continue to pray for vocations to the friars of the Irish Dominican province.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pope Benedict on the feast of Saint Dominic

Pope Benedict greeting pilgrims today on the feast of Saint Dominic.

Feast of Saint Dominic

Today, Dominicans throughout the world will celebrate on the feast of our founder, Saint Dominic de Guzman. Eight hundred years ago the first foundation of nuns in the south of France was established - the friars were founded ten years later. As a preparation for the 800th anniversary of the founding of the friars, the Order has been putting a strong emphasis on the various facets of the life of Dominic before us as a means to celebrating this milestone in the history of the Order.

Many who consider the Dominican vocation often enquire about Saint Dominic's life and what he is best known for. There are many answers to these questions but it appears to me that the best answer that we as Dominicans can give about our founder is that he was a man of the Gospel. His immediate successor, Blessed Jordan of Saxony said of him that "....everywhere he was seen as a man of the Gospel (vir evangelicus)." So it is a very important and dominant characteristic of Saint Dominic's life. When he set about writing the constitutions of the Order, Dominic described that same attitude of his brothers who were also expected to be "men of the Gospel following in the footsteps of their Saviour." It was this insistence on the preaching of the word of God that gave the Dominican Order the mandate to us the Gospel as a means for preaching and the salvation of souls.

Anyone considering taking up the challenge to live the Dominican form of life must look to Dominic's love of the Gospel as the starting point for their discernment. On this day, our earnest prayer is that this challenge will continue to be a fruitful one. Saint Dominic, pray for us.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Catholic Youth Festival Season

The months of July, August and September each year are eagerly anticipated by many hundreds of young Catholics in Ireland. It is the season of Catholic festivals and conferences. Irish Dominican Vocations is delighted to highlight these events in the hope that it might inspire some readers of this blog to attend.

First up is the annual Youth 2000 Festival which takes place in Clonmacnois, Co. Offaly from August 9th to 12th. The guest speaker this year is Fr Gary Toman of the diocese of Down and Connor. He is the Catholic chaplain at Queens University in Belfast. The papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown will celebrate the closing Mass. This event grows from strength to strength each year and is very popular because of the variety of speakers and workshops. The celebration of the Eucharist, adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the opportunity for confession are at the centre of the festival. For more details, take a look at the Youth 2000 website.


August 12th to 18th sees the 31st annual music and liturgy course take place in the Dominican run Knockadoon camp near Ballymacoda, Co. Cork. This course will be of particular interest to those involved in music ministry in choirs, parishes and churches throughout the country. For more information, consult the website of Knockadoon Music and Liturgy Course.

The Legion of Mary in Ireland are hosting their annual Catholic young adults conference in All Hallows College, Drumcondra, Dublin 9 on September 1st and 2nd. This well supported and well run conference has as its theme this year "A Faith Firm and Immovable as a Rock" and has many excellent speakers including Bishop Eamon Walsh, Ger Brennan (Dublin footballer) and  Anthony Murphy. For further information about the conference you can email catholicyoungadultsconference@gmail.com or take a look at the Legion of Mary website.

Finally, we acknowledge the good work of the very successful Knock Youth Festival which took place on July 28th last!