As 2013 begins, it is good to have a look back at the events and happenings for vocations to the friars of the Irish Dominican province. It was a very busy year. Enquiries to the vocations office remained steady and a number of initiatives were started in the past year. Some of the highlights then are recorded below, month by month.
The prayer initiative for Dominican vocations was launched during this month. Using the specially commissioned icon of Saint Dominic as a focus for the prayer campaign, it was formally launched at the monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena, Drogheda in County Louth. From there it has travelled to our churches in Dundalk, Kilkenny, Cork, Saint Aengus parish Tallaght and Newbridge, Co. Kildare. In the year ahead it will continue to be brought to other Dominican churches and centres as a means of broadening the base of prayer for vocations to the Irish Dominicans.
Cork man Paul Delaney is received as a novice during a simple ceremony at the conventual Mass in Saint Mary's priory church in Pope's Quay, Cork.
Ongoing vocation weekends for those interested in our way of life are held during these early months of the year in both Cork and Dublin.
The principal event during March was the 4th annual Dominican Family Vocations Day. Held in Saint Saviour's, Dublin, this event which is organised for men and women who are interested in the four branches of the Dominican family - lay Dominicans, apostolic sisters, contemplative nuns and friars continues to grow in popularity. 25 participants take part this year.
Collaboration between the various branches of the Order in Ireland is crucial for promoting vocations. Also, within the Order itself there is a growing awareness of the need for networking between the provinces of the friars. During this month, the vocations director is in Holland meeting with other vocation directors from Northern Europe with a view to planning towards the future in vocation promotion together.
This month is also important for the preparation of candidates for admission in the weeks ahead.
Enquiries about the Dominican vocation generally tend to decrease as the summer months begin. However, enquiries during the month of May in 2012 are the highest in some years. Responding promptly and efficiently to new enquirers is of the utmost importance.
Every four years the Irish Dominicans hold their provincial chapter. The primary purpose is to reflect on our lives over the past four years and to plan and legislate for the following four years. Vocation promotion has been a priority for some years and this is endorsed again at the chapter of 2012. Effectively this means that the promotion of vocations to the Order is given priority status for the Irish Dominicans.
Fr Gerard Dunne is reappointed as vocations director for a fourth four year term at the beginning of July.
Applicants for admission for the novitiate are held during this month in an extensive and thorough admissions process. All five applicants are successful and are admitted by the new prior provincial.
Ordinarily August is a relatively quiet month on the vocations front. After holidays, the rest of the month is spent in planning events and schedules for the new academic year which also kick-starts the vocations year.
Dominican Connect - a new newsletter from the vocations office is launched in early September. It will be published eleven times a year carrying new and events about the Irish Dominicans and will have a strong vocational slant.
Five novices are received on September 14th and join Br Paul Delaney in the novitiate - making a total of six novices. The newly received novices are Brs Ronan O Dubhghaill, Adam Conroy, Jesse Maingot, Matthew Farrell and Philip Mulryne.
On the following day, two brothers who had completed their novitiate over the previous twelve months made simple profession. They are Kevin O' Reilly and Fr Murchadh O Madagain.
Much time in vocations promotion is given over to the accompaniment of candidates and meeting new enquirers. However, the vocations director is also involved in promoting the Dominican vocation in third level colleges and institutes of education. Much of the autumn months are given over to this task and especially during this month of October.
Over the last twelve years, there have been approximately 50-60 new vocation enquiries each year. All are met for initial assessment and at any given time there are approximately 20-25 persons who are meeting with the vocations director on a monthly basis for vocational discernment. Enquiries come predominantly from Ireland but a substantial number come from England, Scotland and Wales. These autumnal months involve much travel for the vocations director both at home and abroad.
No review of the year would be complete without acknowledging those responsible for promoting vocations to the other branches of the Order in Ireland. All throughout the year, there are regular meetings with the vocations personnel for the lay Dominicans in Ireland, the Cabra sisters (apostolic) and the contemplative nuns in Drogheda. It is good then to end on a positive note and congratulate the lay Dominicans on the substantial increase in new members during 2012, to wish well in advance the Cabra Dominican sisters who will have two new novices early in 2013 and a first profession in February. Finally, the Dominican nuns in Siena monastery in Drogheda will have one of their sisters make first profession early in February.
As you will see, 2012 was a busy and fruitful year for vocations to the Dominican friars and the extended Dominican family in Ireland. We have so much to be thankful for. We are indebted to God for the blessings he has bestowed upon us. We are so very grateful to all those people who have helped in promoting and praying for vocations. And, of course, to the many readers of this blog - thank you for your support!