Sunday, March 30, 2014

International meeting of Dominican vocation promoters and formators

I am currently at a meeting in Saint Louis, Missouri of Dominican vocations promoters and formators from the four American provinces, Argentina, England and Canada. These days have been devoted to sharing our experiences and ideas with a view to looking forward to how we can best serve those who are considering a vocation to the Order and also how to accompany more effectively our brothers in formation.

It has been a very fraternal and helpful meeting for all us - with a real sense of solidarity between our respective provinces and the work that we are tasked to do on behalf of the Order in our countries.

We do not often ask for your prayers for our work as vocation directors or formators, but as we spend this time reflecting on doing the work of the Lord, perhaps you could spare a prayer for all us. We need them as indeed the Order does too.

(Thanks to fr Benedict Croell OP for use of the picture above)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Conversations on John Paul II - the 'new evangelization'

Our student brothers along with the Regent of Studies of the Irish province fr John Harris OP are recording conversations in memory of Blessed John Paul II.

The first conversation focuses on the "New Evangelisation" - a term first coined by the late Pope.

Four of our student brothers took part - Bro Matthew Farrell, Bro Philip Mulryne, Br Michael O Dubhghaill and Bro Matthew Martinez.

To follow the upcoming conversations on John Paul II, follow and the vocations website

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dominican Family Vocations Day - April 5th - register now!

The 6th annual Dominican family vocations day takes place on Saturday, April 5th in Saint Saviour's Dominican Priory, Dorset Street, Dublin 1. It is important to register by March 28th if you wish to attend. To do so, please contact Sr Niamh OP (Dominican nuns, Drogheda) on (041)9838524 or by sending her an email with your details to

As advertised, this day is a great opportunity to find out more about the vocation of the lay Dominicans, the apostolic Dominican sisters (Cabra congregation), the Dominican contemplative nuns at Siena monastery in Drogheda and the Dominican friars. You will get the chance to meet with the various members of the Dominican family and to ask them those burning questions about their Dominican vocation - and yours!

This year, we are delighted to welcome back Dr Andrew O' Connell (communications officer for the Presentation Brothers, journalist and commentator) as our keynote speaker for what will be a lively and informative presentation. A member of each branch of the Dominican family will give reflections and input on their own vocation. Participants will also be afforded the opportunity to pray with us, enjoy the hospitality of the friars at Saint Saviour's and to conclude the day with the celebration of the Eucharist.

So, book now to avoid disappointment!!

A note from Australia

I have been visiting Australia as part of a holiday for the past month and enjoying the hospitality of the Dominican friars based in East Camberwell in Melbourne. Before this holiday, I would have been aware of the connection between the Irish and Australian Dominican provinces and the many friars (and sisters) who were responsible for the building of the presence of the Order over the past 115 years. Therefore it is a great joy to see the Australian province now as it continues its mission of preaching here. The missionary spirit of the province extends to New Zealand, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea and the brothers are engaged in a variety of different apostolates and missions.

Like much of Western Europe and Ireland, the Australian Dominicans have seen a decrease in vocations to the Order in the past number of decades. However, a presence in chaplaincies in universities that the Order is associated with has seen a resurgence of interest in the ministry and vocation of the friars. The Australian province now has a number of men in formation and just before I arrived here, the province accepted four men (pictured below) into their postulancy programme (pre-novitiate). This is very positive news for them.

As a member of the province that was in some way responsible for the foundation of the Australian Dominicans, there is a deep sense of pride in the contribution that the Irish friars have made here. As the visit to Australia comes to a close, I am earnestly praying for and increase in vocations to both our provinces so that the mission of preaching and the proclamation of the Gospel will continue well into the future.

Finally, a word of grateful thanks to my Australian brothers for the warmth of their hospitality and friendship which will linger long in my memory.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

First anniversary of election of Pope Francis - his words on vocations.

Today marks the first anniversary of the election of Pope Francis. During the course of the past year, he has written and commented on the theme of vocation a number of times. It is worth recounting some of these contributions today - and we hope for more inspiration from the Holy Father in the coming years.

From his Angelus message on April 21st, 2013 - the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Vocations Sunday):

"Behind and before every vocation to the priesthood or to the consecrated life there is always the strong and intense prayer of someone: a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community...This is why Jesus said: 'Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest,' that is God the Father, 'to send labourers into his harvest.' (Matthew 9:38) Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer, and only through prayer can they persevere and bear fruit. I am pleased to stress this today which is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Let us invoke the intercession of Mary who is the woman of the 'yes'. Mary said 'yes' throughout her life! She learned to recognise Jesus' voice from the time she carried him in her womb. May Mary, our Mother, help us to know Jesus' voice better and better and to follow it, so as to walk the path of life!"

In his homily to seminarians, novices and those discerning their vocation - July 7th, 2013:

"Dear seminarians, dear novices, dear young people discerning your vocations. One of you, one of your formators said to me the other day: 'evangelisation is done one one's knees.' Listen well: 'evangelisation is done on one's knees.' Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. But for what do you work? As a tailor, a cook a priest, is your job being a priest, being a sister?  No, it is not a job but rather being something else. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and heavy duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ's heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of pastoral fruitfulness, of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord!"

In his encyclical letter Lumen Fidei, June 29th, 2013:

"In the family, faith accompanies every age of life, beginning with childhood: children learn to trust in the love of their parents. This is why it is so important that within their families parents encourage shared expressions of faith which can help children gradually to mature in their own faith. Young people in particular, who are going through a period in their lives which is so complex, rich and important for their faith, ought to feel the constant closeness and support of families and the Church in their journey of faith. We have all seen, through World Youth Days, the joy that young people show in their faith and their desire for an ever more solid and generous life of faith. Young people want to live life to the fullest. Encountering Christ, letting themselves be caught up in and guided by his love, enlarges the horizons of existence, gives it a firm hope which will not disappoint. Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God's faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Pope Francis on the need to pray for vocations

Last week, Pope Francis  asked the faithful to pray for vocations, so that God may send priests and nuns whose hearts are for Him only; free from the idolatry of vanity, of power and of wealth.
Speaking during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on March 3rd, Pope Francis took his cue from the Gospel reading of day which tells of a rich man who ran up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and asked him what he should do to inherit eternal life. This man – the Pope said – really wanted to hear what Jesus had to say. “He was a good man, a man who had observed the commandments from his youth, but this was not enough for him, he wanted more. The Holy Spirit was pushing him further”. Jesus looked at him, loved him and said to him: ‘Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor; then come, follow me’. At that statement, his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions:
“His heart was restless, because the Holy Spirit was pushing him to get closer to Jesus and to follow him. But his heart was full and he lacked the courage to empty it. He made his choice: money. His heart was full of money…. But he was not a thief, or a criminal: no, no, no! He was a good man: he had never stolen! He had never cheated anyone: his money had been earned honestly. But his heart was imprisoned, it was attached to money and he lacked the freedom to choose. Money chose for him”.
How many young people – Pope Francis continued – feel this call to get close to Jesus within their hearts, and they are enthusiastic about it. “They are not ashamed to kneel before Him” and to “publically show their faith in Jesus Christ” and “they want to follow Him, but when their hearts are full of something else and they lack the courage to empty their hearts, they turn back and their joy becomes sadness”. There are many young people today – Pope Francis said – who have a vocation, but sometimes there is something that stops them:
“We must pray so that the hearts of these young people may be emptied, emptied of other interests and other sentiments, so that they may become free. This is the prayer for vocations. ‘Lord, send us nuns and send us priests, defend them from idolatry, the idolatry of vanity, the idolatry of pride, the idolatry of power, the idolatry of money’. This prayer of ours is to prepare these hearts so that they are able to follow Jesus closely”.

The man described in the Gospel reading – the Pope said – is “such a good man and then he is so sad”. Today there are many young people like him. This is why we must pray intensely to God:
“Lord, help these young people so that they may be free, not slaves, so that their hearts be for You only; so that the call of the Lord can be heard and can bear fruit. This is the prayer for vocations. We must pray a lot. But we must be careful: there are vocations. We must help them to grow, so that the Lord can enter into those hearts and give this indescribable and glorious joy that belongs to every person who follows Jesus closely”.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Letter from Master of the Order on 'The Dominican Laity and Preaching'.

As part of the lead up to the 800th anniversary of the foundation of the Order in 2016, the Master fr Bruno has written a letter to the Order on the 'Dominican Laity and Preaching'.

It is an extensive letter for all the members of the Order the Master sets out the primary purpose of all Dominicans embodied in the motto 'sent to preach the Gospel'. Fr Bruno notes that while the motto is simple it focuses our attention on what is at the heart of the service that the Church expects of the Order: to proclaim the Gospel.

Here are some helpful quotations from the letter:

"The unity of our Order is in fact given by its evangelising mission: laity, sisters and friars of the Order are members of a single family whose identity is that they were sent to preach the gospel. Or rather, we might say that the 'Dominican' identity is precisely that of a family - of a 'communion' - constituted by this organic bond between evangelisation and the contemplation of that truth that is the living Word that has come into the world, what we try to develop in the three forms of prayer, study and fraternity, each in the specific manner of his/her state in life."

"Among these Lay Dominicans, the members of these Lay Dominican Fraternities clearly have an important place, choosing as they do to commit themselves with a promise to carry out this specific participation in the mission of Christ as members of the Order. They also register their commitment to the living Word not only for the whole of their lives as baptised persons but also within the balance of the whole of their commitments and of their lives which they want to be 'preaching', serving the conversation of God with the world. At the same time, they register for the duration of the life of the Order, the need to preach the Word, always referring this preaching to the constitution of the church of Christ seeking communion and unity. As we know well, today we must reflect on the diversity at the heart of these fraternities, seeking together how we may always best accept, promote and combine this diversity , brought together in a single concrete witness of a lay life that seeks to be preaching."

"It seems to me that lay Dominicans can allow the preaching of the Order to achieve its end more fully in several ways. As in the case of the sisters and friars in the Order, the preaching of lay Dominicans is rooted in the experience of life. This is why the wealth of their specific contribution to the preaching of the Order comes from their experience of family and professional life, their experience of parenthood, their experience of life in the Church, the experience of being young in contemporary society, the particular experience of the baptised person who must testify his/her faith in the midst of a family or a group of friends whom s/he is daily bound by ties of affection but who do not share the same faith and often show no desire to share it....Moreover, they know the difficulty of witnessing the faith in a specific manner: in may places in the contemporary world, the habitual situation of a lay person brings her/him face to face with indifference, scepticism and unbelief, in a very different way from religious, and this must come to enrich the preaching of the Order as a whole. Similarly, through the activities of their professional,  family or political life, lay persons experience how the Christian demands for fraternity and truth, according to which they try to contribute to the transformation of the world, are a form of preaching essentially linked to their state, which comes to be combined with the preaching of the whole 'family of preachers.'"

For the full text of this excellent letter, click on the link: