Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 - a good year for Irish Dominican Vocations

In the final hours of 2010, it is appropriate to look back at the year that is coming to a close. By any standard, this was a very good year for Irish Dominican Vocations. The Irish Dominican friars celebrated three priestly ordinations during the year, received the simple profession of eleven of our brothers, and clothed three men in the habit of the Order. Currently there are twenty men in formation (at various stages) for the Dominican Order in Ireland. It has been many years since there has been such a number of young friars engaged in the process of being formed for Dominican life and preaching. We thank God for this.

Enquiries from those interested in the Dominican way of life remain at a high level. In the past twelve months, there were 52 new enquiries about the vocation, life and work of the Dominicans in Ireland. This number compares very favourably with the previous three years. Most enquiries come from Ireland, with a number of overseas enquiries also - particularly from Britain and the United States. The obvious knock-on effect from this high level of enquiries is that there are a significant number of people to be accompanied through a vocational discernment process, normally about 25 men are met on a monthly basis.

Promotion of the Dominican vocation is key to the ongoing strategy of creating a culture of vocations for the Irish Dominican friars. To that end, there has been a number of visits to third-level educational institutes in the past 12 months. Along with this, there has been a new collection of visually attractive advertising posters, free-standing banners and other materials made available to our communities, churches and centres - these are currently being distributed. Much work has been done in the preparation of a vocations website for the Irish Dominican friars - and this is due to launch early in the new year. A specially commissioned icon of Saint Dominic, which is now complete, will form the focus of a major 'prayer initiative' for Dominican vocations in 2011. More on this in the next couple of weeks.

Collaboration between the various elements of the Dominican family in Ireland (friars, sisters, contemplative nuns and lay Dominicans) has been very fruitful and beneficial to all over the past twelve months - particularly in the very successful Dominican Family vocations day which is now an annual event. Combined with this is the yearly publication of a Dominican family calendar. Irish Dominican Vocations is very pleased with the renewal of growth of the Dominican laity - several young people are expressing an interest in this form of Dominican life. The Dominican nuns at Siena Convent, Drogheda had cause to clebrate also during the past year with the final profession of Sr Niamh Muireann OP. As is regularly stated on this blog, the friars of the Order are very grateful for the prayerful support of our nuns.

Prayer for vocations to the Order is the single most important act that is carried out, because without prayer there will be no vocations at all. In my travels, I encounter individuals and groups who pray every single day for Dominican vocations. The number of individuals and groups praying for vocations has increased dramatically over the past few years - there has been a corresponding increase in vocations to the Order. I wonder why?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas

Irish Dominican Vocations would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers of this blog a very happy and holy Christmas. 

The child Jesus born in the manger, with His arms outstretched embraces the whole world with His love.  The love of the infant Jesus reminds us of the greatness of the hope which God offers us on Christmas Day. And it is on that same hope that we followers of Jesus Christ constantly depend.

I would also like to thank the very many people who in a variety of ways have contributed to the work of promoting and discerning the voaction of the Dominican friars in Ireland during the past twelve months. I am deeply indebted. And finally, to the 26,500 people who logged on to this blog since last Christmas - please keep the Irish Dominican friars in your thoughts and prayers.

Fr Gerard OP

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The 'O' Antiphons - Dominican Nuns Drogheda

The Dominican nuns at Siena Monastery, Drogheda, Co Louth are the only community of monastic Dominican nuns in Ireland. Their life of prayer, contemplation, study and community is a vital witness of the Dominican Order in Ireland. The friars of the Irish Dominican province receive huge support from the prayers of the nuns and we are very much in their debt. As vocations promoter for the friars in Ireland, I try as much as possible to highlight the vocation of our nuns in Droegheda as well. In trying to promote their way of life during this season of Advent, I am posting videos of the nuns singing the beautiful 'O' antiphons which are chanted in the ocatve before Christmas. The 'O' antiphons refer to the seven antiphons that are recited (or chanted) preceding the Magnificat during Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours. They cover the special period of Advent preparation known as the Octave before Christmas, Dec. 17-23, with Dec. 24 being Christmas Eve and Vespers for that evening being for the Christmas Vigil. The videos also include some still photos of the life and work of the Dominican nuns at Siena monastery. For more information see or

Monday, December 20, 2010

Diaconate Ordinations for Irish Dominican friars

Three of our student brothers in formation, frs Dennis Murphy OP, Maurice Colgan OP and Brian Doyle OP will be ordained deacons on January 2nd 2011 in Saint Saviour's Dominican church, Upper Dominick Street, Dublin 1 during the conventaul Mass at 11.30 a.m. The Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland Dr Diarmuid Martin will ordain our three brothers.

The ministry of the deacon in the Catholic Church is described as one of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity. The deacon's ministry of the Word includes proclaiming the Gospel during the Mass, preaching and teaching. His liturgical ministry includes various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon, including being an ordinary minister of Holy Communion and the proper minister of the chalice when Holy Communion is administered under both kinds. The ministry of charity involves service to the poor and marginalized and working with parishioners to help them become more involved in such ministry. As clerics, they are required to recite the Liturgy of the Hours. Deacons, like priests and bishops, are ordinary ministers of the sacrament of Baptism and can serve as the church's witness at the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which the bride and groom administer to each other (though if the exchange of vows takes place in a wedding Mass, or Nuptial Mass, the Mass is celebrated by the priest and the deacon acts as another witness). Deacons may preside at funeral rites not involving a Mass (e.g., the final commendation at the gravesite or the reception of the body at a service in the funeral home), and may assist the priest at the Requiem Mass. They can preside over various services such as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and they may give certain blessings. They cannot hear confession and give absolution, anoint the sick, or celebrate Mass.

Please pray for our brothers as they prepare to take on this ministry as deacons and continue to pray for all our brothers in formation for the Irish Dominican friars.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

US Catholic church celebrates Vocation Awareness Week - and so should Ireland!

For the past 34 years, the Catholic church in the USA has been celebrating Vocation Awareness Week as a means to urge Catholics (and especially young Catholics) to think about priesthood and religious life. The week designated for 2011, which is well organised and well promoted, begins on January 9th (the feast of the baptism of the Lord - which marks the beginning of his public ministry) and concludes on January 15th. What I find interesting and encouraging about how the American church goes about promoting this awareness campaign is that it is unashamedly concerned with vocation to priesthood, religious life and consecrated life. There is no ambiguity about the purpose of the vocation that they are highlighting! A great deal of effort is made to get parishes, families, dioceses involved through prayer and education programmes.

Would such an awareness week, that was primarily focused on promoting priestly and religious vocation,work in Ireland? I'd like to think so, but would be concerned that we'd get politically correct and have to broaden the scope to include the vocation of all. And by that time, then we would have lost the focus. However, I do believe that those involved in vocations ministry in Ireland should take the initiative and begin exploring the possibility. We had a 'Year of Vocation' a couple of years ago - it could be another 25 years before another such year comes around. The vocations situation in Ireland demands a faster response than that - our vocation strategy (if it exists at all!) needs a yearly injection similar to the United States model. Any takers?

The US Vocation Awareness Week has good resources at the website of the American Catholic bishops and also at 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dominican Family Ireland - Calendar 2011

One of the ongoing initiatives of the vocations personnel of the Dominican family in Ireland (the contemplative nuns in Drogheda, the Dominican sisters of the Cabra congregation, the friars of the Irish province and the lay Dominicans) is the production of a calendar each year to promote the four 'branches' of the family. It is produced by our Dominican nuns in Siena Monastery in Drogheda. It is an ideal gift at this time of year as Christmas approaches. The calendar is currently being distributed to all the Dominican centres in Ireland. However, as not everyone who would like to have a copy will be able to receive one and if you would like one of these Dominican family calendars, please let me know and I will get a copy to you quickly. As always, the email is

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Upcoming Vocation Weekends

The Irish Dominican friars are arranging some vocation weekends in the new year. Usually, these weekends are by invitation to those who are being accompanied by the vocations director for a period of time. However, since the proposed weekends are some time away, there is an opportunity to claim a place on some of these weekends if you are interested in our way of life by making contact with the vocations director soon. The dates for these 'live-in' or 'come and see' weekends are as follows:

21st to 23rd January 2011
25th to 27th February 2011
18th to 20th March 2011

Vocation weekends are designed to give participants an opportunity to live for a weekend with one of our communities in Ireland, to take a full and active part in the prayer and communal events of the friars, to meet many of the brothers (especially those in formation), to ask as many questions as you have about Dominican life and to experience the work and ministry of Dominican friars in Ireland. There will also be some input on our life by some of the brethren.  Many of our younger brothers now in formation have found these weekends to be of great help in their discernment. For more information, please contact me (vocations director) by email

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dominicans go Snow-Mad!

Unseasonably early snow in Dublin is having a strange effect on the Dominican friars at our student house, Saint Saviour's in Dublin as you will see in this video. Thankfully, none of the friars were injured in the making of this production!! It brought to mind though, that joy and frivolity really have to be part of the spiritual life - and if you don't believe me, here's what Saint Thomas Aquinas had to say to those who lacked a bit of joy: 'Those who are lacking in fun, and who never say anything funny or humorous, but instead give grief to those who make jokes, not accepting even the modest fun of others, are morally unsound, and in view of the philisopher (Aristotle), are rough and boorish. Enjoy!!