Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dominican Connect - February 2013 issue

The latest edition (February 2013) of 'Dominican Connect - from the Vocations Office of the Irish Dominican Friars' has just been published. It will be available in all our Dominican churches and centres from this weekend.

This new edition has articles on the upcoming jubilee celebrating 800 years of the founding of the Dominican friars, vocation news of the Dominican family in Ireland, advance notice of news and events that are upcoming. This month the 'featured friar' is fr Ben Moran OP.

Should you wish to download an electronic copy of this new edition, you can do so by clicking on the link:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dominican Nuns Drogheda - Vocation Weekends

The Dominican nuns at Siena Convent Drogheda, County Louth have organised a number of vocation weekends during the coming year. These 'formal' weekends are provided for single women who are attracted to the way of life of the sisters. Apart from the dates below, other weekends can be arranged by contacting the vocations promoter Sr Mairead OP.

The scheduled dates for these monastic weekends are as follows:

February 15th to 17th, 2013
March 8th to 10th, 2013
April 26th to 28th, 2013
May 17th to 19th, 2013
September 13th to 15th, 2013
October 25th to 27th, 2013

Further information can be had by contacting Sr Mairead OP, Monastery of Saint Catherine of Siena, The Twenties, Drogheda, Co. Louth. Tel +353 (0)41 983 8524; Email: or visit and 

The video above is a talk on vocational discernment by Sr Mary Theresa OP, of the Siena Convent community in Drogheda.

Monday, January 28, 2013

800,000 kms and counting.....

As I travelled to Cork this past weekend, I noticed that the I had just passed the 100,000 km mark according to the odometer in my less than 2 year old car. It got me thinking about the amount of travel that I have undertaken over the past 12 years for vocations ministry. My conservative estimate is 800,000 km (that's road mileage and doesn't count air miles!).

Travelling is a feature of vocations ministry that is often overlooked, but is essential. Visiting candidates and enquirers all over the country and abroad, going to promotional events, attending endless but important meetings and being available at all times for this work means that a large proportion of time is spent 'on the road'.

While it can be tiring and exhausting, the benefits that accrue from travelling to all these events can be substantial. The opportunity to speak to people about vocation and the possibility of engaging in all sorts of conversation about the call of God to human hearts is a most humbling and enriching experience.

Vocation directors ought always be available, willing, and ready to give the time and energy necessary for this important aspect of a specialised ministry.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reasons to consider religious life

The Catholic church in America has just concluded it's annual 'Vocation Awareness Week'. The 'week' originated in 1976. It is a week-long celebration of the Catholic Church in the United States dedicated to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew their prayers and support for those who are considering one of these particular vocations. As part of the education segment about religious vocations, the video above was produced to demonstrate the many reasons that men and women have joined religious life. It's interesting to note how many are drawn to the life by the witness of some of the members of the congregation.

There seems to me to be no reason whatever why we can't hold a similar yearly vocations awareness week in Ireland. Anyone interested?

50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations - April 21, 2013

The 50th annual world day of prayer for vocations takes place on the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday) - April 21st, 2013.

This important annual event in the life of the Church was instituted during the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI as a means of inviting Catholics throughout the world to pray for vocations to priesthood and religious life.

Now, 50 years on, and during the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict has written a message to coincide with the day of prayer this year. The theme of his message is "Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith." and the thrust of what the Holy Father has to say is to remind us that God continues to call people to work in the vineyard and that we must continue to pray and trust in our ultimate hope - which is God himself. The full text of the Pope's message can be found here.

This extract from the message of Pope Benedict will, I am sure, resonate with vocations personnnel and those interested in answering the call of the Lord in faith:
Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life are born out of the experience of a personal encounter with Christ, out of sincere and confident dialogue with him, so as to enter into his will. It is necessary, therefore, to grow in the experience of faith, understood as a profound relationship with Jesus, as inner attentiveness to his voice which is heard deep within us. This process, which enables us to respond positively to God’s call, is possible in Christian communities where the faith is lived intensely, where generous witness is given of adherence to the Gospel, where there is a strong sense of mission which leads people to make the total gift of self for the Kingdom of God, nourished by recourse to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and by a fervent life of prayer. This latter “must on the one hand be something very personal, an encounter between my intimate self and God, the living God. On the other hand it must be constantly guided and enlightened by the great prayers of the Church and of the saints, by liturgical prayer, in which the Lord teaches us again and again how to pray properly.” (Spe Salvi, 34).
The Irish Dominicans will mark the 50th world day of prayer for vocations in a special way this year. Details in the coming weeks.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Vocations prayer initiative reaches Newry

 This Newry family admire the icon of Saint Dominic in Saint Catherine's this past weekend.

Our ongoing prayer initiative for vocations is now entering it's second year! Launched in January 2012, the initiative using the specially commissioned icon of Saint Dominic has now reached our Dominican church of Saint Catherine in Newry, County Down. The community attached to Saint Catherine's is the only community of Dominican friars in Northern Ireland.

The vocations director preached at all Masses in our Newry church this past weekend and introduced the prayer campaign/initiative to the people attending. As is now usual, the icon of Saint Dominic will remain in our community church in Saint Catherine's for the next number of weeks - and provide a focus for those who worship in the local area to take up the task for praying for Dominican vocations.

Since the launch of this latest prayer initiative last year, several hundred new people are now praying daily for vocations to the Dominican Order in Ireland. The original purpose for this campaign to broaden the base of the number of people praying for vocations has already been achieved, and we are more than fortunate to see the results of the initiative. Our enquiries about the Dominican vocation remain positive and continue to grow. The prayer campaign has only yet reached just over a third of the Dominican locations in Ireland and we look forward to it's continuation in the year ahead.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Vocation Weekends in 2013

Vocation weekends are being organised for enquirers about the Dominican way of life in the next number of weeks. The first such weekend is scheduled for the weekend of January 25th to 27th in our novitiate community at Saint Mary's Priory, Pope's Quay, Cork. Although this weekend is fully subscribed, applications to attend will be considered should a participant have to opt out. To reserve a place on our waiting list, please contact the vocations director at or as soon as possible.

A second weekend is scheduled for the weekend of March 8th to 10th in either our novitiate community in Cork or our studentate community in Saint Saviour's in Dublin. Applications are now being considered for this weekend by contacting the vocations director by clicking the email links above.

Vocation weekends are an invaluable opportunity for enquirers to meet with the friars in one of our formation communities. The weekend experience also encourages the participants to live the regular life of the community - to pray, recreate, study and observe the mission of the community at first hand. 

Irish Dominican Vocations: 2012, The Year Reviewed

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!