Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Irish bishop to make vocations a priority

Bishop Kevin Doran was installed as Bishop of Elphin on Sunday last in Sligo - one of the north western dioceses in Ireland. He is a former vocations director of the Archdiocese of Dublin. In a wide ranging address at the end of the ordination ceremony, Bishop Doran indicated that vocations are one of the key challenges facing his diocese and signalled that they would be a priority for him. In an enterprising move, he challenged the congregation at his episcopal ordination to help address the vocations 'crisis' by identifying six candidates from their own communities and families between now and next Easter.

He also reminded those gathered that 'vocation does not begin when people are teenagers or young adults.....it begins when God calls us into life and when, through baptism, He invites to be members of His family'. He said that it makes no sense to expect that people can be ready to commit to any Christian vocation, marriage, priesthood, religious life or diaconate if they have not first of all been helped to recognise God's invitation in baptism and respond to it.

It's wonderful to hear a new Irish bishop speak in these terms - making vocations a priority. Hopefully his initiative and challenge will bear fruit. Bishop Doran may well change the language around the question of vocation - this can only be a good thing.

Irish Dominican Vocations wish Bishop Kevin well in his ministry in the diocese of Elphin - and are grateful for his contribution to the work of vocations in his previous role as vocations director for the Dublin archdiocese.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Double priestly ordination for Irish Dominican friars

Fr Luuk Jansen OP and Fr Colm Mannion OP

The Irish Dominican friars joyfully celebrated the priestly ordination of two of our brothers yesterday in Saint Saviour's Dominican church in Dublin. Fr Luuk Jansen and Fr Colm Mannion were ordained by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin in a moving ceremony with a packed congregation. The new priests were joined by a large number of Dominican brothers from Ireland and abroad, their families and friends.

Fr Luuk is originally from the Netherlands and discovered the faith through a colleague while working in the west of Ireland. A number of years after being baptised, he entered the Irish Dominican novitiate in Limerick and continued his formation and studies in Dublin which culminated in his ordination as a priest yesterday.

Fr Colm, from Birr in County Offaly, worked with an an international airline and for the Legion of Mary before entering the novitiate with Fr Luuk and Br Matthew Martinez who will be ordained next month in his native Trinidad.

We wish our newly ordained priests every blessing in their ministries and pray that their commitment will encourage others to consider the Dominican way of life.

Archbishop Martin lays hands on the ordinands.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Priestly Ordinations 2014

Left to right: Bro Matthew Martinez OP, Bro Luuk Jansen OP and Br Colm Mannion OP

The Irish Dominican friars are looking forward to the presbyteral ordinations of three of our friars this year. Tomorrow (July 5th, 2014), Brothers Luuk Jansen and Colm Mannion will be ordained priests in Saint Saviour's Dominican church, Dominick Street, Dublin at 3.00 pm. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will be the ordaining prelate.

On Saturday, August 2nd, Bro Matthew Martinez will be ordained priest in the Dominican church of Saint Finbar in hid native Trinidad.

Irish Dominican Vocations asks your prayers for our brothers as they prepare for priesthood in the Order and a continuance of prayers for vocations to the Irish Dominican province.

Monday, May 19, 2014

We urgently need to talk about vocations - Irish Catholic

The most recent edition of the 'Irish Catholic' (Ireland's weekly Catholic newspaper) carried an editorial on the need to urgently talk about vocations. The editor, Michael Kelly, is hoping to stimulate a conversation about the topic and will next week explore how a culture of vocations can be created in Ireland. Below, in italics, is the opening contribution on the issue. I find myself in total agreement with his analysis and he reiterates many of the concerns that I have held for some time now. I look forward to the next instalment on this question and hope that it will engage those concerned with vocations promotion to respond and react.

Every time I write about the urgent task of promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life I get a two-fold response. Many readers - laypeople, priests and religious - get in touch saying they are delighted that I am raising the issue. On the other hand - I get correspondence - sometimes from those involved in vocations ministry - saying I have no idea how difficult their job is.

Let me begin by making it clear that I don't want in any way to discourage those involved in vocations ministry - on the contrary.

Pope Francis said recently that a lack of vocations is 'often due to a lack of contagious apostolic fervour'. I have a very strong sense that many people within the Church are not taking the vocations crisis seriously. Despite the sincere efforts of many, there are many others who give little or no thought to promoting vocations. We hear platitudes that it's about quality and not quantity.

Message from God

Or, it suits some people to say that we have to see a message from God in the ever-declining numbers. I sadly meet some priests and religious who are hostile to new vocations because they hope the decline will lead to a crisis that will force the Church to adopt his or her particular vision of ecclesial or ecclesiastical reform. Other people are even unwilling to use the term 'vocations'. They prefer 'vocation' and like to talk vaguely about every single person having a vocation. 

Vocations Sunday - which we just celebrated - is a day dedicated to vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

There is no vocation to the single life per se. One is either single and free to marry or one is not single and free to marry. It is a logical absurdity to say that one can be called to what one is; nor is there a vocation to marriage - not, at least, in the sense of a supernatural vocation. Marriage is man's natural state. Some people are called to forego the natural state in view of the Gospel and the Kingdom. Others are not. 

Too many priests and religious tread on egg-shells around laypeople as if any mention of priesthood and religious life will be taken as a slight to the lay vocation, or that laypeople are ubersensitive to a sense of feeling excluded by talk of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. This has not been my experience. In fact, it has often been a confusion among priests and religious about their identity that leads to confusion among laypeople.

Vocations' directors should not be afraid to promote the specificity of priesthood and religious life in their ministry. Presenting priesthood and religious life as a community worker or convenor isn't very attractive. It can also serve to demoralise those who are currently in ministry. If a young person feels called to be a social worker, a community organiser or a convenor they can earn a lot more money doing this in the secular sphere than in religious life!


The work of promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life is a challenging, even a daunting role. Vocations directors and promoters are at the forefront of trying to promote a call in a culture and a society that is often deaf to the idea of the supernatural and a culture that finds it increasingly difficult to contemplate a life-encompassing commitment. And yet, the work of promoting a culture of vocations in our dioceses and religious orders, congregations and missionary societies is vital in the true sense of that word - essential for the life of the Church. And if we believe the life of the Church, the Christian life, is vital for the flourishing of healthy, just and meaningful society then this work is vital for Ireland as we grapple to overcome a sense of dazed reality in the wake of the collapse of an economic and moral model that was built on sand.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Vocations Sunday 2014

As we prepare to celebrate the annual Day of Prayer for Vocations, it is opportune to be reminded that over fifty years ago when this special day of prayer was inaugurated by Pope Paul VI there was a perceived need to ask the universal Church to join in prayer - because of the lack of prayer at the time.

All our efforts at prayer will inevitably bear fruit, since we are responding to the direct call of Christ to 'pray the Lord of the harvest to send new labourers to His harvest'. And the Lord will not let us down when we pray - but what may do so is our lack of confidence in Him.

On this day it is good to remind ourselves that Jesus Christ is the only reason to be a priest or religious. With that in mind, I recall one man telling me a number of years ago as I began vocations ministry for the Irish Dominicans that Our Blessed Mother was an important part of his vocational discernment; in fact, one of Mary’s simple phrases helped make his discernment easier, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Your prayers are asked for the men who are currently discerning their call to become Dominicans in Ireland - this Vocations Sunday is an appropriate day to remember them.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Dominican Connect - May 2014

Dominican Connect (the vocations newsletter of the Irish Dominican friars) for May 2014 has been published and features the Dominican Vocations Day in Dublin held recently.

April was the month of Dominican meetings in Ireland with the European provincials' meeting in Dublin and the Lay Dominicans' AGM in Tallaght.

Coinciding with the beatifications in Rome was the installation of relics of popular saints in our church in Tralee.

Finally, in addition to upcoming novenas and tridua is the news of our Vocation Director becoming prior of our novitiate community in Cork.

Follow this link to read an electronic version of May 2014's Dominican Connect -

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Bishop Donal McKeown on Pope's message for Vocations Sunday 2014

The newly appointed Bishop of Derry in Northern Ireland, Donal McKeown, reflects on the message of Pope Francis for Vocations Sunday which will be celebrated on May 11th this year.

Bishop McKeown is the chair of the Council for Vocations of the Irish Episcopal Conference.