30 Apr 2012

Christ is Risen!

Our Lady's Pastoral Area Eucharistic Rally

On Sunday, April 29th 2012 the seven parishes of Our Lady's Pastoral Area in West Limerick (Ardagh/Carrickerry, Dromcollogher/Broadford, Feenagh/Kilmeedy, Killeedy, Mahoonagh, Monagea and Newcastle West) gathered in the G.A.A. Grounds, Newcastle West for a Eucharistic Rally in preparation for the 50th International Eucharistic Rally in Dublin in June 2012.  Parishioners of all ages braved the blustery weather to come together to joyfully celebrate the Eucharist and Benediction.

In his homily, Fr. Tony Mullins (Diocesan Administrator) reminded us that our faith is based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  We are invited to engage with that relationship and do so as members of the faith community gathered around the table of the Lord to be nourished by Word and Sacrament. In the words of the Eucharistic Congress Hymn: "Christ's presence is revealed in our communion and His living word".  

Following Christ's Gospel will transform our lives, our culture and our value system.  We are called to proclaim the love of God that we experience in Jesus Christ and one another to all whom we meet.  Fr. Tony reminds us that we are not alone in this call, we are accompanied by the Holy Spirit and we are a community of believers with Jesus Christ at the centre.  With Christ at the centre of our Church we can do all things.  Through our baptism all of us share in the mission to nurture the faith and proclaim the Good News.  This means it begins with me... in our own homes.... in our own kitchens... with our own children.  Spreading the Good News begins within our own family spreading out into the Christian community.  We are all missionaries in that sense.

Fr. Tony's full homily (including the singing of the Eucharistic Congress Hymn) is available here.

John Keily also spoke briefly with Kit Histon, who remembers the 1932 Congress and, please God, will attend the 2012 Congress in June.  This interview is available here.

Fr. Tony Mullins (Diocesan Administrator) and the priests of Our Lady's Pastoral Area con-celebrating Mass

Ann Keily (Left) and Kit Histon (Right)

Some of the memorabilia from the 1932 Congress
This altar cloth was hand stitched commemorating the 1932 Congress in Dublin

28 Apr 2012

Good Shepherd Sunday (Vocations Sunday) - 29th April 2012 - 4th Sunday of Easter

This Sunday is Vocations Sunday where the Christian community in a special way prays for vocations and particularly for vocations to priesthood and religious life. We have a reflection with Fr Chris O'Donnell from Limerick Diocesan Pastoral Centre on vocation. We have our regular gospel reflection and saints of the week.

This weeks podcast is available HERE.

Vocation Sunday

The Lord has a plan for each of us; he calls each one of us by name. Our task is to learn how to listen, to perceive his call, to be courageous and faithful in following him and, when all is said and done, to be found trustworthy servants who have used well the gifts given us. - Pope Benedict XVI

Fr Chris O'Donnell gives us a reflection on vocation on this weeks programme.

Vocation comes from "vocare" which comes from the latin to be called. It is a reminder that all of us are called to a vocation, not just to priesthood and religious life. Each of us is called to live out our lives in respond to the love of God. It is a journey, which we wrestle with to unravel and find out what our purpose is. It is a reminder that we are created out of love and created in love. The call ultimately is to love, it is not so much what we do but who we are. It is a response to what is placed within us by God and finally a recognition that we are called to be people of love.

The reminder of vocation reminds us that "Everyone is willed, everyone is loved, each of us is necessary". Finding that vocation which will take struggle and effort will result in a sense of finding what is true to our own selves. Vocation is a struggle, it is not a once off thing, it is a choice to be made every day be it in the vows of marriage or religious life or the way we live our lives. It takes you by surprise and may take you places where perhaps you don't want to go. It stretches us and leads us to odd places.

But any vocation can only be sustained and nourished by prayer, not necessarily our own prayers but the prayers of others for us which reminds us of the need for this Vocation Sunday

Or have a listen to the reflection here.

Various posts from the blog on vocations and Vocations Sunday are available here including Pope Benedict XVI's message for Vocations Sunday 2012.

Gospel - John 10: 11-18

We are presented with John's gospel again this week. It is traditional that the 4th Sunday of Easter is known as Good Shepherd Sunday and has become linked with praying for vocations to the religious and priestly life.

The gospel is a very powerful piece of scripture, and our suggestion this week is that when you are reflecting on it for scripture that you take it line by line, in small bite sizes.

The gospel challenges to look to see what we are called to. We are all priests of God, but we are not in the ministerial priesthood. We are all prophets, priest and king by virtue of our baptism and sealing of the Holy Spirit in confirmation.

Every one has a call to a vocation. What is your vocation? What are you called to be in your life? Are you called to be a parent? If you put parent for Good Shepherd in this weeks gospel, does it change the understanding of the gospel for you this week? Does it make it more personal? Does it help to change the focus for you as you reflect on it this week?

"The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep" - This particular phrase is used four times in the passage we hear this week.  How are we called to reach out to our neighbours? Who are the good shepherds that we have met? The line implies that life wont be a bed of roses, answering our vocation can and will be a struggle; be that as a mother looking after a disabled child, a husband watching his wife - his beloved - disappearing in front of him from cancer, a wife who is loosing her husband - her lover - to Alzheimer's. But they are doing it our of love, they are living true to their vocation because ultimately vocation means to love.

"I know my own and my own knows me" -  Each of us can readily identify with the question is God listening to us? Is he with us? Jesus gives us the answer in today's gospel. God knows us better than we know ourselves and he is with us always. To know a person in the biblical sense was to know them intimately, at their deepest core. Jesus reminds us that he knows and loves each and everyone of us. He says to us, "You are not alone, you are not forgotten, I am with you always". It also prompts the question, how well do I know God? How much time do I set aside in my week to get to know God?

"There are other sheep I have that are not of this fold and these I have to lead as well" It is a reminder that we are called to unity in diversity, for "there are many rooms in my Fathers house". We are not all going to be the same, if we all did things the exact same way, how boring it would be. Our vocation is to live out our lives in love and fellowship answering to what God has put into us at our very creation.

"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him".

Other reflections on this weeks gospel are available from:
Popes Intentions May 2012:
  • General: That initiatives which uphold and defend the role of the family may be promoted in society.
  • Missionary: That Mary, Queen of the World and Star of Evangelisation, may accompany all missionaries in proclaiming her Son Jesus. 
Saints of the Week

Psalter: Week 4
April 30th - St Pius V

May is traditionally the month dedicated to Our Lady. A reminder that Monday night is May Eve if listeners/readers want to maintain the tradition of blessing the fields and gardens with Easter Water to seek the blessing of Lord as we move into Summer.

May 1st - St Joseph the Worker
May 2nd - St Athanasius (Bishop and Doctor of the Church)
May 3rd - Ss Philip and James (Apostles)
May 4th - St Conleth of Kildare
May 5th - Bl Edmund Rice and also herec

St Catherine of Siena

Source: Wikipedia
St Catherine of Siena's feast day is on April 29th. As that falls on a Sunday this year, the Sunday takes precedence so it won't be celebrated except by her Dominican family on Monday. Catherine was the youngest child in a large family of 25. At the age of six she had a vision in which Jesus appeared and blessed her. Her parents wanted her to marry, but she became a Dominican tertiary. She was a mystic and stigmatist. Received a vision in which she was in a mystical marriage with Christ, and the Infant Christ presented her with a wedding ring. Counselor to Pope Gregory XI and Pope Urban VI and worked to bring the papacy back from Avignon to Rome. She was proclaimed Doctor of the Church on 4 October 1970 by Paul VI.

It is fitting that the upcoming Vocations Sunday on the 29th of April is also the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. Her often quoted phrase: "If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire" is a challenging invitation to each one of us!

Over at Pilgrims progress, Sr Louise has a reflection on Vocations Sunday and St Catherine of Siena.

The Dominican nuns in Drogheda have done a series of reflections on Catherine of Siena's as part of the novena seeking Catherine's intercession.

If you would like to read more of Catherine's writings they are available on Draw by Love.

IEC 2012 - "That would be an ecumenical matter"


From Vatican Radio:

If you thought that the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, Ireland, this June was just for Catholics, you would be wrong. “There is a genuine sense of excitement and expectation right across the Christian traditions in Ireland”, says Rev. Michael Jackson, the Anglican Archbishop of Dublin.

Continue reading and listen to the report HERE.

Irish Dominican Nuns - Vocation Discernment

A talk given by one of the Sisters on Vocation Discernment - in particular her method of discerning her own vocation and what attracted her to this Order and Monastery - with images from their monastic life.

Benedictines of Glenstal Abbey

To find out more about Glenstal and the life of the monks, go here.

27 Apr 2012

In praise of priests

As part of the universal Year for Priests which rans from 2009 to 2010, the Council for Clergy and the Catholic Communications Office of the Irish Bishops' Conference produced five short video interviews with a cross-section of lay people on the subject of priesthood and what particular priests have meant in their lives.
Mickey Harte is manager of the Tyrone Senior football team, and an estate agent. Mickey speaks about Mgr Eoin Thynne HCF, who is head chaplain with the Irish Defence Forces.

26 Apr 2012

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal - aka the Moyross Monks

Read about the friars here.

In praise of priests

As part of the universal Year for Priests which rans from 2009 to 2010, the Council for Clergy and the Catholic Communications Office of the Irish Bishops' Conference produced five short video interviews with a cross-section of lay people on the subject of priesthood and what particular priests have meant in their lives.

Alice Taylor is an author who lives in Innishannon, Co Cork. Alice speaks about Fr Denis O‟Connor CSsR, a Redemptorist Priest who works in the parish of Castleknock, Dublin.

25 Apr 2012

Vocation Sunday - Cistercian Nuns - Glencairn

Further information about a vocation with the Cistercians available here.

25th April - Feast of St Mark the Evangelist - Pray for the Coptic Church

O God, who raised up Saint Mark, your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever

From Catholicculture.org:

John Mark, later known simply as Mark, was a Jew by birth. He was the son of that Mary who was proprietress of the Cenacle or "upper room" which served as the meeting place for the first Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12). He was still a youth at the time of the Savior's death. In his description of the young man who was present when Jesus was seized and who fled from the rabble leaving behind his "linen cloth," the second Evangelist might possibly have stamped the mark of his own identity.

During the years that followed, the rapidly maturing youth witnessed the growth of the infant Church in his mother's Upper Room and became acquainted with its traditions. This knowledge he put to excellent use when compiling his Gospel. Later, we find Mark acting as a companion to his cousin Barnabas and Saul on their return journey to Antioch and on their first missionary journey. But Mark was too immature for the hardships of this type of work and therefore left them at Perge in Pamphylia to return home.

As the two apostles were preparing for their second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take his
cousin with him. Paul, however, objected. Thereupon the two cousins undertook a missionary journey to Cyprus. Time healed the strained relations between Paul and Mark, and during the former's first Roman captivity (61-63), Mark rendered Paul valuable service (Col. 4:10; Philem. 24), and the Apostle learned to appreciate him. When in chains the second time Paul requested Mark's presence (2 Tim. 4:11).

An intimate friendship existed between Mark and Peter; he played the role of Peter's companion, disciple, and interpreter. According to the common patristic opinion, Mark was present at Peter's preaching in Rome and wrote his Gospel under the influence of the prince of the apostles. This explains why incidents which involve Peter are described with telling detail (e.g., the great day at Capharnaum, 1:14f)). Little is known of Mark's later life. It is certain that he died a martyr's death as bishop of Alexandria in Egypt. His relics were transferred from Alexandria to Venice, where a worthy tomb was erected in St. Mark's Cathedral.

The Gospel of St. Mark, the shortest of the four, is, above all, a Roman Gospel. It originated in Rome and is addressed to Roman, or shall we say, to Western Christianity. Another high merit is its chronological presentation of the life of Christ. For we should be deeply interested in the historical sequence of the events in our blessed Savior's life.

Furthermore, Mark was a skilled painter of word pictures. With one stroke he frequently enhances a familiar scene, shedding upon it new light. His Gospel is the "Gospel of Peter," for he wrote it under the direction and with the aid of the prince of the apostles. "The Evangelist Mark is represented as a lion because he begins his Gospel in the wilderness, `The voice of one crying in the desert: Make ready the way of the Lord,' or because he presents the Lord as the unconquered King."

Patron: Against impenitence; attorneys; barristers; captives; Egypt; glaziers; imprisoned people; insect bites; lions; notaries; prisoners; scrofulous diseases; stained glass workers; struma; Diocese of Venice, Florida; Venice, Italy.

Symbols: Winged lion; fig tree; pen; book and scroll; club; barren fig tree; scroll with words Pax Tibi; winged and nimbed lion; lion.

St Mark is also the patron of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria which is the official name for the largest Christian church in Egypt and the Middle East. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, when it took a different position over Christological theology from that of the Orthodox Church. The precise differences in theology that caused the split with the Coptic Christians are still disputed, highly technical and mainly concerned with the nature of Christ. The foundational roots of the Church are based in Egypt but it has a worldwide following.The head of the church and the See of Alexandria was the Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy See of Saint Mark. H.H. Pope Shenouda III died on 17th March 2012 and the Coptic Church is currently in the process of selecting his successor. As latin christians we should pray for our fellow Christians particularly at this challenging time in Egypt and invoke the intercession of their patron at this difficult time.

Here I am Lord

24 Apr 2012

In praise of priests

As part of the universal Year for Priests which ran from 2009 to 2010, the Council for Clergy and the Catholic Communications Office of the Irish Bishops’ Conference produced five short video interviews with a cross-section of lay people on the subject of priesthood and what particular priests have meant in their lives. As we head towards Vocation Sunday 2012, Sacred Space 102fm is going to share some of these interviews with our readers.

The first video is from George Hook who is a broadcaster, journalist and rugby union commentator. Originally from Cork he now lives in Dublin. George reflects on the Dominican priest Fr Alphonsus Moran OP.

23 Apr 2012

Easter: “Trust in the resurrection of Christ” an anchor “to keep us surely attached to hope”

Weekly meditation by Brother Alois - Saturday 7 April 2012
Tomorrow morning we will be celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. At the end of the Eucharist, and throughout the day, we can exchange the Easter greeting “Christ is risen!” and the reply “He is risen indeed.”

This feast is at the heart of our faith. Brother Roger used to say: “If Christ were not risen, we would not be here.”

Yes, it is Jesus Christ who brings us together: the brothers of the Community, and you who are sharing for a few days our life here on the hill. Throughout this Holy Week, we have been meditating on the passion of Christ. Now we are entering into his joy. But what is this it really about? What does Christ’s Resurrection mean for us? How can we express this mystery today? Many people, especially in our western societies, find it difficult to believe in it.

In the face of suffering and death, we will always be at a loss. Trust in the resurrection of Jesus does not explain away the existence of suffering and death.

Trust in the resurrection of Christ is rather like an anchor that we can let down so as to keep surely attached to hope. In our everyday worries and joys, and even in our trials, we can turn towards Christ. He is alive, even if our eyes do not see him, even if we cannot always feel his presence.

Let us welcome the joy of the resurrection! We are alone no longer; nothing can separate us any more from God’s love. And if we bear within us the joy of God’s presence, we become capable of being close to those who are in distress.

This evening our brother has spoken a “yes” to Christ, to live out his life in our Community. By the life of our little Community, we would like to express that Christ brings us together from all the corners of the earth.

Our Brother Jasper wants, with us his brothers, to express a parable of communion; that is, to give a visible sign that Jesus has laid the beginning of a new humanity, where it is no longer rivalry and violence that are the rule, but the peace of God.

You can well imagine that we live this out very imperfectly, without pretension. Yet there is a joy in giving one’s whole life, in trust in Christ, and in beginning again and again to express between us the new solidarity that Christ has left us as a heritage.

At Taizé we are not isolated, but integrated into the great communion of believers across the earth. That leads us to travel a lot. Just yesterday, I was away: some Christians in Paris asked me to come and meditate with them on the way of the cross.

Before Easter, we have been visiting Church leaders. In Geneva, at the World Council of Churches, we were seeking above all how prayer together among Christians of different denominations could be made more intense, and show that we already belong to each other.

Then it was our annual visit to Rome, with a beautiful private audience with Pope Benedict XVI, as we have had the last few years. I was moved that this elderly man, who faces so many apparently insoluble questions and situations, welcomed me with such great human warmth.

The Pope made clear he was very interested by the international meeting of young people that we will be organizing in Rwanda in November. And he rejoices to welcome us to Rome at the end of the year for the European Meeting. We will have a common prayer together with him in the Church of St Peter.

We would all like our Churches to live more and more from the joy and the simplicity of the Gospel so that Christ’s compassion may shine out in the world. The Church herself is not the light, but if the communion between Christians was more visible, the Church would be like a beautiful full moon reflecting the light of the sun, and so would give more light to the nights of humanity.

In the world, we see so much suffering and so many injustices. But we can also see reasons to hope. This week, we have with us twelve young people from Myanmar. Their country is going through profound changes which are moving in a direction that is positive and even un-hoped-for.

So we would like to express our support to the young people of Myanmar as they advance courageously on the way of justice and of peace. As a sign of our support, we will give you these branches from some of our trees with spring flowers. You will not be able to take them all the way home with you, but the image of them can stay in your hearts.

IEC2012: From Ireland’s cloisters a prayer for Congress

From Vatian Radio

Over the past few months, in the silence of an ancient Abbey nestled amid the woodlands and waterways of Ireland’s Blackwater Valley, a community of 35 nuns have been praying and working towards Congress. They are Ireland’s only community of enclosed Cistercian women religious from St Mary’s Abbey, Glencairn and they have been given the task of producing the 250 thousand Eucharistic breads for consecration at the Masses that will be the focal point the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, taking place in Dublin, Ireland June 10-17 next. In their own way and according to their specific charism, they are answering the call to Congress, to “Communion with Christ and with one another”.“We feel very, very privileged to work towards the Eucharistic Congress”, says Sr. Fiachra Nutty, a former horticulturalist and late vocation to the Order, who hopes to make her solemn profession later this year. “Our whole existence here revolves around the Eucharistic celebration, and being an enclosed order we don’t leave the premises, we are very focused on God and His presence here with us”.

It’s no surprise as then that this Community was chosen by IEC2012 organisers to produce the hosts for the June Congress. The breads themselves, Sr. Fiachra, reveals will only have two ingredients: a special altar-bread flour and Glencairn’s own pure spring water. “We are making them in a variety of sizes”, says Sr. Fiachra, “we have discovered that Cathedrals require a very large host, and then all the sizes down to what we call the people’s host”.

She continues: “Our whole focus here as Cistercians is to make life as simple as possible and focused on God” she continues, “so we tend to steer away from making them ornate in any way. But the difference with the bread that we make here is that it is more substantial than breads you will find elsewhere. In other words the hosts are just that other bit thicker. The idea is following the general instructions of the Roman Missal dating back to the renewed liturgy of Vatican II, it was suggested that we should try to produce hosts that are large enough to be broken and shared”.

In fact the Congress theme The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another, has its roots in the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, (Lumen Gentium). The ecclesiology of Vatican II is an ecclesiology of communion and in a world in which many forms of community have collapsed, the Church not only
is communion, but also has, as an essential element of her mission, the task of proposing, building-up and sustaining forms of community.

“Are whole being here over the past couple of months has been focused on praying for the fruits of the Congress because it’s no news to anybody that our Church is experiencing great difficulties. But we really do see this congress as a means to build up the Church again. We’ve also with great joy learned the hymn for the Congress so we are spreading the message in song. We also have the joy of being able to follow all the events on line. So we feel we are very much a part of Congress albeit that we do observe our rules of enclosure quite strictly. But nevertheless in spirit and prayer we will be joined with the wider Church”.

Listen to the full piece from Vatican Radio here.

IEC 2012 by numbers!

Listening to the Call - Pope Benedicy XVI

Over at Irish Dominican Vocations, Fr Gerard Dunne OP had some quotes from the Holy Father's traditional meeting with the clergy of Rome at the beginning of Lent highlighted.

This year Pope Benedict XVI explored the nature of call in his address to them.  Fr Ger has picked out some of the quotes from his speech. They deserve to be reflected on by those considering a vocation and especially those involved in vocations ministry.

".....I would say that our first important call is Baptism, to be with Christ; the second important call is to be pastors in his service and we must listen ever more intently to this call so as to be able to call, or better to help others too so that they may hear the voice of the Lord who calls. A cause of great suffering in the Church today in Europe and in the West is the lack of (priestly) vocations, but the Lord always calls; it is the listening that is lacking. We have heard his voice and must always pay attention to the Lord's voice on behalf of others, we must help make his call heard and thus ensure that is accepted and that a path is opened to the vocation to be pastors with Christ."

....Saint Paul goes back to this word 'call'....and speaks of a vocation , a call that is to hope. In this way, he demonstrates the dimensions of the call: it is not only individual, the call is already a dialogical phenomenon , a phenomenon in the 'we'; in the 'you and I' and in the 'us' - called to the one hope. In this way we see the dimensions of the call; they are three.

....A call ultimately is where God is the aim.....in the end we arrive simply in God and the whole of our journey is a journey towards God. However, this journey is never isolated, it is never a journey towards the 'I', but it is a journey towards the future, toward a renewal of the whole world, and a journey in the 'we' of those called who call others, who enable them to hear this call. Therefore the call is always also a vocation in the Church,'

22 Apr 2012

Vocation's Sunday 2012

“What will you do with your life? What are your plans? Have you ever thought of committing your existence totally to Christ? Do you think that there can be anything greater than to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus?” -Pope John Paul II

29th April 2012 is Vocations Sunday. Pope Paul VI instituted the World Day of Prayer for Vocations on the 11 April 1964 by saying: “O Jesus, divine Shepherd of the spirit, you have called the Apostles in order to make them fishermen of men, you still attract to you burning spirits and generous young people, in order to render them your followers and ministers to us” (Pope Paul VI )

In the years since, successive pontiffs have called on the Church to focus and pray for vocations. Prayer and promotion of vocations takes place on a daily basis here in Ireland but in a particular way on Vocations Sunday which this year falls on Sunday 29 April, the Fourth Sunday of Easter.

In Limerick there will be a three hour Prayer Vigil for Vocations which will be held in St Nessans Church, Raheen, Limerick on Saturday, 28th April, 2012. The Vigil will commence with Concelebrated Mass at 6pm and conclude with Benediction at 9pm. You are invited to participate in the Vigil for all or any part of the three hours.

The Pope issues a message for Vocations Sunday each year and the theme chosen by Pope Benedict XVI for this year’s celebration is: Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God. In his message Pope Benedict says: “It is in this soil of self-offering and openness to the love of God, and as the fruit of that love, that all vocations are born and grow. By drawing from this wellspring through prayer, constant recourse to God’s word and to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, it becomes possible to live a life of love for our neighbours, in whom we come to perceive the face of Christ the Lord (cf. Mt 25:31-46).”

The full text of the message can be read here.

The website of the Irish Episcopal Conference has links to many resources for Vocations Sunday including:
  • Website of the National Diocesan Vocations Directors www.vocations.ie
  • Find and LIKE the Vocations Directors on Facebook as Diocesan Vocations Ireland
  • Follow the Diocesan Vocations Directors on Twitter @NVocations

General links and resources:
  • Interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan on priesthood and vocations - This interview was conducted in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth in May 2010 as part of the Year for Priests initiative. Cardinal Dolan was an Archbishop at the time but he was made a Cardinal by Pope Benedict in February 2012. In this interview Cardinal Dolan says that it when it comes to promoting vocations and priesthood that ‘happiness attracts’. Click here to watch the full interview.
  • Pope Benedict’s 2010 Letter to Seminarians - Click here for Pope Benedict’s Letter to Seminarians from October 2010
  • In Praise of Priests - In five short videos, George Hook, Alice Taylor, Ashleigh O’Neill, Mickey Harte and David Begg share what particular priests have meant in their lives. Click here to view videos.
  • Documents on priesthood from the Congregation for the Clergy - Click here for documents on priesthood from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy.
  • Books on priesthood from Veritas - Veritas has some interesting books available on vocations. Click here to see a range of what they have. Visit one of their stores nationwide to see their full range of books and publications on vocations and priesthood.
  • Website for Vocations Ireland – Vocations Ireland is an association of the Vocation Directors of the Catholic Religious Orders in Ireland. They work to present religious life, apostolic, missionary and contemplative, as a life choice that is one way of following Christ and bringing deeper meaning and purpose to life. Click here.
  • Conference of Vocation Diocesan Vocation Directors.

The Vocations Director for the Diocese of Limerick is:

Fr. Noel Kirwan
10 Sexton St., Limerick.
061 400133

Fr. Michael O' Shea
9 Castleroy Heights,
Monaleen, Limerick
061 335764

Further information on vocations to priesthood and religious life from the Diocese of Limerick.

Vocation Prayer:
Lord Jesus,
you said to your disciples:
“The harvest indeed is great
but the labourers are few.”
We ask that we may know
and follow the vocation
to which you have called us.
We pray for those called to serve:
those whom you have called,
those you are calling now,
and those you will call in the future.
May they be open and responsive
to the call of serving your people. 

Vocations - the Gift of the Love of God



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will be celebrated on 29 April 2012, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, prompts us to meditate on the theme: Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God.

The source of every perfect gift is God who is Love – Deus caritas est: “Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him” (1 Jn 4:16). Sacred Scripture tells the story of this original bond between God and man, which precedes creation itself. Writing to the Christians of the city of Ephesus, Saint Paul raises a hymn of gratitude and praise to the Father who, with infinite benevolence, in the course of the centuries accomplishes his universal plan of salvation, which is a plan of love. In his Son Jesus – Paul states – “he chose us, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him in love” (Eph 1:4). We are loved by God even “before” we come into existence! Moved solely by his unconditional love, he created us “not … out of existing things” (cf. 2 Macc 7:28), to bring us into full communion with Him.

In great wonderment before the work of God’s providence, the Psalmist exclaims: “When I see the heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:3-4). The profound truth of our existence is thus contained in this surprising mystery: every creature, and in particular every human person, is the fruit of God’s thought and an act of his love, a love that is boundless, faithful and everlasting (cf. Jer 31:3). The discovery of this reality is what truly and profoundly changes our lives. In a famous page of the Confessions, Saint Augustine expresses with great force his discovery of God, supreme beauty and supreme love, a God who was always close to him, and to whom he at last opened his mind and heart to be transformed: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.” (X, 27.38). With these images, the Saint of Hippo seeks to describe the ineffable mystery of his encounter with God, with God’s love that transforms all of life.

It is a love that is limitless and that precedes us, sustains us and calls us along the path of life, a love rooted in an absolutely free gift of God. Speaking particularly of the ministerial priesthood, my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, stated that “every ministerial action - while it leads to loving and serving the Church - provides an incentive to grow in ever greater love and service of Jesus Christ the head, shepherd and spouse of the Church, a love which is always a response to the free and unsolicited love of God in Christ” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 25). Every specific vocation is in fact born of the initiative of God; it is a gift of the Love of God! He is the One who takes the “first step”, and not because he has found something good in us, but because of the presence of his own love “poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5).

In every age, the source of the divine call is to be found in the initiative of the infinite love of God, who reveals himself fully in Jesus Christ. As I wrote in my first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, “God is indeed visible in a number of ways. In the love-story recounted by the Bible, he comes towards us, he seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the Last Supper, to the piercing of his heart on the Cross, to his appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the Apostles, he guided the nascent Church along its path. Nor has the Lord been absent from subsequent Church history: he encounters us ever anew, in the men and women who reflect his presence, in his word, in the sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist” (No. 17).

The love of God is everlasting; he is faithful to himself, to the “word that he commanded for a thousand generations” (Ps 105:8). Yet the appealing beauty of this divine love, which precedes and accompanies us, needs to be proclaimed ever anew, especially to younger generations. This divine love is the hidden impulse, the motivation which never fails, even in the most difficult circumstances.

Dear brothers and sisters, we need to open our lives to this love. It is to the perfection of the Father’s love (cf. Mt 5:48) that Jesus Christ calls us every day! The high standard of the Christian life consists in loving “as” God loves; with a love that is shown in the total, faithful and fruitful gift of self. Saint John of the Cross, writing to the Prioress of the Monastery of Segovia who was pained by the terrible circumstances surrounding his suspension, responded by urging her to act as God does: “Think nothing else but that God ordains all, and where there is no love, put love, and there you will draw out love” (Letters, 26).

It is in this soil of self-offering and openness to the love of God, and as the fruit of that love, that all vocations are born and grow. By drawing from this wellspring through prayer, constant recourse to God’s word and to the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, it becomes possible to live a life of love for our neighbours, in whom we come to perceive the face of Christ the Lord (cf. Mt 25:31-46). To express the inseparable bond that links these “two loves” – love of God and love of neighbour – both of which flow from the same divine source and return to it, Pope Saint Gregory the Great uses the metaphor of the seedling: “In the soil of our heart God first planted the root of love for him; from this, like the leaf, sprouts love for one another.” (Moralium Libri, sive expositio in Librum B. Job, Lib. VII, Ch. 24, 28; PL 75, 780D).

These two expressions of the one divine love must be lived with a particular intensity and purity of heart by those who have decided to set out on the path of vocation discernment towards the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life; they are its distinguishing mark. Love of God, which priests and consecrated persons are called to mirror, however imperfectly, is the motivation for answering the Lord’s call to special consecration through priestly ordination or the profession of the evangelical counsels. Saint Peter’s vehement reply to the Divine Master: “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you” (Jn 21:15) contains the secret of a life fully given and lived out, and thus one which is deeply joyful.

The other practical expression of love, that towards our neighbour, and especially those who suffer and are in greatest need, is the decisive impulse that leads the priest and the consecrated person to be a builder of communion between people and a sower of hope. The relationship of consecrated persons, and especially of the priest, to the Christian community is vital and becomes a fundamental dimension of their affectivity. The Curé of Ars was fond of saying: “Priests are not priests for themselves, but for you” (Le cure d’Ars. Sa pensée – Son cœur, Foi Vivante, 1966, p. 100).

Dear brother bishops, dear priests, deacons, consecrated men and women, catechists, pastoral workers and all of you who are engaged in the field of educating young people: I fervently exhort you to pay close attention to those members of parish communities, associations and ecclesial movements who sense a call to the priesthood or to a special consecration. It is important for the Church to create the conditions that will permit many young people to say “yes” in generous response to God’s loving call.

The task of fostering vocations will be to provide helpful guidance and direction along the way. Central to this should be love of God’s word nourished by a growing familiarity with sacred Scripture, and attentive and unceasing prayer, both personal and in community; this will make it possible to hear God’s call amid all the voices of daily life. But above all, the Eucharist should be the heart of every vocational journey: it is here that the love of God touches us in Christ’s sacrifice, the perfect expression of love, and it is here that we learn ever anew how to live according to the “high standard” of God’s love. Scripture, prayer and the Eucharist are the precious treasure enabling us to grasp the beauty of a life spent fully in service of the Kingdom.

It is my hope that the local Churches and all the various groups within them will become places where vocations are carefully discerned and their authenticity tested places where young men and women are offered wise and strong spiritual direction. In this way, the Christian community itself becomes a manifestation of the Love of God in which every calling is contained. As a response to the demands of the new commandment of Jesus, this can find eloquent and particular realization in Christian families, whose love is an expression of the love of Christ who gave himself for his Church (cf. Eph 5:32). Within the family, “a community of life and love” (Gaudium et Spes, 48), young people can have a wonderful experience of this self-giving love. Indeed, families are not only the privileged place for human and Christian formation; they can also be “the primary and most excellent seed-bed of vocations to a life of consecration to the Kingdom of God” (Familiaris Consortio, 53), by helping their members to see, precisely within the family, the beauty and the importance of the priesthood and the consecrated life. May pastors and all the lay faithful always cooperate so that in the Church these “homes and schools of communion” may multiply, modelled on the Holy Family of Nazareth, the harmonious reflection on earth of the life of the Most Holy Trinity.

With this prayerful hope, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to all of you: my brother bishops, priests, deacons, religious men and women and all lay faithful, and especially those young men and women who strive to listen with a docile heart to God’s voice and are ready to respond generously and faithfully.

From the Vatican, 18 October 2011

21 Apr 2012

22nd April 2012 - 3rd Sunday of Easter (Year B) -

On this weeks programme Fr Richard Keane tells us about the upcoming Eucharistic Rally being held in Newcastle West on 29th April 2012 in preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress (IEC2012). We also have our regular gospel reflection and some saints of the week and local notices.

This weeks programme is available HERE.

IEC 2012 - Our Lady's Pastoral Area Eucharistic Rally 29th April 2012

Fr Richard Keane CC joined us this week to tell us about the Eucharistic Rally that is being held in Newcastle West on Sunday 29th April 2012. The rally is being organised by Our Lady's Pastoral Area as part of the preparations for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress which is being held in Dublin between June 10th to 16th at the RDS in Dublin with the final Mass at Croke Park on June 17th. The parishes of the pastoral area are coming together for a celebration as a faith community sharing resources and supporting each other.

The Eucharistic Rally which will be held in the GAA field on 29th April in Newcastle West at 2.30pm. The celebration will be  celebrating the gift of the Eucharist to us as a faith community. It will also be a reminder to people of the up coming IEC 2012 as well as demonstrating the efforts to build up community within the pastoral area, stressing the theme of the IEC 2012 - "The Eucharist: Communion with Christ and with one another".

Any such celebration stresses again for us the central role of the Eucharist in our lives of faith, which reminds us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith as a pilgrim people. It reminds us that just as we are celebrating the Easter season where the risen Christ appeared to his disciples, the Eucharist confirms to us that the risen Christ is still with us in this day in age.

Gospel - Luke 24: 35-48

The Appearance of Christ at the Cenacle - James Tissot
On this weeks gospel we again hear of the encounter between Jesus and his disciples in the Upper Room on the evening of Easter Sunday. We hear from Luke's perspective what we heard from St John last week. Luke's account which we hear this week continues on after the events on the road to Emmaus where two of the disciples fleeing Jerusalem encountered the Risen Lord but didn't recognise him until the see the breaking of bread. Now they have returned to the Upper Room and they are telling the Eleven what had happened.

The gospel confirms for us again this week how close Christ is to us. We believe that Jesus is truly human and truly divine. As Fr Eugene over at Sunday Reflections reminds us this week, if you want to see Christ's humanity, we look to the cross and what happened on Good Friday, To see Christ's divinity, we look to what happened on Easter Sunday and the Resurrection event and what happened after that event.

This week we again encounter Jesus the Consoler in the gospel. Again we have the great prayer and greeting, "Peace be with you". Jesus asks "Why are you so agitated? Why are these doubts rising in your hearts?" Lectio asks how is the Word of God, written some 2000 years ago still speaking to us today? Looking at the lines of this weeks gospel it is hard not see how appropriate this question must be for so many of us today where our faith is battered and bruised from everything that has happened. Jesus is asking us why are we so nervous of our faith? Look have you not seen the marks of the nails in his hands and feet? Have you not heard the witnesses who have seen his Glorified Body? He is still with us even now.

"And their joy was so great" - the joy of the apostles needs to be looked at closely here. If you think of where the disciples were when Jesus first appeared; especially considering everything that had happened three days before and how they had behaved. Yet despite this, Jesus first response to them was "Peace be with you". He stressed to the disciples and to us that despite everything that had happened we still had the same relationship of love and friendship, he offers us the consolation of knowing that everything is forgiven, he is still there, waiting for us to turn back to him once more.

Other reflections on this weeks gospel:

Pope Benedict XVI's Intentions for the month of April
  • General Intention - That many young people would hear the call of Christ and follow him in the priesthood and religious life.
  • Mission Intention - Christ: Hope for Africa - That the risen Christ may be a sign of certain hope for the men and women of the African Continent.
Saints of the Week

Psalter - Week 3

April 23rd - St George, patron of England.
April 24th - St Fidelis of Sigmaringen
(It is also the anniversary of the inauguration in 2005 of Pope Benedict XVI as supreme pastor of the church).
April 25th - St Mark the Evangelist and also here
April 26th - Pope St Cletus
April 27th - St Asicus - patron of the diocese of Elphin
April 28th - St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort

20 Apr 2012

When Peter and Paul disagree

When Peter and Paul disagree
The Irish Catholic - Editorial
19th April 2012
Garry O'Sullivan
Managing Editor

An 88-year-old nun/sister wrote to me this week congratulating the paper’s coverage of the Fr Flannery/Vatican controversy (we broke the story) and signed off saying, “Thank God, He is in charge.” Amen sister!

I couldn’t agree more and although I’m less than half her age, I share her tiredness. Self-described Vatican II liberals lining up to bash their heads against the equally stubborn heads of more conservative priests and bishops and Vatican officials. It’s all a bit predictable.

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) are of course right that the Church should permit discussion and dialogue and it is also true that the Vatican are having a PR nightmare by failing to communicate their point of view leaving the secular media to have a field day thrashing the Church.

Others have pointed out that Fr Flannery et al have had the last 40 years to discuss these issues unfettered in the religious press and in an inviting secular press.

There has been general tolerance of discussion of these not so new issues, until now. Maybe this is a harsh clampdown by the Vatican or maybe the Vatican, through its visitation, believes that real damage is being done to the faithful by the constant raising of these issues as key to the renewal of the Church.

Why the surprise after the visitation that things would be tightened up? That’s what audits do. For instance, why was Redemptorist Fr Flannery singled out and not Fr Hoban or Fr McDonagh?

Could it be that one of the Apostolic Visitors is a former superior general of the Redemptorists and is now the secretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life!

It seems highly credible that Archbishop Joseph Tobin shone the spotlight on Fr Flannery as he did his visitation of the Redemptorists and didn’t like what he saw/read/heard.

Did Fr Flannery meet Archbishop Tobin and was there any correspondence between them? We should be told.

There is essentially an issue of obedience in this and it is also a fair point to say that the Church authorities, to whom vows of obedience are taken, have the right to seek fidelity to that vow, as a manager has the right to manage and discipline his/her staff.

But obedience only goes so far until conscience comes into play. According to St Thomas Aquinas: “Every judgement of conscience, be it right or wrong, be it about things evil in themselves or morally indifferent, is obligatory, in such wise that he who acts against his conscience always sins.”

If the ACP and the religious orders whose members have been silenced want to register a significant protest to the Vatican and in full conscience believe that the Church’s position on the issues they have raised is morally wrong, they could take a lesson from the Civil Rights movement.

Let them all start writing articles in magazines and newspapers advocating their positions and then report themselves and each other to the Vatican.

If in good conscience they believe that Fr Flannery and Fr Sean Fagan are being wronged, then courageously stand up together against that wrong. It would be an act of mass disobedience but didn’t Cardinal Newman write to the Duke of Norfolk to say that he would raise a toast to conscience first and then the Pope?

Many priests were prepared to go to jail rather than break the seal of the confessional last August. If this is an issue of conscience, then the vow of obedience can be supplanted just as the law can be flouted.

Abbot Mark-Patrick Hederman tells the wonderful story of Maximus the Confessor, who reflects a moment in the history of the Church when the truth was abandoned by virtually all in the official Church.

Maximus held that Jesus had two wills, that of God and of a man, but everyone declared this position anathema and Maximus has his limbs cut off and his tongue cut out. His protest and his courage were eventually recognised. His point shouldn’t be lost; God always respects our human freedom.

So we are left with the question, are the issues on which these priests are being required to refrain from writing or speaking about, matters of such import that they require a breach of obedience under the right of conscientious objection? Perhaps the plethora of moral theologians out there would care to write in and tell us.

The question of right and wrong goes back to Vatican II and how it is interpreted. To my fallible knowledge, Vatican II did not push women’s ordination, married clergy, and sexual ethics was mostly pushed out to the Pope’s commission on reproduction.

What it did do was revisit a vision of the role of the laity that was certainly ignored since the Reformation, some would say since the early Church.

In her book The Emerging Laity, Aurelie Hagstrom convincingly argues that Vatican II reclaimed the early Pauline theology of the Church which resulted in a renewed theology of the laity, and their identity and function in the Church.

At the Reformation, Protestant reformers stressed some of Paul’s teachings while Catholicism reacted by becoming almost exclusively ‘Petrine’.

It took 400 years to reclaim St Paul back into our theology. The Pauline and the Petrine dimensions of the Church were finally reunited at Vatican II.

Interestingly, some people have been suggesting that those calling for change in Church teaching should join the Protestants because that is what they are. This ignores the possibility that many are only espousing the long tradition of Paul versus Peter! And Peter was wrong on several occasions.

I don’t have the answers, but to conclude, I do find it deeply ironic, that at a time when the Petrine Church is struggling to find vocations, those who advocate change and radical change at that to save the Church they too love, they pick the issue of replenishing the ranks of the clergy with married and female priests as the battle ground issue on which to fight with the Vatican.

They do this in the name of fighting for the values of Vatican II which specifically outlined the key role of the laity in the new Pentecost. Could it be that both sides are wearing clerical blinkers and the Holy Spirit has a whole different plan? Thank God He is in charge!

18 Apr 2012

Christian Persecution

A review of Christian persecution around the world by John L. Allen with a big H/T to The Anchoress for the link. It is an interesting presentation which may challenge your perspective on the issue.