Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meeting of Dominican Nuns in Krakow

From the 5th to the 10th of September Dominican nuns from the region of Europe which is outside Italy, France and Spain met at a Vincentian retreat centre at Krzeszowice near Krakow.  We came from the monasteries of Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Vilnius, Oslo, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal (Fatima) and Srs Mairead and Breda from our community in Drogheda.  fr Brian Pierce OP the promoter for the Dominican  nuns was present throughout the meeting.  fr Viktor Hofstetter OP, a former promoter gave some of the conferences and fr Józef Zborzil, Promotor of the Nuns in Poland, fr Krzysztof Popławski, the Polish Provincial were present as invited guests and for the last two days we were privileged to have fr Bruno Cadoré, the Master of the Order with us - we greatly appreciated the fact that fr Bruno interrupted his work in S Sabina, Rome in order to come to share these days with us.

This is the third such meeting in recent years - the first being in Prague in 2005 and the second in Sthrhlfeld, Germany in 2008. Our biggest problem in this region is the language barrier but we had an excellent group of Dominican brothers and sisters who provided us with simultaneous translation.  One sister suggested that we spoke four languages - Polish, English, German and the language of the heart!  The liturgy was celebrated in a different language each day and we ended the day with a silent Eucharistic Hour.

Nodoubt this beautifully refurbished retreat centre was an ideal setting for our meeting - with the possiblity for walks on the grounds and in a nearby wooded park and along a river bank.  Of course the beatiful sunshine and warm weather was an added bonus for us coming from Ireland where we have been waiting for summer since last June but it never arrived!!!
The theme of the meeting was 'Obedience and Freedom'- we were fortunate that all the conferences were in English.  fr Bruno's input was encouraging and inspiring as he presented his vision of the place of the nuns at the heart of the Order - a life centred on the Word of God - a life given for the mission of the Order - to preach and bear witness to the coming down among us of God's Son to the people He loves.
We had discussions in language groups with some plenary sessions as well as informal gatherings during free time. We spoke about how we can care for our elderly sisters and how to provide a good formation for the young women who join us. It is encouraging that while a number of monasteries in our region have closed in recent years others are receiving vocations again after a gap of several years. 
On Saturday evening we were treated to a festive supper followed by song and dance and lots of fun.
After lunch on Sunday we went by bus to the shrine of Divine Mercy and afterwards to the Dominican Priory where we received a most interesting talk about the history of the Domincans in this very house for almost 800 years - we then joined the brothers for Vespers followed by supper. The following morning it was time to say our good-byes promising to keep in contact with each other.



Saturday, September 15, 2012

Congratulations to our Dominican Brothers

Our congratulations, prayers and best wishes to the five men who were accepted into the Order yesterday (September 14th is the feast of the Triumph of the Cross and is also the feast day of the Irish Dominican Province). Also to the two Brothers who made First Profession today. May God continue to bless you all in your formation as Friars Preaachers.

(Images from
Br Ronan O Dubhghaill, Br Philip Mulryne, Fr Stephen Hutchinson OP (novice master), Br Jesse Maingot, Br Adam Conroy and Br Matthew Farrell - after the five novices were clothed in the habit of the Dominican Order and began their novitiate in Cork

Fr Gregory Carroll OP (prior provincial), Br Kevin O Reilly OP, Br Murchadh O Madagain OP and Fr Philip McShane OP (outgoing novice master) after the first profession of the two brothers.

With the first profession of our two brothers today and the reception of our five new novices yesterday, the Irish Dominican friars now have 22 in formation at various stages. Please pray for them and those considering joining the Order and the friars who assist them.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary- 8th September

Athough it is a  little late we feel it is worth while offering you this homily preached by our brother Brian Pierce, (promoter of the Dominican nuns) during a regional meeting of Dominican nuns which took place over the past week in Krakow, Poland.  We will be sharing with you some highlights of this meeting in due course.

 Gospel: Mt 1:1-16, 18-23

·        Novels and short stories are two of the most popular kinds of literature. The gospel we have just heard is certainly not a short story!  In fact, it’s a very long novel-like story – one that is still being written and lived today.

·        If we read carefully, we will see that this very loooong story has a colorful list of characters in it.  There’s a lot of brokenness and sin woven through that long list of names … but there is a lot of grace, too.  It is Joseph’s story, but because of God’s mysterious plan, it is also Mary’s story.  And that means it is also our story, too.

·        Today we celebrate Mary’s birth.  But our gospel begins long before her birth. Not even Dostoevsky could write a story with so much drama and mystery and passion and pain – and love!

·        God’s story is a profound story.  Hundreds of years, thousands of years flowed into a single moment in history: the boy named Joseph grew up to be a man who met the lovely girl named Mary.  God was so patient, so creative.  So many people played a part in this love story.  Abraham married Sarah. Boaz – the son of Rahab – married the Moabite woman, Ruth.  And Ruth – not even an Israelite – became the great-grandmother of King David!  What a story!  What a mystery!  It’s Joseph and Mary’s story, and Jesus’ story.

·        And it is our story, too!  Do we realize what that means?  Do we realize that God has guided this whole journey with love and mercy and forgiveness and grace?  Do we realize that God knew us before we were born?  Are we aware of that river of grace and love that flows through us, that molds us and transforms us?

·        As the Psalmist sings:  “Lord, I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; wonderful are your works! … When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth, your eyes foresaw my actions … my days were shaped, before one came to be.  How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them (139: 13-17)!

·        God is not in a hurry.  It’s a long story, and we’ve been invited to be part of it, to walk and to dream, to laugh and to have doubts, to love and be forgiven. 

·        We will make mistakes – just like they did.  Just like King David did.  We will be confused – just like Joseph was.  But we will also say “yes.”  We will have moments of clarity and trust and we will say, “Here I am, Lord.  Send me.”

·        God is in no hurry.  Grace is like a good cup of tea.  It needs time to steep.  It takes many days and years and generations for God to tell his story.  

·        Today we celebrate Mary’s birth.  Holy Mary.  St. Mary.  She was once a little baby – but that was a long time ago.  When she was born, she had no idea what life would bring.  None of us do.  All we are asked to do is let God write the story into our hearts and minds and into our hands and our feet.  Where the story will take us we do not know.  Our task is to say “yes” and keep on walking.  Mary said “yes.”  And Joseph – after a very long and dark night of tears and struggle – also said “yes”.  And Dominic said “yes”.

·         And now it is our turn to say “yes”.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

22nd Sunday - Year B


“In Him we live and move and have our being” – these words spoken by St Paul to the people of Athens in the Acts of the Apostles came to mind as I reflected on today’s Mass readings.

In the first reading Moses asks the question: “what great nation has its gods so close as the Lord our God is to us when we call upon him?  and what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole Law that I put before you today?  Moses invites the people to listen and to put this Law into practice and he gives the reason why - so that they may have life! and may enter and take possession of the land which the Lord is giving to them.  For the Israelites we know that this land was Canaan or Palestine but for us Christians its meaning has been expanded beyond all imagining – St James in the second reading gives us a clue as he re-echoes a similar message: “it is all that is good, everything that is perfect which is given us from above; it comes down from the Father of all light.  By his own choice he made us his children by the message of the truth” …. And then he invites us to “listen and submit to the word which is planted in us and can save our souls.” Possession of the land in the Old Testament can now be translated as possession all the graces and blessings which have come to us through Christ – in a word the gift of Salvation – belonging to the family of the Trinity – sharing in the very relationship of the Son to the Father.   In the Gospel Jesus warns us against lip-service while our hearts are preoccupied with values contrary to his law – and invites us to listen saying: “listen to me all of you and understand.”


All three readings in one way or another invite us to listen - to look beyond the letter of the Law to what God is offering – to enter our hearts and reflect on the nearness of our God – to reflect on what we have received – the treasure which we carry in our hearts often without our being consciously aware of it.  Each and every human being has come forth from the hand of a loving God and is sustained in existence until we return to Him – “His is the breath that is in us and at his own bidding will He take it away.”  But for those of us who are baptised and receive the Eucharist - we live by the very life of Christ - as we have been hearing in the Gospel these past few weeks: “he who eats my flesh and drinks by blood lives in me and I live in him.”  And again “if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you will not have life in you.”  The life which Moses promised the Israelites in return for obeying the Law was only a shadow of the real life which God had in store for his people through Christ.  All growth in prayer and in our relationship with God implies that we become more and more aware of this treasure we carry within us and claim it as our own. 


With Moses we too can exclaim: “what great  nation has its gods so near as the Lord is to us” – “for in Him we live and move and have our being”.