When I go home to Ireland I sometimes feel depressed at what I see as a colossal falling away from the Catholic faith. And reports I've read on some St Patricks' Day celebrations in recent years have led me to think that anything to do with the saint and with our Christian faith is purely coincidental.
However, there are signs of hope. Father Gerard Dunne OP highlighted on 22 February on his website, Irish Dominican Vocations, the first profession of Sr Lucy Conway OSsR, in the Redemptoristine Monastery, Drumcondra, Dublin. The Redemptoristines are contemplatives.
Father Dunne wrote: Yesterday, it was my great joy to attend the first profession of a Redempterostine nun, Sr Lucy Conway OSsR (pictured above), at their monastery in Saint Alphonsus Road in Dublin 9. The nuns at the monastery are neighbours of mine and I celebrate the Eucharist for them regularly. Sr Lucy's profession follows on from the recent first profession in the same community of Sr Maura Walsh. As you can imagine this event is one of significant importance to this enclosed contemplative community. I am deep in admiration for these nuns who four or five years ago had no vocations and were facing a very uncertain future. Their commitment to prayer and a deep desire to attract vocations has resulted in the fact that this community of thirteen nuns now has five of its members in formation. This is a truly remarkable achievement and a reminder to all religious orders, congregations, societies and dioceses in this country that if there is a will and a deep desire to foster, nourish and attract vocations then tremendous things can happen.
Photo by Cyril Byrne: Brothers Tony Rice CSsR, Brian Nolan CSsR and Seán Duggan CSsR.
Meanwhile, Patsy McGarry reported in yesterday’s The Irish Times that three men made their final profession as Redemptorists in Dublin last Sunday:
They included Tony Rice (31) from Belfast. Educated at the Belfast Royal Academy he was a customer adviser with Abbey National before joining the Redemptorists in 2001.
Seán Duggan (29) is from Galway city where his parents run a family business in Renmore. He attended secondary school at St Joseph’s Patrician College in Galway, later graduating with a bachelor of corporate law degree from NUIG. He entered the Redemptorists in 2001.
The third man to make his final profession was Brian Nolan (30) from Limerick city. He attended secondary school at St Clement’s College, and studied at the Limerick Institute of Technology for two years, receiving a diploma in computer engineering. He worked in electronics for a year before joining the Redemptorists in 2000.
Another Redemptorist story was featured in The Irish Times on 14 February as Lorna Siggins reported on the annual novena in honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Galway Cathedral. This is a novena in the strict sense, ie, nine days, unlike the perpetual novena in honour of Our Lady of Perpetual Help that is so popular here in the Philippines since it was introduced by the Redemptorists in 1946 and which Filipinos have now brought to other countries.
The Irish Times has an excellent slideshow on the Galway novena here.
Ironically, the Redemptorists formally left Bacolod City, where I'm based, yesterday, handing over their church and monastery to the Diocese of Bacolod. The Irish Redemptorists came here around 1950. In 1996 the Vice-Province of Ireland, which covered the central and southern Philippines, became a separate province. Luzon is still a vice-province of Australia. As far as I know, the basic reason for the decision of the Redemptorists to leave Bacolod is lack of vocations to their congregation here in the Philippines.
May St Patrick, patron saint of Ireland and of Nigeria, who wasn't Irish, obtain the grace of a renewal of faith in Ireland.