Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Blessed Christmas!

Adoration of the Shepherds, Gerard van Honthorst, 1622.
All the hustle and bustle is coming to an end. Christmas has arrived!
To all of you who are discerning your vocation in life and feel called to religious brotherhood - in the peace of these days, I hope that you will be able to hear the whisper of Christ all the more clearly.
A happy Christmas to one and all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

On the Road to Emmaus...

Sr Mary Condon (Bon Secours) bends my ear...

I attended my first AGM recently of Vocations Ireland at the Emmaus Retreat Centre in Dublin and ended up with a job- on the National Executive, representing religious brothers. The Executive is composed of representatives from the different "types" of congregations of, e.g. contemplatives, missionaries, apostolic orders.

Vocations Ireland is an organisation which supports vocations directors and also promotes vocations to religious life. Over 100 religious orders are members. The Director is a Loreto Sister, Sr Eileen Linehan.

Vocations Ireland has a pretty good website. Take a look -

The New Vocations Ireland Executive: (left to right) Br Pat Lynch (Franciscan), Sr Gabrielle Fox (OLA), me, Sr Phyllis Moynihan (Mercy), Sr Mary Condon (Bon Secours), Sr Eileen Linehan (Loreto), Andrew O'Connell (our communications director).

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas is Coming...

Br Bernard gives me a hand with the decorations outside our front door in Glasthule

I love Christmas time and here in the Brothers' House, we put up our decorations just like anyone else.

The Advent Wreath has been up for a while and this morning we put up the wreaths and put out the poinsettia plants.

As Perry Como would sing, "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

If you'd like to find out more about our way of life as Presentation Brothers give me a shout at

It had to be just right...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Lights

With friends from the local Harold N.S. at the switching on of the lights

The parish of St Joseph here in Glasthule was a hive of activity when we switched on the Christmas lights. A huge crowd filled the front yard of the presbytery, across the road from our own house for the annual event.

Hymns sung by the students from the local Harold National School brought a bit of warmth to a very frosty Advent night.

It's a reminder for me to put up the Christmas decorations here too...

With the Maddens outside St Joseph's Presbytery in Glasthule

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Open House Day

Thanks a million to the more than two hundred people who visited us after Masses in Glasthule this weekend. It was a lovely gesture of support. We hope you all enjoyed your time with us and that you got a good opportunity to see the newly renovated house.

With Ann Maree Quinn and Rachel Byrnes in the function room on Sunday.
Choir members from the Family Mass Group..

The Gleeson Family who were visiting the parish from Australia.

The Family Mass Group from the 10.15am Mass in Glasthule.

Sheila McLoughlin and Lisa Murphy who helped out at the weekend.

Anne Maree Quinn, Angela Byrnes and Celine Hoyeau.

Enjoying the Open Day

Friday, December 4, 2009

Open House!

Part of my mission is to help people to learn more about the vocation of the religious brother. Inviting people to see where we live is a practical way of doing that is . So, this weekend (Sat and Sun, 5th and 6th of December), I'll be inviting massgoers in St Joseph's Parish Church, Glasthule, to call in for a tour of the house and for refreshments.
Now, I've got to get back to cleaning the carpets!
Mass times in Glasthule: 6.30pm (Sat. Vigil), 10.15am (Family Mass), 11.30am, 12.30pm.
[Above: The Presentation Brothers House in Glasthule]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thoughts and Prayers...

With the release of the Dublin Report, my thoughts and prayers are with all those who suffered at the hands of clergy and religious. There are no words to express the revulsion and sadness I'm feeling this evening. All I can offer, for what they're worth, are my thoughts and my prayers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Spirit of Pres

It's been a busy few days and I'll update you on everything during the week. Heading down to Cobh early in the morning to speak to Transition Years, Leaving Certs and First Years about vocation.

On Friday I told you that I was in Bray for the annual Presentation Day school Mass. Matthew Molloy, a student at Pres, delivered the following address. It's worth reading:

"We have gathered here today as one entity, one distinct and prestigious unit. We not only commemorate the roots of all Pres. schools, nourished primarily by Edmund Rice, but celebrate the unmatched spirit, the embodiment of the Pres. ethos that still reigns prominent to this day within its walls.We acknowledge the truest values that Pres. has inspired in our lives so far and also the prominence of these in our lives to come.

A pinnacle of learning, our social development, creativity and community, Pres. recognises and aids both personal and collective talents and is understanding of all forms of individualism. The personal and spiritual development is also a key emphasis specified in the schools' ethos.My time in Pres. has revealed the value of self-belief and self-confidence and the personal freedoms to achieve these are not only encouraged but further inspired.

Our own free will may be, at times, hindered by "rules" and obligations, but we recognise their need on the bases of fairness and equalities - "no running in the corridors!", "homework due on Monday!", "no messing in class!", and, on the soccer pitch, no handling the ball intentionally to get ahead, and then blatantly apologising afterwards!

The Pres. family is one of the greatest versatility. Variety, in all its forms, is immense and dispersed throughout our student body. Whoever we are and whatever our interests, we all find a place to fit in, to belong. We have our Barts, Millhouses, Nelsons and Ralphs, our Cartmans, Kyles, Stans and Kennys, our Charlies, Alans and Jakes.

I truly believe that we are all a product of our cumulative experiences. My experiences here in Pres. could be classed under many headings - good, bad, some challenging, others bringing to mind memories of great joy and contentment, others of disappointment and failure.

C.S Lewis, the creator and idealist, got it right when he said that "experience is the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, by God, you learn."

Life is not built upon a pillar of sand. Sometimes it rains and floods follow. We are vulnerable, our legs are taken from under us. Life is built, mos fruitfully, on a multitudes of all degrees of experience. In Pres., we know that we will always have a permanent, unwavering hand to pull us back on our feet. Pres. is a sturdy foundation for us all to accumulate our bricks upon, even if we don,t as yet acknowledge it.

Today, we give thanks for the life that Pres. has inspired in us. We pray that the new school Trust, replacing the Presentation Brothers as the stewards of our schools, will endeavour in providing the highest levels of education. We ask God's blessing on all our brother schools, and on, in particular, the Presentation school in Ghana, to which we are intrinsically linked.

For 5 years I have attended this very mass and have not, as yet, heard a satisfactory definition of "The Spirit of Pres." I am only now realising that no simple definition exists - it encompasses countless lives, histories and mores of individuals dispersed throughout Ireland and the world.

We pray for all here present. We treasure the friendships that have flourished during our time here - those based upon truth, sincerity and openness. An ancient, biblical proverb tells us that "friends always show their love. What are brothers for it not to share troubles."

We pray for our fraternal friendships and for the sustenance and continuity of Pres.- a beacon of all that we hold close to our hearts."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pres Day

The preparations for Pres Day have commenced!! Tomorrow, November 21st, is one of the biggest days of the year for a Presentation Brother. It is our annual Feast Day. Each year it is
marked in different ways by the Brothers and our lay colleagues and friends all over the world.

This morning, I went to Bray to attend a special Mass for the students of Presentation College. There were some 600 youngsters in the church and it was a great experience. Afterwards I was invited to say a few words to the lads about "The Spirit of Pres". I pointed to them and told them that they were the Spirit of Pres and they are the ones responsible for it living on in Bray.

(Above: With Mr. Gerry Duffy, Principal Presentation College, Bray)

I'm driving off to Cork now with Brothers Bernard and Valerius. More tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Farewell to a Brother...

There are a number of reasons why we call ourselves Brothers. One reason is that it defines the manner in which we try to relate to other people. However, it also describes how we relate to one another within our religious congregation. So, when Brother Joe Nealon passed away last week, it felt as though a brother had died.

Br. Joe lived in Cork and was a native of Co. Limerick. He taught for many years in Scoil Chriost Ri in Turner's Cross in Cork city. He was laid to rest at the Brothers' cemetery at Mount St Joseph on Saturday.

Eternal Rest Grant Unto Him O Lord.

Monday, November 16, 2009

To Bray....

I started the week in Presentation College Bray this morning. At 11am I spoke to the First Year students and at noon I met the Leaving Certificates. The talks went well.

The Transition Year students in Pres Bray have been busy over the last few weeks preparing a mural - 7 feet tall and 24 feet long - on the history of Presentation education. It has been prepared to mark the launch of the Presentation Brothers Schools Trust (PBST) in Cork next Saturday.

The lads did a trial run of the speech which they will deliver during the launch ceremony. The speech is great and the mural looks fantastic. Looking forward to seeing the reaction on Saturday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Back to School Time

I started my first round of visits to schools today. Accompanied by our communications director, Andrew O'Connell, I called to Presentation Brothers College, Cork to speak to the Leaving Certificate students about my life as a religious Brother. I was a Leaving Cert. student in Pres 25 years ago and calling in brought back a lot of memories including all the confusion any 17 year old experiences during that stressful year.

The goal of the talk is to remind the students that religious life is still a viable option for the future. We're not looking for any of these young men to join - all we're doing is planting a seed for the future...

Later in the morning we spoke to the first year students. This is an introduction to the Edmund Rice story and is also an opportunity for these new students to meet and talk to a Presentation Brother.

The morning went really well and the students were respectful and attentive.

Thanks lads! Appreciate it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Take Time Out

Trying to figure out your vocation is a tough job. It's not made any easier by the fact that life is busy and it can be difficult to find the time to stop and think about where your life is heading.
For that reason, three times per year, we offer guys who are serious about discerning their vocation an opportunity to take some "Time Out". It's a great weekend of information and reflection. A chance to have your questions answered and a chance to spend some time praying about the options available.
This weekend we will hold another "Time Out" weekend here in Dublin. For full details check out our website

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New in the Job

How did I end up here!!!

I've been a social worker in Cork, a missionary in the West Indies, a school chaplain and a member of the Provincial Council of my congregation, the Presentation Brothers, but being the Vocations Director is probably going to be my most daunting task.

Everyone I meet is saying it to me- "that's a tough job". I feel like saying "I know!!!"

So, how do I face this job in 2009- one of the most difficult years in living memory for the Church in Ireland.

So, where do I get the strength to do it. Firstly, I believe in my own call. I believe that I was created by God to serve Him and His people in this way, as a religious brother.

Secondly, I believe in religious brotherhood. Religious brotherhood is fundamentally about being a brother to other people, especially the poor and those in need.

Thirdly, I believe in the Presentation Brothers, my religious congregation. I believe that our mission - To Form Christ In The Young - is still relevant today.

Finally, here's what I don't believe in- numbers. My role is not to press gang people into religious life. My role is to help young men to figure out the best path to follow to use their gifts and talents to serve God. However, I will unapologetically, offer religious brotherhood as a great way to achieve this.

Our Congregation is named after the Presentation of Mary. We celebrate her feast day on 21st November. My prayer today is that Mary's Yes at the Annunciation will find an echo in the lives of many Irish men and women in our day.