Saturday, January 30, 2016

Spring in the air!

The beginning of February is traditionally associated with the heralding of the start of spring and the arrival of fertility to the land. The land dormant during the winter months begins to stir and new life embarks on its journey towards the light. Precious seeds, deep within the soil are germinating, awaiting the breath of spring to accompany them to the earth’s surface.

These are days when we are invited into our own spring space – a space where new life is stirring, awakening and becoming, a space full of potential and possibility. These are days of rebirth and re-growth, of renewal and resurrection. Then with their first appearance they adorn the earth with their beautiful presence and remind us of resurrection.

The 1st of February marks the feast of St. Brigid, patroness of Ireland, and we celebrate this great woman of prayer and her great devotion to God and neighbour. She dedicated her life to God and to the poor. She became known for her good works and many young women were inspired to follow her.

The following day is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. We conclude a year of celebration for Consecrated Life as we celebrated the many priests, brothers and sisters whose faith, devotion and commitment influenced many of our lives. We remembered the young men and women who continue to discern a call to priesthood or religious life. We continue to pray for them all and thank God for their lives of quiet dedication.
We also celebrate the feast of St. Blaise on the 3rd of February, whose life was very simple and ordinary. He is known worldwide for his care of those who were sick and particularly those with ailments of the throat. Many churches will give a blessing on the day. If you can't make it to a church, then our own quiet prayer to St. Blaise will be just as effective and important. 

At the beginning of spring, maybe now's the time to go deeper in your discernment journey...

I'm always available at if you'd like more information.


Sunday, January 24, 2016


I recently went to see the film, “Room" which I thought was excellent. There is an intimacy about the film that engaged me from start to finish. It was tense and emotional and at times it brought up strong feelings for me.

 ROOM tells the extraordinary story of Jack, a lively five-year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted mother. Like any good mother, Ma dedicated herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, showering him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories.

 Their life is anything but typical. They are confined in a sparsely furnished and cramped garden shed which Ma named “Room”. It had a small skylight that allowed some semblance of nature to enter. Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room; she will stop at nothing to ensure that Jack, even in this dangerous environment will be able to live a complete and fulfilling life. Ma lives for her son Jack who is a bright, energetic, healthy bundle of joy. The affection of a mother for her son in such dire circumstances comes across very strongly in the film.  

As Jack gets older, it dawns on Ma that he is becoming increasingly more curious. Old Nick, their captor cannot be trusted and they enact a risky plan to escape. The outcome is a successful one but it brings both mother and son face–to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world. Being free is one thing. Actually feeling free is another. And the story continues…

I found the film challenging and it left me pondering some questions. What do I really need to live? Why are kids so amazingly resilient when under duress? How does a parent cope when their child begins to outgrow their need for them?

I think Director Lenny Abrahamson could not have chosen a better pairing than Brie Larson, who played the role of Ma brilliantly, and Jacob Tremblay, a small wonder whose great gift is his natural ability to play the character Jack.

In the end, we are rightfully left once more with mother and child. Together, they are able to close the door on the past and look to the future that is just dawning. It is a film worth seeing if you haven’t already done so while it is still on general release.   


Monday, January 18, 2016

Looking for a New Challenge!

Four Presentation Brothers Novices with Brs. Martin & Barry.

Vocations Ireland is delighted to have recently received a grant from Conrad Hilton Foundation. As a member of the executive of vocations Ireland, it gives us the opportunity to plan and develop new programmes towards the growth in understanding of the call to religious life and ultimately to a growth in vocations. Vocations Ireland is an association of vocation directors of religious orders in Ireland. We 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.

We have a tentative plan for the first half of 2016. It includes a programme for vocations promotion, media training for vocation directors, discernment programmes for those interested in religious life through initiatives such as Samuel Groups, ExploreAway residential week-ends and spiritual accompaniment. 

We hope to have new initiatives to address vocation promotion in schools, information and reflection days for religious education teachers and youth leaders to help them understand something about religious congregations in Ireland, the ministries in which they are engaged in and the meaning of a call to religious life today.

Responding to Pope Francis invitation to religious Brothers and Sisters to ‘wake up the world’, it is right and fitting that we celebrate consecrated life and invite men and women to join us in celebrating and offering a response to Pope Francis invitation for 2016 to be a Holy Year of Mercy highlighting the Catholic Church’s mission to be a witness of mercy in the missionary life of the Church.

If you are considering a vocation to religious life, don’t hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an email at your convenience;    

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The January Blues

Let’s be honest, January is a gloomy old month. It’s back to school and work. The days are short, cold, wet and dreary. Spring seems an age away. And if you are prone to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), you will be struggling with the lack of light, which makes it even a greater challenge. The ‘January Blues’ is an expression often used to express such feeling at this time of year.
Trying to get motivated and energetic during these days can be challenging. If you’re feeling out-of-sorts, it’s really important to break this cycle and remind yourself that life, not all bad, is full of beauty and opportunities for enjoyment, if one looks out for them. Try a simple exercise by keeping a diary and note the pleasant events that occur every day, however small or insignificant.

Maybe taking up a new interest, something you have put off and never got around to doing can be helpful. It may be something as simple as joining a group, going for a walk and enjoying the beauty of nature that God has given us in abundance, going to a film with a friend, reading a book, hearing a child laugh, saying a wee prayer or noticing a beautiful sunrise on your way to work. The point is that if you actually make an effort to look out for opportunities to feel good, however small, you will realise that your day is packed with glorious moments, if you let yourself experience them to the full.

I mentioned above joining a group. Consider the popular Alpha Course which will run again at our house here in Mt. St. Joseph, beginning Tuesday, February 9, 2016 from 7.00 – 8.30pm. It is an excellent way to help people grow in their faith. Why not come along the first night, just come as you are. It’s a very relaxed and enjoyable experience and a great way to meet new people.

We ask God to begin us safely on our journey through another new year.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Hope for 2016!

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla were in the news recently. They made a pledge to their new-born daughter Max that they would devote more than 90 per cent of their huge wealth, some 45 billion dollars to the advancement of humankind with a particular focus on education and health.

In a promise to their daughter they said: “Today your mother and I are committed to spend our lives doing our small part to help solve these challenges…these issues are too important to wait until you or we are older to begin this work.”

Not only do they wish their child to grow up in a better world, but other children too. It is an encouraging story at the start of 2016, a commitment to help remake a troubled world. It allows us to hope that 2016 will be a new year in real terms for some at least.

In a recent BBC religious broadcast, Professor Alister Mc Grath from Northern Ireland spoke of our need for hope – not as a na├»ve and shallow optimism - but as a robust and secure confidence that there is something good, there is someone good, who will triumph over despair and hopelessness.  One of my new year resolutions is to try to be that person of hope for others in 2016? What is yours?

May we have a happy & prosperous New Year!