‘Taster Day’ to Whet Vocation Appetite This Sunday

“What if God is calling me? I’m not sure what to do. How can I discern? Where do I go?” Questions like these will be addressed at a ‘taster session’ for people interested in exploring a religious vocation this Sunday in Dublin.

According to Fr Alan Neville, one of the organisers of ‘ExploreAway’, the afternoon will open up a conversation for people asking these questions with others who are or were in the same boat themselves. The afternoon, this Sunday 26th May 2013 from 2-6pm, at St. Teresa's Church, Clarendon Street, Dublin 2.

ExploreAway is a programme which provides the opportunity for young, single, men and women between the ages of 21-40, to explore religious life. Typically a person will go on a taster afternoon (there are two each year) and if they want to, then sign up for five residential weekends in Dublin which provide input on vocation call, discernment, prayer and religious life, core values and the various ways it is lived.

Last Pentecost Sunday was the final ExploreAway weekend for the 2012 group. Five of the six people who signed up for the course, completed it, Fr Neville told CatholicIreland. Of those, four had decided to explore a religious vocation, one to get married, and one had decided it was not his thing and dropped out.

“The programme is about enabling people to see where God is calling them and then they choose,” he said. “It is not about recruitment but responding to God’s invitation.”

The exploreAway programme has been developed over the past three years by Vocations Ireland. On each residential weekend, speakers from different congregations address the participants. The idea is to bring people together, men and women, who are interested in exploring vocation.

According to Fr Neville having the mixed group is very enriching. “It is fantastic to have a mixture of men and women. It proves to be helpful and works very well. There is a lovely complimentarity to it,” he said.

Young people wishing to attend the exploreAway taster afternoon tomorrow can still do so but should ring Sr. Gabrielle on 087-3584447 or Fr. Alan on 085-7664480 by Sunday lunchtime to book a place.

Yesterday Vocations Ireland had its summer seminar. According to Anne Marie Gallagher, Director of the organisation, although there is a decline in vocations, people continue to enter religious orders and diocesan priesthood every year. She estimates that annually there are around twenty two new entrants to the religious orders. They tend to be older, more educated and with a greater life and work experience, she says. “You get people with MAs and PHDs,” she told CatholicIreland “and they are usually aged from their mid 20s to mid 30s.”

Among the orders attracting new vocations in the past few years have been, the Dominicans, the Redemptoristines (sisters), the Benedictines at Glenstal, the Cistercians, the Franciscans, the Pallotines, the Carmelites, the Poor Clares and the Dominican Sisters.

by Susan Gately


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