"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

Monday, February 28, 2011

2011/2012 Academic Year Vocation Weekends Announced

The next "Come & See" Vocation Weekends for the 2011/2012 academic year at the Dominican House of Studies are tentatively scheduled:

Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 2011
Dec. 2-4, 2011
Feb. 3-5, 2012
Mar. 30-Apr. 1, 2012 (Palm Sunday)

The last vocation weekend for the current academic year, April 1-3, 2011 is full with a waiting list.  It would be good now to plan ahead and let me know if you would like to come on one of these weekends for the next academic year!  

If you would like to come visit informally to the House of Studies that certainly would also be a possibility.

May the Lord help you to respond generously to His call!

From the Book of Sirach at Today's Mass

To the penitent God provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope and has chosen for them the lot of truth.Return to him and give up sin, pray to the LORD and make your offenses few. Turn again to the Most High and away from your sin, hate intensely what he loathes, and know the justice and judgments of God, Stand firm in the way set before you, in prayer to the Most High God. (...) How great the mercy of the LORD, his forgiveness of those who return to him!

Sports & Religious Life: Following Christ

"Put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds. Put on the new self, created in God's way in holiness and in truth." (Eph 4.22-24)

When one enters religious life, the tradition in our Province is to take a religious name.  My baptismal name is John and I took the religious name "Benedict." While I am still John to my family and friends from my hometown, my new name as a Dominican is "Fr. John Benedict Croell OP," though I go by Fr. Benedict OP.  In some real sense when I entered, John died and now Benedict lives in Christ!  Fr. Gabriel Gillen OP, shown in the video above, has the baptismal name, "Kevin" and took the religious name, "Gabriel."

Taking a religious name when a young man enters religious life is part of the tradition of the Order of Preachers that goes back to the time of St. Dominic.  Certainly there are some things in our previous lives that we no longer do as Dominicans - as St. Paul speaks in the passage from Ephesians (above).  But there are other things that we may have done in the past which continue to be a part of our life as friars preachers, though in a moderated way.  For Fr. Gabriel, well... it is surfing! For other friars it might be playing basketball or tennis, running, lifting weights, playing musical instruments, bicycling, etc.  (Click here for a video of the friars playing a little Mumford & Sons!)

Sporting & other activities in moderation are helpful as religious men because they provide us with a balance in the life of prayer, study & preaching.  Some of these activities which exercise the body can even have a theological context (cf. Dr. Peter Kreeft's writing on Surfing).

Kindly Light Media, a project of our Dominicans, is working on a new surfing documentary called: "I Surf, Therefore I Am."

The video at the top of this post shows Fr. Gabriel when he was home visiting his mother in Florida.  While Fr. Gabriel does not have the opportunity to surf as much as he did before entering the Order, he nevertheless continues to keep up this sport when the opportunity presents itself for the proper balance of body and soul!

Below you will see the world record for the largest wave surfed by navigating a 90-foot wall of water by Garrett McNamara in Portugal that we posted on our provincial YouTube page that has "gone viral!"  Say a prayer for all those surfers who will see it, that the Lord will help them to know the awesome glory of God!

"And His voice was like the sound of many waters."
                                                   -Revelation 1:15

"Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me." 
-Psalm 42:7

Each year the friars of the House of Studies have a softball game against the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in our back yard behind the house (we won this year).

For Thanksgiving we have a "Turkey Bowl" football game.  In April we have a "3 on 3" Basketball tournament among the friars of DHS.  Competition is already starting to be discussed given that we have so many tall friars!  

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wednesday Night Compline at the Dominican House of Studies

Each Wednesday night a group of students from Catholic University of America join our community for compline at 9PM.  There is always someone at the door to let you in on Wednesday evenings.

All of our Offices are open to the public, though unfortunately if you come during the week in the evenings, there may not always be someone at the door.

If you send me a text message, I am always happy to make sure someone is there for you: (202) 642-3597.  You are most welcome!

Here is the Dominican Salve from the friars at San Clemente in Rome (one of the minor basilicas in Rome run by the Irish Dominicans).

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Making Application: The Application Interview

On Monday I am traveling to Ohio and Indiana to meet with two men for  application interviews who are considering to apply for next year's novitiate class.

You should request an application (or "assessment") interview from me if you think the Lord might be calling you to be in next year's novitiate class (this interview will determine if it is possible).

The interview can take up to three hours and allows me to spend some important time with you.  Among a number of things, the interview allows me to determine if there are any canonical impediments or reasons to delay the application process.

Some reasons for delaying an application include: personal debt (house/car/credit card) that cannot be resolved before entering, student loans over the amount the province can absorb (talk with the vocation director), unresolved family and/or personal issues, lack of vocational clarity.

Please pray for the men currently making application for next year's novitiate class as well as for our current novices.

FOR MORE INFO SEE OUR ASPIRANCY GUIDELINES (for men who wish to prepare themselves to enter)

Dominican House of Studies Schola

Schola of the Dominican House of Studies from the Vigil of All Saints.

(click here for the All Saints Vigil 2011 at Dominican House of Studies)

The text of the piece (originally composed by Charles Stanford, and arranged by Rev. Bro. Michael Dominic O’Connor, O.P. who just made his solemn vows & was ordained to the diaconate) is:
Beati quorum via integra est: qui ambulant in lege Domini.
"Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord."

Here is another:

Hinnebusch Family of Dominican Vocations (yes they are all from the same family!)

Fr. Fred Hinnebusch OP is the remaining member of their family who is in retirement here at the Dominican House of Studies. He is a great friar and a great example to the younger brethren of how the common Dominican life helps us to grow in holiness. He is always present at every Office and every Mass.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, Patron of Dominican Vocations

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father.
As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth.
Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be "champions of the Faith and true lights of the world."

Blessed Jordan of Saxony 
(c. 1190-1237), met St. Dominic in 1219 at the University of Paris, entered the Order in 1220, was elected Provincial of Lombardy after one year in the Order, was elected successor to St. Dominic upon the Founder's death in 1221, drew St. Albert the Great and hundreds of young men into the Order, was drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Syria while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, feast day February 13.


Next vocation weekend at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC

Fr. Thomas Joseph White OP: "A Dominican Vocation"

Also see Fr. Thomas Joseph White's talk on Dominican Spirituality at the last vocation weekend.

"Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis"

Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is integral to the Dominican vocation.

My former student master, Fr. Vincent Wiseman OP, who now teaches our friars in formation in Nairobi, wrote this paper on Dominican Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Thirteenth Century.

A vocation to be a Dominican Friar is certainly precious to our Lady who loves her sons so dearly.  Entrust your vocation to Our Lady. She certainly will protect it and help it to mature in your life!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Applying for Entry into the Novitiate

Once you become an aspirant for the Province of St. Joseph, you may discern you would like to make application for entry into the next novitiate class.  The last date to receive an application for entry into the following summer's novitiate class is April 15.

For more important info, see Aspirancy Guidelines which is what we ask men who wish to prepare themselves to enter.

If you decide to apply and you receive an application (after the application interview), one part of the process is interviewing with the four vocation councillors (friars) who assist the vocation director.

Fr. Steve Ryan OP is one of the councillors. Fr. Steve teaches Sacred Scripture at the Dominican House of Studies and runs the popular blog:  Dominican History

St. Dominic, Dominican House of Studies

Words of Encouragement from Fr. James Moore OP

"We need to cast all fears away!"  Fr. James Moore OP is a Dominican Friar from the Province of the Holy Name (Western) who offers some great words to take a risk for the Lord!  He currently is pursuing a doctorate in Sacred Music at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (across the street from the Dominican House of Studies).

www.opwest.org  (Western Province)
www.dominicanfriars.org (Eastern Province)

Back from Our East African Missions

As you know I just returned from Kenya where I was traveling with my provincial on visitation of our Dominican Missions.  It was a great experience for me to be back. In case you missed the email I sent to the men discerning with us here it is again:

Dear Men Considering a Vocation to the Order of Preachers,    "Tumsifu Yesu Kristu!" (Praised be Jesus Christ! in Swahili)

Greetings from our Dominican Missions in Nairobi, KENYA!   

St. Dominic always wanted to go to the missions and in particular to evangelize the barbarians.  He grew a beard (to be accepted by the people) in anticipation of this dream that was never realized for him personally as he struggled to found the Order of Preachers.  Many of his brothers though would be sent by him personally to distant lands. 

The Order of Preachers has an amazing history of great missionaries, many of whom are saints!  St. Dominic's "zeal for the salvation of souls" continues to be fulfilled through the many friars who even today bring the Gospel to distant lands (and in our case here in East Africa to also establish the Order in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Southern Sudan).

3 1/2 years ago I left this land when I finished my 5 year assignment as Novice Master for our Dominican Vicariate of Eastern Africa.  I am now accompanying our provincial on visitation and will return 22 February.  It has been very emotional for me to visit and see my former novices, now deacons, preparing for priesthood.  The Lord has done so much to build up the work of the Order here.

Much has changed in the infrastructure of our missions here; we have a new Dominican House of Studies (St. Dominic's House) in Nairobi for our 18 student brothers, 6 novices and 5 postulants.  We recently built a new school for a project for children who are victims of HIV/AIDS (run by Sisters).  Our parish in Nairobi, St. Catherine of Siena, is preparing to build a church.  I had high hopes to send you updates but it looks like this is all I will be able to accomplish for now!   More photos will appear in edited form on Dominican Daily once I am back.

Though I am half way around the world, you all are in my thoughts and prayers that the Lord will give each of you the courage to move ahead in the next step of discerning your vocation.  

In particular I am remembering those of you considering asking for an application for next year's novitiate class.  The deadline for receiving an application for entry into this summer's novitiate class is 15 March, 2011. If you think the Lord may be calling you to be in the next novitiate class, we should schedule the application interview.

Please continue to pray for Fr. Brian and myself as we continue our visit of the 34 friars who work and live here in our Dominican missions!  PLEASE PRAY FOR THE WORK OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS HERE!

Brief History of the Eastern Province

Cloister at the Dominican House of Studies

My first video uploaded via my cell phone.

My New Year's Eve Letter

My Letter from New Year's Eve (To the Men Discerning with us)

This letter will get you up to par with some great resources about our province and the Order of Preachers. Notice in particular the various links, including the aspirancy guidelines which will help you to understand what we ask of the men discerning with us.

Why a Blog from the Vocation Director?

Here are 19 of the 21 men who came to our last vocation weekend (Feb. 4-6, 2011). (Two were seminarians and preferred not to be photographed).  Say a prayer for these men that the Lord will help them to respond generously to His call!

Well part of the reason I am creating this blog is that as vocation director, I am not an expert on our website (www.DominicanFriars.org) and making posts that go out via the Dominican Daily (of which I would highly encourage all of you to subscribe to stay connected).  This blog will give me a little more control and ease to stay in touch with all of you.  Frankly a blog is an entirely new thing for me. I had tried to update the website myself, but I think those updates are better left for the expert web friars!

I hope this will be easier as I can do it via the vocation director cell phone!

You all are in my prayers that the Lord will continue to guide you.

yours in Our Holy Father St. Dominic,
Fr. Benedict OP
*check out our newest vocations video & a 60 minute interview we did on EWTN Live on Dominican Life
+please say a prayer for our Novices 

Rev. Benedict Croell OP    *mobile: (202) 642-3597
Director of Vocations       (+effective 24 June 2010)
Dominican Vocation Office
487 Michigan Ave., NE
Washington, DC  20017-1585
toll free: (800) 529-1205 

"Lord, look upon our troubled times, which need preachers of the Gospel, witnesses to you, persons who can point the way toward 'life in abundance'! Look upon our world and feel pity once more! Look upon our world and send us laborers!"   Pope Benedict XVI, September 11, 2006