Among the appointments within the British Province of Carmelites recently announced
by the Prior Provincial and his Council was the establishment of a Vocations Team. The Team will be convened by a new Vocations Coordinator, Damian Cassidy, O.Carm. (pictured), who takes on the role from Pat O'Keeffe, O.Carm., on 1st August 2011.
The new Vocations Team includes four friars - Fr. Wilfrid McGreal (Prior Provincial), Fr. Damian Cassidy, Bro. Gerard Walsh and Bro. Paul Jenkins - as well as two non-friars, Nick Layton (who works in Catholic communications) and Sr. Gillian Murphy (Sisters of Providence).
As described on the Vocations
section of this website, the role of promoting vocations to the Carmelite way of life is the responsibility of all members of the Order, religious and lay, but the Vocations Team is given the specific mandate of working to promote awareness of Carmel and to accompany young people discerning their vocation, wherever God may be leading them.
The Vocations Team will not simply be 'recruiting' for the Order, but also considering ways in which Carmelites and young people (and indeed Carmelite young people) can interact. As stewards and bearers of Carmelite spirituality, the Order acknowledges the need to share with young adults the rich spiritual tradition of Carmel.
In his letter setting out appointments within the Province, the Prior Provincial wrote that "The Vocations Team will develop an outreach programme to share our life and spirituality with young people. Together with others, they will seek to be present where the young of our Church gather and to be a visible presence among them. This is in response to the call of the Prior General to 'help young people listen to the voice of God in their lives'. The team, together with the Vocations Coordinator, will create times and spaces in which this listening can take place, and will use the many and varied forms of media to invite those who are seeking God's will to ponder their own call and the gift that God is offering them." The Vocations Team will have its first meeting later in the summer.
Fr. Damian, 44, has varied experience of Carmelite life and working with young people. Having grown up near Aylesford Priory
(to which community he now belongs) he has known Carmelites all his life, and made Simple Profession as a friar in 1997. He has worked as Catholic Chaplain at the University of York and at the SPEC
youth service of Westminster Archdiocese. He has experience of parish and retreat ministry in Britain and Canada. In mid-August Damian will be accompanying a group of young people to Madrid for World Youth Day