A decent piece on Dominican vocations in the Province of Ireland and the Eastern Province USA from the (usually execrable) NYT:
CORK, Ireland — The Rev. Gerard Dunne has worked for 12 years essentially as a human-resources recruiter — albeit one in a habit cinched with a dangling wooden rosary — for the ancient order of the Dominican friars. Once, his medieval robes may have deterred some. But today he is convinced that the garment is his greatest selling point for enlisting new priests.
Other religious orders largely stopped wearing their traditional garb in recent years, as they tried to attract new followers in secularizing societies. But the friars deliberately went on wearing the robes and promoting the spiritual benefits of shared prayer and a communal lifestyle — with a little help, too, from a chatty blog.
“We made a conscious decision a few years ago to wear the habit because we had no vocations and we were in a bad way,” said Father Dunne, 46, who estimates that he has traveled nearly a half-million miles along Ireland’s country lanes and highways in search of recruits. “If we didn’t present ourselves in an authentic manner, who would join us? And that meant going back to the fundamentals.”
Very often you will hear comments from friars from a Certain Generation that the current allure of religious life is really all about bad economic times and not a return to traditional Dominican life. . .IOW, increased numbers do not correlate with a desire for a stronger religious identity (habit, community, common prayer, etc.).
In tough economic times, the stability of community may also be appealing, and the resurgence for the Dominicans has coincided with Ireland’s economic crisis. But Father Dunne and others said most potential candidates were already prospering in existing jobs in professional fields, and came to the order because of a yearning for greater spirituality.
[. . .]
Matthew Farrell, 38, a former bartender from County Offaly and a novice, said he had sampled other orders, like the Carmelites. “I’ve been searching a long time for a vocation,” he said. “I wanted to get married or wanted to do something else. I tried to visualize myself as a priest.”
But in the end, he said, the Dominicans won out. “The Dominicans have a lot of enthusiasm and energy,” he said, “and I liked the fact that they wore habits."