My Vocation Story
My name is Ciaran Carragher and I grew up in the small village of Burren, just outside Warrenpoint, in Co. Down, Northern Ireland. During my childhood years, my parents always made sure that my three brothers and I went to Mass on Sundays, and encouraged us to pray every morning and night. This is something that I tried to keep up as I moved into my adult years but there were long periods where I neglected my prayer life and lived as though God didn’t even exist. I worked hard during the week and would spend my full weekend socalising and trying to have a good time.
When I look back, I can honestly say that although I went to Mass, I didn’t really know my faith at all. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I started to realise that there was something missing. By this stage in my life I had a good group of friends, I enjoyed my work, and life seemed good but still something was missing. I wasn’t at peace. I made the decision to start going to daily Mass to try to get closer to God. I then started to pray the Rosary daily and try to learn more about my Catholic faith. It wasn’t long after I had made this decision that, for some reason, I had the urge to go to Medjugorje. I didn’t know much about Medjugorje at the time, I just knew that I wanted to go.
It was in May of 2015 that I finally embarked on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. At that time life was good. I was happy and felt fulfilled in my work. I had two jobs that I really enjoyed. I was a personal trainer, and I also worked as a firefighter in the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service. But little did I know that this trip to Medjugorje was to mark a major turning point in my life.
I travelled to Medjugorje not really knowing what to expect but when I arrived, I could tell that it truly was a special place. I was struck by faith of the people there. They lived their faith in a very real and authentic way. The holy sacrifice of the Mass was the centre of their lives, along with adoration of Jesus, truly present, in the Blessed Sacrament. The full Rosary was also recited daily. I could not ignore the great sense of peace that I experienced there. It was a peace that I have not experienced anywhere else. But, although I really enjoyed my trip I can remember leaving at the end of the week to travel home and thinking,
`It was great to be here and to experience this beautiful place but I have done it now and I don’t think that I will be back`. For me it was just something that I wanted to do, a
box ticked so to speak. Id been there, done it, seen it, so it was time to move on.
I arrived home and went back to work as normal. It wasn’t until about two weeks after I arrived home that I noticed a change. I arose one morning to go to work and for some reason I could not stop thinking about Medjugorje. All of a sudden, I could not wait to go back there. But, something else was happening within me that I could not explain. At the same time as I was being overcome with a desire to return to Medjugorje, I felt as if I was being
bombarded with thoughts about Priesthood. I could not stop thinking about the possibility of one day being a Priest. This continued for a number of months, so I eventually booked my second trip to Medjugorje for Easter 2016 and returned again in August 2016 for a third time. By this stage I was trying to find out more about Priesthood and asking myself
is this really what God is asking of me?
It was while I was in Medjugorje on my third trip that I first heard about The Pallottine Fathers. I had never heard of them before, but every day of that trip I would happen to hear someone talking about them or speaking very highly of them. Towards the end of that week a priest who knew that I was discerning a possible call to Priesthood also suggested that I should contact the Pallottines. So, I contacted them on my arrival home from Medjugorje and that was the beginning of a two year period of discernment. I took part in a number of vocations weekends in the Pallottine house in Dublin and I felt at home straight away. That same real, authentic faith that I witnessed in the people of Medjugorje, I also found with the Pallottines. I could see that the centre of their lives was the Holy Mass and adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It was also evident that they had a strong devotion to Our Blessed Mother, Mary.
I entered the Pallottine community on 1st September 2018 and I am now beginning my third year of studies. There will be plenty of challenges along the way but I do believe that I have been led to the Pallottine Fathers through the hands of Mary, Our Blessed Mother, and She will intercede for me with her Son Jesus, not only during good times but also in times of struggle. This past two years in the Pallottine community have been a real blessing for me where I have grown in my faith, and as a person. No-one can know what the future holds in store, but I do believe that I am exactly where God wants me to be and for that I am very thankful.