Dominican friars in Britain have only seven years to raise £1 million following a rise in vocations.
The order, which will celebrate its 800th anniversary in 2016, has launched a training fund to accommodate a revival in its popularity.
A fundraising booklet released by the Dominican order says: “By our estimate, the seven years of training before priestly ordination costs about £115,000 for one friar. Currently 12 men are in training for the English Province, and new vocations are coming all the time. This is good news, but it means considerable costs for us.”
Samuel Burke, who is a trained barrister and 28 years old, entered the novitiate in September 2012. He said: “I entered the Dominicans because I felt the Lord was calling me ‘to put out into the deep’ and join a joyful and dynamic group of Friars Preachers who preach the Gospel in all they do.
“The Dominican life of prayer, community, study and preaching proves to be one great adventure into the love of God. We preach Jesus Christ. We preach sacred truth. What could be a more exciting mission in a world where so many people have lost faith, hold little hope, and long for real love? Almost two years into the Order, I’ve never been happier. I am blessed.”
In an effort to raise funds, Mr Burke and four other Dominicans will be embarking upon a coast-to- coast walk in July, covering 190 miles in 14 days across the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales and Moors.
The Dominicans currently serve London, Oxford, Cambridge, Leicester, Newcastle, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow as well as Grenada. Formation takes place over seven years, with the first year spent in Cambridge and the remaining six in Oxford.
The fundraising booklet states: “In a secular age which has little understanding of religion, our abilities in this area are very much in demand, and we are widely involved in preaching, teaching, giving talks, writing books, and much more.
“As priests we provide day-to-day spiritual care, but we also involve ourselves in practical charity for people in need, working with lay people to make sure funds are raised and physical needs are met.”
The Dominican order, formally known as the Order of Preachers, hopes that the sponsored walk will also provide an opportunity for evangelisation along the way.
The walking group will include Cambridge friars Richard Finn and Benedict Jonak and Toby Lees, who is currently training for the order.
Members of the churchcongregation from Blackfriars, Cambridge, will support the friars who are also encouraging people to walk alongside them for all or part of the route.
To keep up to date on the friars’ progress you can visit their blog Godzdogz.op.org. If you would like to donate or join the walk you can visit Friarswalk.wordpress.com/about.