THE FORMATION PROCESS
Above all else, this first step allows a inquirer to get to know the Order of Preachers and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic. The Master of Novices, Provincial Promoter, and others will help the inquirer to discern whether or not he may have a Dominican vocation to the Priestly Fraternity. If there is a positive response at the end of this step, the candidate will be invited to proceed to the next step, the aspirancy.
Through a series of meetings, ranging from six to twelve months, the Master of Novices, Provincial Promoter, and others will present an overview of what it means to be a Dominican and to belong to the Priestly Fraternity. As this period of formation ends, the candidate may decide to request admission to the Order.
Priests are received into the Order by a special sacred rite called vestition. The novitiate begins with this rite and normally lasts for one year, unless the superior of the Order grants a dispensation. The novitiate is a preparatory period during which the novices come to understand more clearly the nature of a Dominican vocation. They experience the Priestly Fraternity’s way of life, are trained—in mind and heart—in the Dominican spirit, that their intention and suitability may be ascertained. The novice is free to leave the Priestly Fraternity if he desires.
All who are received into the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic begin to belong to the Dominican Family by the Rite of Vestition and become members of the chapter in order to live their life according to the spirit and charism of St. Dominic. On the day of vestition, priests may gain a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions.
The novitiate includes diverse formational activities: the study of the life of St. Dominic and other great Dominicans; the study of the Dominican Constitutions, the history of the Order of Preachers, and the Rule of the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic; and the general practices of the diocesan priesthood as required by the Rule.
Once the novitiate is completed, and the previous consent of a majority of the fraternity council has been obtained, novices may be admitted to profession. By this act, which proceeds from a lively faith and a deeper consciousness of their Baptism and Ordination, they promise to make their lifestyle subject to a special rule of perfection and become sons of St. Dominic. Priests who make profession in the Order promise that they will live according to the Rule of the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic until death. The term “profession” is used differently in the rite for religious (e.g., the friars) than it is used for the members of the Priestly Fraternity. The term as used in the Priestly Fraternity indicates the intention of taking up the evangelical way of life by priests who, joined to the Order by their proper bond, participate in its spirit and mission, according to the form of living in the world adapted by the Order to their secular status.
By virtue of this profession, accepted and ratified by the Order in the name of the Church, priests become fully and definitively members of the Dominican Family, and enjoy its spiritual benefits. Professed members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic are fully and definitively incorporated into the Order, whereby they are directly subject to the Master of the Order and, as partakers in a common vocation, serve the mission of the Order in the world in a special way. Professed members who, motivated by a desire for a greater consecration of themselves, want to practice the evangelical counsels through the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, can make these vows freely and privately.
Dominicans are particularly committed to ongoing formation both in the chapter and individually. Even though one has made a permanent commitment to be a Dominican, ongoing study continues in the area of Dominican spirituality, the Scriptures, the teaching of the Church, etc. Dominicans are always concerned about growing in understanding of both their Faith and their Dominican vocation. See OUR LIFE to read more about this ongoing formation.
1 • Inquiry
2 • Aspirancy
3 • Novitiate
4 • Profession
If you are a diocesan priest who has a spirit of prayer, a zeal for the salvation of souls, love for the Sacred Scriptures, an appreciation of study and learning, a desire to communicate the Word of God, and an admiration of and affection for the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, you might be called to become a “Dominican Diocesan Priest” in the Order of Preachers through the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic. Click CONTACT US and get in touch with a chapter prior or the Provincial Promoter.