Always have charity for one another.
It is impossible for Jesus to appear to those who separate themselves from the community.
-Bl. Jordan of Saxony, Second Master of the Order
saints and blesseds
Following in the footsteps of our Holy Father Dominic, the Order has been richly adorned with a great diversity of saints and blesseds: theologians, mystics, reformers, servants, missionaries and martyrs. Some are well-known, such as Thomas Aquinas and Catherine of Siena. Others shine brightly from hidden places, rewarding only a select few who discover them with their light. All burn brightly with the contemplative spirit, the apostolic zeal of Dominic.
Since the beginning of the Order, the Friar-Preacher has been obliged by his vocation to go forth into the world and rescue souls; thus he is often deprived of the shelter of his convent and the strength afforded by the observances of regular life. St. Dominic knew full well the difficulties his sons would encounter; he therefore provided the needful remedies long before they entered upon their laborious career. Before organizing his army, he built his arsenal.
At the feet of Our Lady of Prouille, he pondered over the conditions of the work. In view of this, he too could say to himself, "it is not good for man to be alone; let us make him a help like unto himself." Thus, he seemed to see two branches from the same tree, two choirs that chanted in harmony, two works that were really one. It was apostolic activity based on contemplation, and contemplation based on activity. Today, the Dominican family has grown to include apostolic sisters, laity, priestly fraternities and secular institutes; all are embraced in the hearts, lifted in the praying hands, and brought before God in prayer by Dominican nuns. Learn more about the Dominican monasteries of nuns in North America.
The Friars, both priests and cooperator brothers, profess the vow of obedience and embrace poverty and chastity. While priests are ordained for the ministry of the Sacraments, brothers minister according to their talents and abilities in other ways. Ministries among the Friars include itinerant preaching, parish and campus ministry, teaching in schools and universities, catechetical formation, social work, health care, the arts, internal administration, and much more.
Provinces of Dominican Friars in the United States
Throughout the history of the Order, women have responded to Dominic’s vision in numerous ways. Some have gathered in monasteries, others have formed into groups devoted both to prayer and social outreach. In time, some of these groups remained lay Dominicans, others became secular institutes, while still others became congregations of Dominican sisters. These congregations, recognized as belonging to the Order by the Master of the Order, retain various degrees of independence and autonomy.
Apostolic sisters are active, vowed religious women who are organized into individual congregations. The basis of all their activity is the primary ministry of preaching, although it may manifest itself in many forms: missionary work, teaching, social work, and so on. Like the other branches of the Dominican family, the sisters pray the Liturgy of the Hours, observe a regular practice of prayer and study, and live in community.
There are many ways of being a Dominican. From the beginning of the Order, men and women felt moved to help Dominic’s mission of preaching and join in as they could while still living with their families or continuing in their way of life. Already by the end of the thirteenth century, these friends of the Order and groups of lay people who resonated with Dominican spirituality were invited to become officially aggregated to the Order by adopting a Rule of Life approved by the Master of the Order and suited to their circumstances.
By adopting the Rule, lay Dominicans committed not only to living holy lives and doing works of charity, but also to being a part of the preaching mission of the Order.
The priestly fraternities of St. Dominic are diocesan priests who are formally affiliated to the Order of Preachers through a Rule of life that they profess, and so strive for evangelical perfection under the overall direction of the Dominican friars.
Along with the special grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which helps them to perform the acts of the sacred ministry worthily, they receive new spiritual help from the profession, which makes them members of the Dominican Family and sharers in the grace and mission of the Order, to the sure advantage of the local and universal Church.
While the Order provides them with these spiritual aids and directs them to their own sanctification, it leaves them free for the complete service of the local Church, under the jurisdiction of their own Bishop.
The Order of Preachers offers lay people who feel called to a radical way of living the Gospel without leaving their way of life the fresh idea of Secular Institutes, a way of Consecrated Life recognized by the Church in 1947. Members consecrate themselves to the Lord by living the Evangelical Counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience in a form adapted to their way of life which is fully involved in the world, without living together but with a real sense of community.