Often, people tend to jumble religious Orders together into one group; without differentiating their specific charism. This not only does a disservice to the individual Order, but to the Church as a whole. Each Order brings with it a specific gift to the greater body of the Church. So, what distinguishes the Dominicans from any other Roman Catholic religious Order? Four specific aspects or pillars set us apart from other Orders.
Prayer is a reference point through which we all better know God. The Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours are the essential elements of Dominican prayer. The gift of the Holy Rosary also has a special place in our life. Each friar must also embrace personal prayer, essential to our life and preaching. Some set aside a specific part of the day, others a specific location in which they choose to pray, study the Gospel, read literature, write down thoughts or meditate. But no matter what form it takes, each friar regularly and religiously sets aside part of every day for contemplation.
The integral nature of Dominican community life lies in the fact that the community continually shapes, supports and challenges each friar. More than just residences, a Dominican community (priory) is a home – a place where the friar lives, prays, recreates and continually encounters Christ in his brothers. Because of this, it is often the starting point for preaching.
“St Dominic included study ordained to the ministry of salvation as part of the essential plan for our Order … before all else our study should aim principally and ardently at this, that we might be able to be useful for the souls of our neighbors”. These words, taken from the Dominican Constitutions clearly illustrate the high value the Order has historically placed on study. Our student brothers spend at least five years in graduate theological studies preparing for full-time ministry. Even after the end of initial formation and the beginning ministry a friar’s commitment to study and his ongoing formation will continue throughout his Dominican life.
Preaching the Word is the first priority of the Southern Dominican Province. Each friar is actively involved in preaching. We take very seriously the honor and responsibility that come with preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Dominican legacy calls us to preach the truth of the Gospel, first and foremost. Our lives of prayer, study and community provide the environment for Dominican preaching to grow and take root.
The Catholic Church in the South needs more Dominican priests and brothers. Is God calling you to be a Dominican Friar (priest or brother)?