Being called to Dominican life
Steps in becoming a Dominican
Today young people are in an authentic search for the Dominican vocation, in order to join some 6500 friars and 32 000 apostolic sisters and cloistered nuns working in 83 countries. The different steps that bring a friar to a definitive commitment in the Dominican Order (or Order Preachers) are simple; they are directed toward a fundamental objective: to permit the coherent and progressive integration of the principles that make up Dominican life.
First Step: Getting to know one another
The first step, above all else, permits the candidate to better get to know the Order. This is normally done through regular meetings with one of the local vocations directors. The vocations director will enable further contact with other Dominican communities with varied lifestyles as well as help the candidate discern whether or not he is made for Dominican life. If there is a positive response at the end of this step then the candidate will be invited to proceed to the next step: postulancy.
Second Step: Postulancy
The candidate who aspires to become a Domincan is invited to live in a Priory (community of friars) for at least three months before the beginning of the novitiate. During the time of the postulancy the candidate can keep his job and/or continue to pursue studies. At the same time, this step permits a progressive integration into the life of a community: prayer, meals, community meetings, times for renewal and formation. The candidate is invited to undertake activities that engage him at both the social and pastoral levels.
During the postulancy a formation program is established by whoever is responsible for the postulancy. Monthly meetings of all the postulants are planned. These meetings develop fundamental themes such as the catechism, Dominican spirituality, particular areas of personal growth and affective maturity. At the end of the postulancy experience the community, or representatives of the community, is invited to offer an opinion on the admittance of the candidate to the novitiate.
Third Step: Novitiate
The duration of the novitiate is 12 months. The novitiate begins every year on the 1st of August and lasts until the 8th of August of the following year. This time of retreat allows future friars (ordained or not) to know Dominican life more intimately than before. Through the daily shared experience with other novice brothers, those in charge of formation (Novice Master and the assistant) and the members of the welcoming community, the novice progressively discovers the major identity traits of the Dominican identity.
This period of 12 months includes diverse activities: the study of the life of St. Dominic and other great Dominican figures; the study of the Constitutions and the history of the Order; an introduction to the Bible, to personal and community prayer and liturgy; an elaboration of apostolic activities; visits to different Dominican communities and meetings with brothers and sisters in various apostolates.
The end of the novitiate is marked with the “simple profession” (for a period of three years) on the occasion of the Feast of St. Dominic, August 8th.
Fourth Step: Academic Studies
After the novitiate, the new friar integrates into a community of formation, usually the Couvent St-Jean-Baptiste d’Ottawa. Although integrated into the life of the community itself, the friars in formation form a more limited community called the “studendate” where one finds the space to consolidate the values acquired thus far. This new step corresponds to institutional studies pursued at the Dominican College of Philosophy and Theology in view of attaining bachelor and then graduate degrees in theology.
Fifth Step: Integration
This step usually marks an interruption. In keeping with certain objectives it is more profitable for future clerics to take this step at the end of a first degree in theology. This step consists of a pastoral placement that allows the friar to appropriate and apply theological learning to concrete needs and situations. This step also permits the friar in formation to reflect on his apostolic motivations and to clarify theological questions before undertaking the last step of studies.