1. Who is eligible to apply?
Clerical candidates are required to have a bachelor’s degree from a four year college or university prior to entering the Order. Cooperator brother candidates are required to be 22 years old, with a high school diploma. All candidates are expected to possess good physical health, psychological and emotional maturity, and the willingness to live with others. New converts to the Catholic faith are normally eligible to apply upon their third anniversary of entering the Church.
2. Is there an age limit?
The age limit for application is normally 35 years old. However, exceptions may be made on an individual basis.
3. I feel nervous about the prospect of religious life and/or priesthood. Should I apply?
It’s natural to feel some anxiety about the possibility of any big life change. Have confidence in God! Good vocational discernment is neither rash, nor excessively prolonged. Keep in mind that it is necessary to accompany prayer with practical steps forward. For example, many men have found that their concerns or misconceptions were alleviated by talking with the brothers during a “Come and See” Discernment Retreat. Contacting the Promoter of Vocations, or making a visit, does not mean that you will be compelled to enter. Learning more about the Dominican vocation, along with seeing the daily life of a friar, are good steps towards making an informed decision. Furthermore, the Novitiate is a time set aside for deeper discernment without the commitment of religious vows.
4. I’m concerned about life-long celibacy. What should I do?
The Apostle Paul provides some practical advice on this matter: “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided…” (1 Corinthians 7:32b-34a). The consecrated religious sacrifices the natural goods of marriage and family to have a heart dedicated to God alone. Without the responsibilities of a spouse and children, Dominican brothers and priests are called to experience the supernatural love that God has for His people through fraternity and spiritual fatherhood. Religious life does not doom one to a life of loneliness. On the contrary, our common life fosters true and genuine friendships among the brothers.
On the topic of chastity, do not lose heart if you experience struggles. Chastity is devalued by our culture, and this can make a life of purity more difficult for many young men. Every Christian is called to chastity, but perfect chastity cannot be achieved in a day. Those considering religious life are especially encouraged to grow in virtue and self-mastery through prayerful devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, frequent confession, and a firm resolution to take up the cross of Christ.
5. I’m currently in a dating relationship. Should I break up with my girlfriend to discern a religious vocation?
This decision requires prayer, prudence, and counsel from a wise priest or spiritual director. Sometimes it requires asking yourself difficult questions: whether or not your current relationship is helping you with the pursuit of holiness, whether it has the serious possibility of Holy Matrimony, and if it is the best way for you to serve the Lord and His Church.
6. I’m not holy. Should I apply?
The religious life is a school of holiness for sinners, not for those who are already perfect. To enter the religious state, a desire to grow in holiness and to preach the Gospel is all that is necessary.
7. I’m currently majoring in a subject other than Philosophy or Theology. Is that a problem?
Not at all. Although you may benefit from a formal background in Philosophy or Theology, brothers come to the Order with a vast diversity of educational and professional experiences. The Lord will not neglect to use your talents and past achievements, whatever they may be, for His glory.
8. My parents oppose my desire to enter religious life. What should I do?
Some brothers have experienced the pain of their parents’ opposition to a religious vocation. Many of the same brothers have experienced the joy of their parents’ conversion, often spurred on by their son’s entrance into the Order and mutual prayer. While religious profession certainly entails the embrace of a new life and a natural distancing from one’s family and friends, it does not mean that a brother will be cut off from them. Regular correspondence by phone and letter are encouraged, and the student brothers are allotted an annual “home visit” after Christmas. Friends and family are also welcome to visit at certain times, especially for celebratory occasions.
9. I’m interested in the Order, but I have outstanding personal or educational loans. Can I apply?
While the Province will not assume or pay off outstanding personal debt, educational debt from an undergraduate or graduate institution is considered on a case-by-case basis.
10. I read through the articles on the Dominican cooperator brotherhood and priesthood. Can you further elaborate on each vocation in light of the Dominican charism?
The Dominican charism is unique because it doesn’t fit into the traditional distinction made between religious orders – contemplative vs. active. The Order of Preachers is a “mixed order” because the object of contemplation (God Himself) is the same object of the Dominican apostolate (preaching and teaching God). Each Dominican friar, both cooperator and cleric, is called to deeply contemplate God’s truth and beauty through Scripture, silence, common prayer, study, and meditation. While the Dominican priest takes the “fruits of contemplation” to share with God’s people through priestly ministry, the Dominican cooperator brother participates in the mission of preaching in a different manner. One’s talents play an important role in the life of a cooperator brother; whether those talents are in business administration, medicine, law, gardening, or cooking. All of his work is ordered to charity and the glory of God.
11. Why the Dominicans?