"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

"Go, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come and follow me!" Mt. 19:21

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Come & See" April 2014 Dominican Vocation Weekend

The next vocation weekend will be April 4-6, 2014 at the Dominican House of Studies in DC. Already it is half full. Plan ahead and contact the vocation director to reserve your space. In recent years our four annual vocation weekends at the Dominican House of Studies have each been full.  

Our first vocation weekend this year (September 27-29, 2013) was full two months before ...so plan ahead.
No matter where you ultimately go to serve the Lord, our vocation weekends are an excellent opportunity to learn more about religious life in general. These weekends are the fastest way to concretely learn a lot about the Order of Preachers (and our province) in a very short period of time.
Over 120 men pass through on our vocation weekends annually, not to mention many others who visit informally or other times during the year. If one of the four vocation weekends this academic year will not work for your schedule, it is possible to visit us another time (preferably during the week and during the academic year) either here in DC or at another house or priory of our province.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

"What is the Novitiate?"

Fr. Benedict Croell OP with 2013 novitiate class
Words plain and simple from Fr. James Sullivan OP, the Master of Novices for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph.

"In the Province of St. Joseph, novitiate is the normal beginning to a man's formation as a Dominican friar. To think of it as a year-long retreat would not be wrong, nor would it be wrong to think of it as a year-long boot camp. Novices learn how to pray, study, and share their lives together. They also need to learn how to walk (especially in the habit), eat in public, and live without e-mail and the internet. By its very nature the novitiate is testing out the Order and the Order is testing out the novice. Each is asking of the other: 'Does all of this really fit together?'

Fr. James Sullivan OP
Novice Master, w/friars

The greatest way to conceive of the novitiate and therefore to come to know its ultimate purpose is to understand it in terms of holiness of life. The goal of the novitiate is to provide the novice everything needed for him to be converted more profoundly to Christ by living the Dominican life. If this doesn't happen in the novitiate, why would anyone want to stay in the Order? If this does happen in the novitiate, how could anyone ever leave?"

Office of Advancement, Province of St. Joseph

+next Vocation Weekend at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC

Thursday, September 12, 2013

An Army of Friars: New 2013 Vocation Poster

With 70 friars in formation for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph (Eastern) in our novitiate at St. Gertrude Priory in Cincinnati and in the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC, we felt the time has come to produce a vocation poster of the young ones!  So here it is.  Two hi-res PDF version 1 and PDF version 2 to print out (11 x 17 size paper) and help us spread the word.


Thanks to our Office of Advancement, this is the first time we have ever produced such a poster, which is being sent to our parishes and campus ministries.  Our vocation office also sent a smaller version of the poster to most of the campus ministries within the Province of St. Joseph with the help of our vocation committee at St. Gertrude parish.  If we missed your campus ministry, please do let us know!

Please remember to pray for this army of Dominicans in formation as they prepare to be Preachers of the Word for the "salvation of souls!"

For those of you who would like to help with our mission (mouths to feed and education), you can click here - thank you and continue to pray for vocations

Dominican Cooperator Brother

Dominican Cooperator Brother

Preaching the Gospel to the whole world

Do you have a desire to intensify your personal relationship with Jesus and to share this relationship in service to your brothers and sisters in Christ in the world today?
Are you interested in being poor, joyful, disciplined, learned, rooted in prayer and eager to live the life of a Dominican Cooperator Brother?
Are you interested in joining us in continuing the great tradition of the Dominican Order through contemplation and sharing the fruit of that contemplation in service to others?
Are you ready to take the risk of following the path and vision of St. Dominic in order to spread the Gospel message of true compassion and healing wherever people are in need?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, God may be calling you to become a Dominican Cooperator Brother!

Who Are We?

Dominican Cooperator Brothers in the Order of Friars Preachers are men consecrated to the Word who believe our vocation is rooted in our baptism and given full expression through our Solemn Profession. We are men who have freely, without condition or limitation, heard and responded to God's call to come preach with Him.
We believe that our lived expression of the Dominican vocation, through the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, is centered in, and radically dependent, on a common life devoted to prayer and liturgy, study and scholarship, preaching and other ministries, and especially by caring for one another in community.
We  are committed, courageous, free, happy and holy. We freely endure suffering and loss and willingly become vulnerable in our personal transformation in order to cooperate with God’s Word and then share this Word with our brothers in community and with the world.
We are inheritors of Dominic’s vision and the charism of our Order. We model the life and ministry of Saints like Martin dePorres and Juan Macias who cared for their brothers and the unwanted of their day.

Our Dominican vocation:  What does it mean to have a vocation as a Dominican Cooperator Brother?  The vocation of the Dominican Brother is at the very core of  Dominican Life. Modeled after St. Dominic, our life is:
  • centered in our universal call to holiness and our mission within that call to bring ourselves and others into an intimate relationship with Jesus.
  • a mystery unfolding which provides a unique witness that all Dominican Friars, both ordained and non-ordained, are first and foremost consecrated religious bound together as "friars" (brothers) by our common religious profession.
  • through our vows, the means by which we become full inheritors of St. Dominic’s vision and unrestricted sharers in the charism of his Order. What is unique about the ministry of the Dominican Cooperator Brother? Our ministry is joined with that of our priest-brothers,
  • the dynamic expression of St. Dominic’s vision. It empowers us to enter into the lives of people and travel to places wherever the Holy Preaching is desperately needed.
  • exciting, challenging and life-giving because it is imbued and driven by the power of God’s Word. Our lifelong commitment through the vows and regular observance together with  our various ministries cooperate with this Word to transform our hearts and minds, as well as those of our brothers in community, and all those to whom they are sent.
  • preaching from many pulpits, Brothers respond not merely with words - but with the Word of God that lives in our hearts.  We are called by Divine Providence to be contemplative preachers in the Third Millennium and are, by profession, committed and obligated to the Holy Preaching, to one another and to the whole world.
The Formation Program for Cooperator Brothers:
The formation program for men who are called to Dominican life and ministry as Cooperator Brothers consists of several phases:

The Aspirancy

This provides the opportunity for interested men to discern their vocation while remaining at home and in their current employment or career activities. The length of this phase depends on the needs of the individual and the assessment by the Director of Vocations. During this phase, suitable aspirants are invited to formally apply for admission to the Province. CLICK HERE FOR ASPIRANCY GUIDELINES
The Novitiate
If the aspirant is accepted by the vocation council and provincial, a two week residential program immediately precedes the beginning of the Novitiate.The Novitiate is the formal beginning of Dominican life during which the novice comes to a better understanding of his vocation as a Dominican Cooperator Brother, the nature of Dominican life and ministry, liturgy and prayer, and the history of the Order.  The novice is clothed with the Dominican habit at the beginning of the Novitiate. At the conclusion of this one year period the novice petitions for permission to make Simple Profession of Vows, for a period up to three years.

Ministry Formation Program

This builds on the foundation began in the Novitiate and focuses on the continued preparation for community life and ministry. Student cooperator brothers will participate with student clerical brothers in a common formation program for Dominican life and mission under the direction of the Master of Students and his assistants that includes preaching, the common life, study, spiritual direction, living the evangelical counsels, liturgy and prayer, and pastoral competencies and behaviors of public ministers..
The specific formation program for ministries of cooperator brothers, i.e. preaching, community and professional (described below), is under the direction of the Master of Cooperator Brothers who is charged with the responsibility to assess the interests and competencies of the Brothers and to facilitate their preparation for ministry in collaboration with the Master of Students, the Prior Provincial and the Regent of Studies.
The Ministry Formation Program extends for five years following the completion of the Novitiate. Three years following First Profession of Vows, Brothers petition again to make Solemn Profession which binds them to the Order for life.
Ministries of Cooperators Brothers: Responding to the mission and needs of the Province of St. Joseph, the Church and the talents of the brother, three options for ministries may be pursued:
  • 1. Preaching Ministries: religious education programs, catechetical formation, campus and parochial ministries, retreats and workshops, lay evangelization, pastoral counseling; 
  • 2. Community Ministries: financial management and supervision, maintenance and services of buildings and properties, health care of the brothers, food service management, sacristans, musicians, liturgical planners, stewards of devotional shrines;
  • 3. Professional Ministries: social work, counseling, health care services, administration and management, teaching, pastoral administration, communications media and the internet, artistic design.

Please Come Preach with us 

For nearly eight hundred years, Dominican Cooperator Brothers, impelled with the power and grace of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Charity, have followed the vision of St. Dominic and “gone forth into the whole world to proclaim the good news to all creation” (Mk 16:25). As Dominican Cooperator Brothers we freely and generously bring to others the gifts of our presence and our lives vowed to the Order’s mission of evangelization through preaching. The greatest gift we as Dominican Cooperator Brothers are privileged to bring to the encounter with others is the very person of Jesus in the Eucharist made flesh in them. In your discernment please listen patiently, pray persistently, then come and preach with us!

+ click here for the next vocation weekend at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

St. Dominic and the Rosary

The Rosary

The rosary is a method of prayer which engages the whole person, body and soul. Words are recited, beads fingered, scenes imagined, affections awakened, doctrines pondered and virtues willed. Like the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the rosary is threefold, because of its joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries.

The rosary is a devotion for the simple and the intellectual, the young and the old, the busy and the free, the lay and the religious. A blessed Rosary is a sacramental that can be carried around, held or kissed, even when not recited. It can be prayed in community or alone, as a whole or in part.


The Rosary includes the perfect prayer which our Lord taught to the Apostles, the Our Father. It also includes the Hail Mary, which draws from pivotal events recorded in Scripture. It praises God and helps His People in need. Certainly, the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are superior forms of prayer, but the Rosary is called “Our Lady’s Psalter” because, instead of 150 Psalms, it has 150 Hail Marys. The Rosary is the only method of prayer which is celebrated throughout the universal Church with a Liturgy, namely, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.


In ancient times, there was a custom of counting prayers with pebbles in a bowl. Eventually beads were strung together to count them. On the other hand, illiterate monks and nuns, instead of memorizing the Psalms, used to recite 150 Our Fathers, probably in groups of 50. In the 14th century, Christians used a “string of Paternosters.” Around 1400, Dominic of Prussia combined 50 Hail Marys with phrases referring to Jesus and Mary. It was called the “Rosarium” or Rose Garden. Alan de la Roche, O.P. (1428-79), who did much to spread the Life of Saint Dominic, may have confused him with this monk of the same name. Another monk, Henry Kalkar divided the Hail Marys into decades separated by Our Fathers. In the 16th century, the Doxology or Glory Be was added, as well as the second half of the Hail Mary. At this time also, in 1573, the Dominican pope, Saint Pius V instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1716, Clement XI made the feast universal. It is now celebrated every year on the 7th of October.
There have been other traditions that were assimilated or faded away. In some places, for example, the leader of the Rosary would declare a different mystery for each Hail Mary! Although the Church generally settled on fifteen mysteries, there has been a trend in recent years to emphasize other events in the Gospels. It almost seems like a defect to ignore the Flight to Egypt, the Baptism of Jesus, His temptations in the desert, His teaching and ministry, the Transfiguration, and the Last Supper to mention a few (though some of these can be seen in John Paul II's Luminous Mysteries). Still, the fifteen mysteries do not exclude meditation on these other events (and filled out with the Luminous Mysteries). They are not rigid partitions. Likewise, the division into joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries may appear to be somewhat artificial because one can find these three properties throughout the fifteen mysteries, nevertheless, the categories themselves foster profound insights into our relationship to God. There are today a few firmly established forms of recitation, with one dominating form, but the development of the Rosary, guided by heaven, continues. For instance, Our Lady of the Rosary, as She identified herself at Fatima in 1917, asked the young visionaries to include a new prayer after each decade, "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell; lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of Thy Mercy."


There is a legend that our Lady appeared to Saint Dominic to give him the Rosary, to teach him how to pray it and to commission him to propagate the devotion. This story was circulated by Saint Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort, the great Marian priest of the Dominican Third Order. The story is also mentioned in several papal encyclicals and in other authoritative sources, but it lacks historical evidence. It may indeed be true, but there is no documentation from the early 13th century to prove or disprove it. On the contrary, the meticulous depositions taken from eyewitnesses to investigate the life of Saint Dominic during his canonization process, although they mention many of his miracles and revelations, say nothing about the Rosary (although testimony during the process for canonization told of how St. Dominic told the brethren that Our Lady did appear to him). Historical records, in fact, tell us a different story about the origin of the Rosary, saying that it developed in stages.  With its emphasis on the Incarnation, certainly the Dominicans' preaching of the Rosary has played a significant role in rooting out heterodox influences on the Catholic Faith in our own day.  The Holy Rosary continues for Dominicans and for the whole Church to be a popular form of prayer. May our Lady of the Rosary pray for us and for the New Evangelization!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Dominican Priest

Dominican Priest

Clerical Brothers Become Priests

Those who are vested in the Dominican habit, and have completed the year of novitiate, are then assigned to the Priory of the Immaculate Conception which is the Dominican House of Studies. Our formation as Dominican Friars has a single focus in that it is meant to prepare us to preach the Word of God. Formation for all friars in grounded in the four pillars of Dominican life: Prayer, Common life, Study and Preaching. In the Order our Dominican vocation is lived as a cooperator brother, or as a priest (here we won't discuss the Lay Dominican fraternities). Both cooperator brothers and clerical brothers begin preliminary studies to prepare for the next step in their formation and studies.
Related to this seminary training are the ministry installations. Clerical brothers are eventually instituted as lectors. The universal Church thus recognizes their right to read the Word of God at Mass. Some time later, clerical brothers are instituted to the order of acolyte. After the sacred rite, they become Eucharistic Ministers who distribute Holy Communion in any diocese.
Some time after their solemn profession, and taking into account the requirements of the Church, clerical brothers are ordained to the diaconate. This event is of special importance to the Order of Friars Preachers because it marks the beginning of their preaching ministry. While their training continues, deacons assist in local parishes. Administering the Sacrament of Baptism can be a wonderful experience, and deacons may even get the opportunity to witness a marriage. It is usually while they are deacons that clerical brothers receive simultaneously the Master of Divinity and the Bachelor of Sacred Theology (STB), a pontifical degree.

Finally after careful scrutiny, clerical brothers are ordained to the priesthood. Although they are entitled to be called Reverend Father, Dominican priests are always brothers ("friars"). The newly ordained receive summer assignments, usually to allow other priests time to rest, but then they may return to the Dominican House of Studies for another year of school. Newly ordained Dominican priests may pursue the Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL), another pontifical degree which allows one to teach Theology in a seminary or Catholic university at the undergrad level.  After completing either the STB (and STL) the newly ordained friars normally are sent to a ministry of our province for their first assignment.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dominican Charism


What are the essentials of the Dominican life? How do the Friars live? They are men of study, bound to the liturgy, to vowed life, to monastic discipline, and mobile. The Dominican is dedicated to truth, for God is truth.

Next Vocation Weekend at the Dominican House of Studies

The Charism of the Order of Preachers

To understand the spirit of the Dominican Order, it’s helpful to look at the times in which Dominic lived. The beginning of the thirteenth century was a time of renewed vigor for Europe: commerce revived; towns rose up; shining cities like Paris and London and Bologna grew in size, power and influence. Parliamentary democracy was here and there coming into being. A new learning was at work, with the ideas of pagan Aristotle and his Arab commentators beginning to fascinate the mind of the West. But in the midst of this new life, it was also a time of ecclesiastical corruption, despite the efforts of reformers like Innocent III. The new middle class of the cities, skeptical, increasingly educated, materialistic, could not be helped by a clergy by and large pitifully untrained, nor by monastic foundations largely rural and, by definition, isolated from the currents of daily life. There was, in the words of Amos the Prophet, “a famine of the hearing of the Word of God,” and the vacuum was frequently filled by superstition, divisive heresy, and a love for this world. Various attempts were made to respond to the situation. Groups of diocesan priests living in community, the canons, engaged in parochial and theological work. In a number of places, lay preachers like the poor men of Lyons attempted to return to the simplicity of the early Church and to the Gospel-fervor of its early preachers. But most such lay groups quickly sank into doctrinal error, and had, in the end, to be suppressed.
It was in such a world that Dominic Guzman grew up, the son of a Spanish noble; the philosophy student who sold his books to buy food for the starving; and for ten years a canon of the Cathedral at Osma in Spain. Dominic and his bishop, Diego, passed through southern France on a journey about 1204, and the journey changed their lives. The church was devastated. Manichees, Cathari, Albigensians - the movement had various names - had propagated a doctrine that included a hatred for matter, for material sacraments. These were the products of an evil unspirited god. Perfect religion was to starve oneself into the release of death. In contrast to worldly Catholic clergy, the leaders to the Cathari were rigid ascetics who held the loyalty of followers of varying degrees of devotion, who were often licentious themselves.
Dominic and Diego were moved at the state of the Church, and struck by the failure of past attempts to bring back the lapsed - past attempts by ecclesiastical dignitaries weighed down with servants and pomp. Dominic saw the need for preachers who would be learned, disciplined, and poor. With the approval of the bishop of Toulouse, Folques (who had once been a troubadour), Dominic began to gather a group of men willing to take up mendicancy and the dangers of preaching in hostile territory. They would sing a love song, but not that of the troubadours. They would sing the love of Jesus crucified. They would be given over to liturgical life and prayer, like the monks. They would be given over to active ministry in community, like the canons. But they would move about according to the needs of the Church and they would preach, something heretofore largely reserved to Bishops. As he gathered his preachers, Dominic also established a convent of nuns (mostly converts from heresy), whose example and prayer would lend support to the campaign of the preachers.

Sowing to the World

The plan of life of the preachers gained universal approbation in December, 1216. The Friars, up to that time a promising experiment in southern France, were now given wider scope, directly under the patronage of the Holy See. And in 1217 Dominic took decisive action to ensure that the work of the Order would range as widely as the need for preachers did. After long prayer, he called his sixteen followers together and dispersed them, despite their objections. They were too inexperienced, needed a leader, the Order was just getting on its feet, with few resources and few friends. Dominic’s reply: “Seed that is hoarded rots. You shall no longer live together in this house.” He sent them of: four to Spain, seven to Paris, two to stay on in Toulouse, two to Prouille. He and one last brother shortly went off to Rome. The seed was being scattered for harvest. By 1221, the year of Dominic’s death, some 500 friars had spread as far as Hungary, Denmark, and England. By 1222 they had reached the mission fields of Cracow, Danzig, and Prague. Soon after, they were preaching the Word in Greece and Palestine. The story of the Preachers had begun.

The Charism

What were the essentials of the Dominican life? How would the Friars live? They would be men of study, bound to the liturgy, to vowed life, to monastic discipline, and mobile. The Dominican is dedicated to truth, for God is truth. It is sacred truth, saving truth, that primarily concerns us here. God has called us into the intimacy of his own Trinitarian life, so that as sons in the Son we can cry out Abba, Father. And we are meant one day to see the glory, the power, the love, beauty, wisdom of God face to face. While we are on pilgrimage, we share in God’s own self-knowledge through faith in Him, as He reveals Himself in the Word made flesh and the Word as preached. The truth convicts, the truth redeems, the truth saves. The Dominican is to live in that truth, to be converted and sanctified by it, and to preach it.
“Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of scoffers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who ponders his law day and night.”
“To ponder his law day and night” is to contemplate and share with others the fruit of contemplation; to lead others into Christ who is truth. This is the essence of Dominican study. Dominic himself sent his preachers to hear theological lectures in Toulouse. He insisted that every house make provision for all its preachers to be continually studying the Word. It is no accident that the two books which Dominic carried with him were the works of the two rabbinic New Testament writers, Paul and Matthew, men with a rabbi’s love for God’s Word, men with a practical eye for organizing and strengthing local Churches. Dominican study aims to give the preacher the attitude of Saint Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach.”
As the Constitutions set down: “Our study ought principally to look to this: that we may be useful to the souls of our neighbors.” And living in service to sacred truth means working to find ways of conveying it, that is, to put other truth such as philosophy, literature, archeology, economics and language, at the service of the Gospel, so that it may be understood and believed. As Dominic’s successor put it: “The rule of the Friars Preachers … to live virtuously, to learn, and to teach.” Dominicans are to be given over to the liturgical life of the Church, to be genuinely taken up in the mystery of Christ which they proclaim. They are to offer the prayer of the Church for the good of the Church, to join in Christ’s own prayer in the heavenly sanctuary not made by hands. They are to live the vowed life, to be conformed to the example of Christ who was poor and loved the poor. Nudus nudum sequi Christum, “Naked to follow the naked Christ.” They are to be conformed to the example of Christ whose human love focused on the Father and on the whole human family. They are to be conformed to the example of Christ whose food was to do, not his own will, but the will of the One who sent him. By vows, they are freed for life in God, for witness and ministry in the Church.
The Dominican lives under the discipline of monastic observance. The disciplined round of daily routine requires him again and again to submit to the common good and the will of God, and it provides the environment in which contemplation becomes possible. At the heart of the Dominican ideal of community is the description in Acts 2 of the common life of the apostles. “And all who believed were together and had all things in common, and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those were being saved.”
The Dominican is called to apostolic mobility, to traveling light, to being available where needed. Dominicans are to be like other preachers sent out long ago, two by two, to proclaim the coming of God’s Kingdom in power, and on the road, they are to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every creature. As one early critic (by no means the last) of the Friars complained, “The world is their cell and the sea is their cloister.” Prayer, study, preaching, liturgy, monastic observance, community, mobility, vowed life: the essence of the Dominican life consists largely in an ordered integration of all these elements, thus forming the preacher who sits among his brothers and sisters at the Feet of Jesus, the Preacher and Word. Filled with the water of life, the water of mercy that flows from the Side of Christ, the Dominican is to turn and share that water as widely, as generously as he can.

Individuals Living the Charism

Yet this ideal has had an almost infinite variety of embodiments:
Bartolomo de las Casas
* Dominic, the apostolic contemplative;
* Hyacinth, missionary, preacher;
* Thomas Aquinas, a teacher always at the service
of the preaching mission of the Church;
* Catherine of Siena, a Dominican laywoman
whose love for truth took her out of a hermit’s life
to work for the reform and unity of the Church;
* Martin de Porres, who lived out Christ’s love
for the poor and the sick;
* Edward Fenwick, missionary bishop
in the American wilderness;
* Pere Lagrange, who devoted his life
to reviving Scripture studies in the Catholic Church;
* Bartolomo de las Casas, who worked to bring justice
for the enslaved Indians of Latin America.
The list goes on and on. It is a mixed lot, men and women, clergy and lay, some famous, some hidden and obscure, united around a love for truth, which comes from God and leads to God and must be the measure of all human activity as we journey into God. This is the ideal, an ideal fallen short of, sometimes almost snuffed out, but again and again rediscovered, embraced again by men and women who can be moved at the tears of Jesus for a Jerusalem that will not hear the truth, the tears of a Dominic as he begs in prayer “Lord, what will become of sinners?” Pray, friends, that we who bear the name of Dominic may bring his spirit to life.