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.