Visiting our Houses in the Dominican Province of St. Joseph
February 16, 2017
“Rabbi (which means Teacher), where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” Our Lord’s response to St. Andrew and the unnamed disciple in John 1:38-39 is heard by those who want to follow the Lord Jesus now. In a special way, it illustrates the experience of the invitation for men who are considering a vocation to the priesthood and/or religious life.
Inspired by this Gospel encounter, so many seminaries and religious houses have Come-and-See weekends. The Dominican Province of St. Joseph has 4 Vocation Weekends each academic year at our Dominican House of Studies, a vibrant Priory with over 80 friars and a Pontifical Faculty with around 100 students. Unlike a diocesan seminary, the Dominican House of Studies is a religious house where men, once they become student brothers after the novitiate, find a new canonical home. During years of initial formation, student brothers find the Lord staying at the House of Studies and in other places where they live, such as during their different apostolic summers, and are formed to be his contemplative preachers for the salvation of souls. In the Fall of 2015, the Province began a separate studentate of deacons at St. Dominic Priory in Washington, where they live while finishing their degrees. Like the first apostles, the student brothers are formed to “go and preach,” something St. Dominic heard from SS. Peter and Paul who appeared to him in a vision in Rome. After formation in Washington, DC, brothers are normally sent elsewhere in the Province. We Dominicans understand that we don’t have a permanent home in any one place on this earth: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come” (Heb 13:14).
Because of our itinerant mission, the Order of Preachers is not composed of abbeys with monks who profess the vow of stability. Rather, it is an Order of friars, i.e, brothers in the Lord and St. Dominic, who are sons of Provinces found throughout the world. A Province has headquarters where the Prior Provincial, the Province’s major superior, normally resides, but no Province has a “motherhouse.” Our Provincial headquarters are housed at St. Vincent Ferrer Priory, attached to an extraordinarily beautiful neo-Gothic church in New York City. Our Province has 17 parishes, 9 campus ministries, in addition to our two major educational institutions of the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies and the only liberal arts college run by Dominican Friars in the United States, Providence College in Providence, RI. Each one of our houses plays a part in the Province’s mission. We also have responsibility for the mission of the Order of Preachers in Eastern Africa; it’s called a Vicariate, and its brethren there are also sons of the Province. We also have friars who are itinerant preachers, chaplains, and professors in various places.
Men who are interested in a vocation in the Dominican Province of St. Joseph must make a Vocation Weekend to come and see at the Dominican House of Studies. But they also must come and see where Jesus stays elsewhere in the Province. If you are interested in this vocation, contact the Vocation Director, and he can make arrangements for you to visit some of our various houses. Here are some examples. Dominicans founded the first Catholic church in the state of Ohio, and Edward Dominic Fenwick, our Province’s founder, was the first Bishop of Cincinnati. Perhaps the Vocation Director will have you visit St. Gertrude Priory in Cincinnati, a sizeable priory whose brethren run a thriving parish, teach, and have the novitiate formation in our Province. You could visit St. Gertrude’s and some other houses in Ohio or Kentucky. Perhaps the Vocation Director will have you visit New York City and see our Dominican places there. Perhaps he will arrange a visit to Providence, where you could see not only Providence College but also St. Pius V Parish and its Dominican community across the street from the college. You may be able to visit our Thomas Aquinas University Parish and Priory in Charlottesville, VA or our SS. Philip and James University Parish and House in Baltimore, MD or our Aquinas House and St. Denis Parish in Hanover, NH. These three places where we serve at the University of Virginia, Johns Hopkins University and Hospital, and Dartmouth College respectively don’t have the large numbers of friars as St. Thomas Aquinas Priory at Providence College or St. Dominic Priory in Southeast Washington, DC, but Jesus stays there, too, and invites you to come and see. Such visits will not have the formality of Vocation Weekends at the House of Studies, and for that reason could be even more valuable to your consideration of this vocation.
When you stay at the various houses of the Province of St. Joseph, take the time to visit with the Dominican brethren, observe how they serve the People of God, and, most importantly, pray to the Lord who is present there. Listen to him. Perhaps the Lord is calling you to remain with him in this Province. Ask yourself such questions as, “Am I ready to leave all things behind and entrust myself in obedience to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and holy father St. Dominic? Is the Lord calling me to be a son of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph? Do I want to be formed as a man of the Gospel, a preacher of the Word, who will proclaim good news in whatever houses of the Province I am assigned?” God works through holy desires that are tested and purified by experiencing the power of the Cross.
If you may have a vocation in the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, have the courage to pick up your cross and follow the Lord wherever he goes, and be with him wherever he stays. As of old, he gives the invitation anew: “Come and see.”
-by Fr. Andrew Hofer OP, Master of Students