Formation in the Province of St. Joseph
Having been admitted to the Province, the man begins his formation as a Dominican friar by entering the novitiate at St. Gertrude’s Priory in Cincinnati, OH. On the Feast of St. Dominic (August 8th), he is clothed with the habit of the Order of Preachers and receives his religious name.
The year-long novitiate is a time to test whether the brother is fit for the Dominican life. The emphasis is on prayer, the common life, and the study of the Constitutions of the Order and lives of Dominican saints. The novice is instructed in elements of religious life by the Novice Master and learns how to live as a Dominican friar among brothers.
During this probationary period, the novice seeks to know more deeply the nature of his Dominican vocation. At the same time, the solemnly professed members of the novitiate community consider whether the novice truly has a call to the Dominican religious life.
There are two forms of profession in the Order of Preachers. The first is “simple” and temporary, and is made at the completion of the novitiate. The second is “solemn” and perpetual, made at the end of four years in simple vows.
At the end of the novitiate year, a brother may choose to petition for simple vows. With the endorsement of the community and the acceptance of the Prior Provincial, the novice makes his simple vows on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary (August 15). The brother promises to God to live under obedience, poverty, and chastity. While a simply professed brother aspires to live these vows for life, he initially binds himself for only three years, renewing for an addition fourth year in the Province of St. Joseph.
Normally, after four years in simple vows, a brother is eligible to petition for solemn vows. If accepted, he vows to follow Christ as a Dominican friar until death. Kneeling before the Prior Provincial, with the Book of Constitutions in his hands, he says the following words: “I, brother [name], make profession and promise obedience to God, to blessed Mary, and to blessed Dominic, and to you brother [name], prior provincial of the Province of St. Joseph, in place of [name] Master of the Order of Friars Preachers and his successors, according to the rule of blessed Augustine and the institutions of the Friars Preachers, that I will be obedient to you and your successors until death.”
After solemn profession, clerical brothers continue their formation for holy orders, which typically lasts for two more years. Cooperator brothers remain in formation for one more year.
Upon completing the novitiate year and having made his simple profession, the brother moves to the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. Formation in the studium focuses primarily on four different areas: human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, and pastoral formation. During the years in the studium, the brother lives in community, primarily dedicated to prayer and study. However, he is also assigned to various part-time ministries in Washington, D.C., and throughout the Province during the summers. Friars generally are assigned to the studium for six years.
While in the studium, clerical student brothers begin their philosophical and theological studies for priesthood and prepare for the apostolate. All brothers study at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, a seminary and graduate school run by the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph at the Dominican House of Studies. The academic program is founded upon the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. All clerical brothers study for a Bachelor of Sacred Theology and Master of Divinity, and many brothers pursue the Licentiate in Sacred Theology.
Cooperator brothers prepare for the apostolate with a plan of formation suited to his particular skills and the needs of the Province. This includes academic studies at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, with the possibility for additional professional or technical training, as needed.
The year before a clerical brother is ordained to the priesthood, he is ordained a deacon. During this last year of formation, he is assigned to St. Dominic Priory in Washington, DC while continuing his studies at the Dominican House of Studies.
The “initial” formation of a clerical brother culminates with his ordination to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. This usually occurs either at St. Dominic Church or in the Great Upper Church in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Once a clerical brother is ordained a priest, or a cooperator brother completes his formation after solemn profession, the friar’s initial formation is complete, and he receives an assignment to one of our communities and apostolates in the Province of St. Joseph.