Vocation FAQs

Where do I start?!

Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit, renew and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life. Then pray a Hail Mary. If you are called to the Order of Preachers you would be wearing our Lady’s Rosary on your waist – start now to entrust yourself to her! We suggest men begin by carefully reading the material about the Dominican vocation contained on this website.

(A Personal Message from Fr. Benedict Croell OP, Director of Vocations)

Next Vocation Weekends at the Dominican House of Studies

Why do you have so many vocations?

“The fraternal life is itself prophetic in a society which, sometimes without realizing it, has a profound yearning for a brotherhood which knows no borders” (Vita Consecrata § 85.1).

In recent years, the Province of St. Joseph has experienced a marked increase in vocations; after many years of a stable number of around thirty-five men in formation, the province currently has over 70 men in formation (the 2nd largest in the Order worldwide for a single province). Dramatic change always causes people to look for reasons for that change. Because a vocation is a mystery of the Holy Spirit’s work in the world, the question of the rise in vocations in the Province of St. Joseph admits no strongly definitive answer.

That being said, the following is an initial effort to understand and explain this phenomenon, interpreting both the history of the province and the action of grace. The text of this talk was originally given as a conference by Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., to the capitulars of the provincial chapter of the Province of St. Joseph (2010) on the feast of Bl. John Dominic at Providence College. It is not strictly a resolution to the question “Why so many vocations?”, but another question posed in response: “Who knows the ways of the Lord?”

Fr. Benedict Croell OP also did an interview with Regina Magazine, offering more insight.

What are the criteria to apply? Am I eligible?  (age, education, etc.)

Applicants must be between the ages of 20 and 35. Exceptions are made for older candidates depending on skills and experience. Clerical brother candidates are required to have a bachelor’s degree from a four year college or university. Cooperator brother candidates are required to be have a high school diploma and at least two years of college or work experience. Candidates must be living a virtuous Christian life, free from scandal. They must possess the discipline of a sound prayer life along with a deep desire to be of service to Christ and His Church according to the Dominican charism.  All candidates must possess good physical health, psychological and emotional maturity. New converts normally must be a Catholic for at least three years (though they could make a vocation weekend right away).

How do I prepare to possibly enter?

Men who are thinking seriously about Dominican life are encouraged to become an aspirant for the Province of St. Joseph, as a way of growing in knowledge about and desire for the Dominican vocation. Information about the program can be found here. Within the document you will find concrete suggestions you can begin to implement into your life now. These suggestions of what you can do now will help you regardless of where you ultimately go.

What do I do if my parents don’t support my vocation?

Not everyone receives news of his son’s desire to enter religious life with equal joy. Some parents may find the idea upsetting or bizarre; even in loving their son and wanting the best for him, a religious vocation can be hard for some parents to understand. This situation is not uncommon, and need not create insurmountable difficulties for your vocation or your relationship with your parents. Fr. Andrew Hofer, O.P., one of the student masters for the Province of St. Joseph, addresses the question practically and sympathetically here.

Will the Dominicans help me to pay off my loans so that I may enter?

The law of the Church cautions religious communities to admit candidates to the novitiate who are burdened with debts they cannot pay. Talk with the vocation director in order to consider equitable solutions – there are a number of things to consider. Ordinarily, student loans that go beyond your own abilities in a timely manner are handled by The Labouré Society or The Mater Ecclesiae Fund to enter the novitiate.  If you have debt, resolve excessive student loans and all personal debt.

Are you faithful to the Church? What would Dominican formation look like?

Dominicans are engaged in doctrinal preaching for the salvation of souls.  Our formation program is strongly Thomistic.  To learn more about our Pontifical Faculty at the Dominican House of Studies, one of our province’s student masters, Fr. Andrew Hofer OP, recently did an interview that is worth reading.

Must I finish college before I enter?

In the words of our Constitutions, “Since the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments of faith is a priestly office, ours is a clerical Order…” For this reason, most friars are priests or clerical brothers pursuing the priesthood, and thus require graduate theological education.  In our Province, friars complete their initial theological formation at the Dominican House of Studies, a graduate school of theology and a Pontifical faculty. If a man feels called to Dominican priesthood, he must have at least a 4 year undergraduate degree before entering.  Men who are interested in the cooperator brother vocation must have at least 2 years of college or 2 years of work experience.

Do you have any Dominican houses I can visit closer to where I live?

Men travel from all parts of the USA and Canada to make vocation weekends within the 4 US Dominican provinces. The Dominican province of St. Joseph has two houses of formation in our nation’s capital where our “Come & See” vocation weekends take place: the Dominican House of Studies and St. Dominic Priory.  The Dominican House of Studies is the largest Dominican house in the United States with over 80 friars; St. Dominic’s Priory will have upwards of 40 friars by 2016.  With over 115 Dominican friars living in Washington, D.C., many men have chosen to come to visit us. In the past 7 years over 700 men have chosen to make this investment for a great first hand immersion into Dominican life in the Province of St. Joseph. Each summer, our vocation office provides regional opportunities to visit our friars usually in OH/KY, DC/VA, New York City and New England.

Do Dominicans still celebrate the Dominican Rite Mass?

Currently the Province of St. Joseph provides optional training for our student friars in the Dominican Rite at the Dominican House of Studies with the celebration of the Dominican Rite Mass once a semester. Other houses throughout the province have been celebrating the Dominican Rite on special occasions or feasts.  The Priory of the Immaculate Conception (Dominican House of Studies) also celebrates a monthly Mass in Latin in the ordinary form.  The Dominican Province of St. Joseph has produced Dominican Rite tutorial videos. Much more information about the Dominican Rite in the Province of St. Joseph can be found in: Q&A: Universae Ecclesiae and the Dominican Order.