Vocation FAQs

Where do I start?

We suggest that men who believe that our Lord may be calling them to the Order of Preachers and the Province of St. Joseph begin by reading the information on this website and on our Province’s website. Our Aspirancy and Application page outlines aspirancy guidelines and the process of applying to the Province of St. Joseph.

After reading this information, you should contact the Director of Vocations, Fr. Jacob Bertrand Janczyk, O.P. and also sign-up to be on our email list.

Getting to know the Order of Preachers and the Province of St. Joseph is very important. If you near one of our communities or parishes, take advantage of what they offer and introduce yourself to the friars. We host “Come and See” Vocation Weekends at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC four times throughout the academic year and other vocation events throughout the Province. Speak to Fr. Jacob Bertrand if you are interested in attending these events.

What is the difference between a priest and a brother?

The structure of the Order as a religious society arises from its mission and fraternal communion. Since the ministry of the word and of the sacraments of faith is a priestly office, ours is a clerical Order, whose mission the cooperator brothers, exercising in a special way the common priesthood, also share in many ways. Moreover, the total commission of the Preachers to the proclamation of the Gospel by word and work is revealed in the fact that by solemn profession they are entirely and perpetually united with the life and mission of Christ.” -The Fundamental Constitutions, VI

Click here to read more about the vocation and formation for the Dominican priesthood and Dominican cooperator brothers.

What are the criteria for applying to the Province of St. Joseph?

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 earned bachelor’s degree from a four year college or university prior to entering the novitiate.

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. Our Aspirancy and Application page outlines aspirancy guidelines and the process of applying to the Province of St. Joseph.

New converts normally must be a Catholic for at least three years before being admitted to the novitiate.

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

The Church cautions religious communities to admit candidates to the novitiate who are burdened with debts they cannot pay. Speak with the vocation director in order to consider equitable solutions. Ordinarily, student loans that go beyond your own abilities to repay in a timely manner may be handled by The Labouré Society or The Mater Ecclesiae Fund.

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. addresses this question practically and sympathetically here.

What does formation look like in the Province of St. Joseph?

Initial formation generally takes about six to seven years from the beginning of the novitiate until priestly ordination for clerical brothers.

The novitiate is the first year of formation and is held at St. Gertrude Priory in Cincinnati, OH. The novitiate year begins with the reception of the habit on the Solemnity of St. Dominic (August 8) and concludes when the novice makes his simple (temporary) profession on the Solemnity of the Assumption (August 15) the next year. The novitiate is an intense year of prayer and discernment, where the novice is instructed in elements of religious life by the Novice Master and learns how to live as a Dominican friar among brothers.

After completing the novitiate, the brothers begin their time in the studium at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, DC. Formation at the Dominican House of Studies, under the direction of the Master of Students, focuses on four different areas: human formation, spiritual formation, intellectual formation, and pastoral formation (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis nos. 43-59). If he is a clerical student brother, he begins his philosophical and theological studies for priesthood. The cooperator student brother also prepares for active ministry but with a plan of formation suited to his particular skills and interests and the needs of the Province.

Brothers remain in simple vows for a period of four years before making their solemn (perpetual) profession. Once in solemn vows clerical candidates continue to prepare for ordination to the diaconate and to the priesthood.

Why do you have so many vocations?

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. A vocation to the religious life and the priesthood is a sacred gift from God and a work of the Holy Spirit.

Though we cannot give one definitive answer, Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., a son of the Province of St. Joseph, addressed this question in 2010 by interpreting the history of the Province of St. Joseph and the action of grace.

Do Dominicans still celebrate the Dominican Rite Mass?

Though the Novus Ordo is the rite celebrated in our communities, some communities throughout the Province do celebrate the Dominican Rite at various times and for special feasts or occasions. Friars are able to participate in training in the Dominican Rite at the Dominican House of Studies. The Province of St. Joseph has created Dominican Rite tutorial videos as well.

More information about the Dominican Rite in the Province of St. Joseph can be found here.