What is a Dominican?

The Order of Preachers

The Order of Preachers (The Dominicans) was established in 1216 by St. Dominic de Guzman “for preaching and the salvation of souls.” Following the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Order of Preachers, Dominican friars devote their lives to study, contemplation, and preaching, united by their common profession of obedience and the living of the Evangelical Counsels, in order to be effect instruments in Christ’s saving plan.

The Book of Constitutions and Ordinations of the Brothers of the Order of Preachers provides five major elements to the way in which a Dominican follows Christ: the common life, celebration of the liturgy and prayer, the observance of the vows, the assiduous study of truth, and the apostolic ministry of the Word. Each of the elements is essential, and the whole must be simultaneously maintained for the full vibrancy of Dominican life to be revealed.

Already we see just within this schematic outline the dynamic tension at the heart of the Dominican life: Dominicans are not half-contemplative and half-apostolic, but fully both at the same time. These two are not in conflict, but in counter-position, each driving the other to be more fruitfully and completely lived. The goal of the Dominican life is not to contemplate at some times and to preach at other times, but to develop a contemplative vision, enabling the friar to “pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18), living his life as an act of preaching, a holy witness to the abiding presence of Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that the Dominican conventual life has been known as “the holy preaching”; because even in his moments of repose and restoration, the Dominican’s life is to be a harmonious clarion to the Kingdom of God.

What is the Province of St. Joseph?

The Order of Preachers is composed of regional provinces spread throughout the world. The Province of St. Joseph (The Eastern Province), founded in 1805, is one of four provinces in the United States of America. Our friars engage in a variety of ministries, from New England to Virginia to Kentucky, most especially serving as professors and teachers, parish priests, and campus chaplains.

The Province of St. Joseph has many different websites that will help you get to know us better.

What is a Friar?

In 1216, St. Dominic brought together a band of friars (from French “brother”), united by “a holy desire to embrace poverty, profess the regular life and commit [themselves] to the proclamation of the word of God, preaching everywhere the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” For more than eight hundred years,  men who have freely, without condition or limitation, heard and responded to God’s call to come preach with Him as Dominican Friars. Consecrated through the Evangelical Counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, Dominican friars seek to glorify God, to strive for personal sanctification, and to work for the salvation of mankind. Their preaching is vivified through living the regular life of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Divine Office, assiduous study, silence, and the common life. Together these things prepare and impel the friar to preach the Word of Jesus Christ. 

Preaching is a shared work and the responsibility of the entire community. Though the Order of Preachers is a clerical order at the service of the ministry of the Word and the sacraments, the cooperator brothers also share in this mission.

Clerical Brothers

The Order of Preachers is committed to the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments. Since the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments of faith is a priestly function, ours is a clerical Order. (The cooperator brothers share in this mission, exercising the common priesthood in a manner specific to them.) Priestly ordination permits the friar to proclaim the Gospel both by word and example, especially within the context of the liturgy.  

In the Province of St. Joseph, Dominican priests serve in a variety of ministries: they preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments at parishes, hospitals, campus ministries, and in the missions (currently in East Africa); they teach at colleges and seminaries in the United States and abroad; they work in media, producing radio shows and magazines; and they serve as itinerant preachers, bringing the distinctive witness of Dominican preaching to parishes and other groups that are normally ministered to by others.

Cooperator Brothers

Cooperator brothers in the Order of Preachers are consecrated men religious who provide for the needs of the community and also engage in the apostolate of the Order. The cooperator brothers lives his Dominican vocation through the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity, is centered in and radically dependent on a common life devoted to prayer and liturgy, study and scholarship, preaching and other ministries, and especially by caring for one another.

The cooperator brothers have a role in the apostolate of the whole community not only by their work of providing for the needs of the convent but also by a ministry properly so called both by working with the priests and by engaging in their own apostolic activity according to their talents.

In the Province of St. Joseph, cooperator brothers serve in a variety of ministries: preaching ministries, such as religious education and pastoral counseling; community ministries, including financial management and supervision, maintenance and services of buildings and properties, health care of the brothers, and food service management; and professional ministries, such as social work and healthcare services.