Becoming a member of the Order of Preachers, Independent is not an arduous or complicated task, however it does take some time, some determination, an abundance of study, a great deal of prayer, and a modicum of spunk.
The real beginning of the process takes place before one ever contacts us. It begins with the candidate’s own struggle to discern if he or she has a call to the religious life or not. This can take place over a number of years, and usually involves some help from others, especially a confessor or spiritual director. The dynamic here should be noted: it is a personal call from God to the individual, but the recognition and understanding of that call normally requires the help of others. This dynamic continues throughout the following, more formal stages of formation: the candidate continues to struggle to understand and give shape to his or her call under the guidance and direction of others. Nor should it be surprising to us that this is the case. God always enlightens us, teaches us, and sanctifies us through the Body of Christ, his Church. His grace for us, in other words, is always ministered to us through others. The grace of a vocation is made incarnate in the service, education, and training that others give in order to bring that vocation to life.
THE PLAN FOR VOCATION DISCERNMENT & FORMATION
The following is a broad outline of how one moves forward from initial inquiry towards application to the Province and finally onto the path of formation.
After you have gathered sufficient information about the Dominican Order, and talked with the Father General so that you have enough information to begin thinking seriously about applying to enter the Postulancy, you must indicate to the Father General that you wish to become a member of our Order. If there are no impediments, and it seems prudent to do so, the Father General may supply the application information. Before applying officially to the Order, the following must be provided to the Father General by the applicant, and at the applicant’s cost:
• Transcripts and/or diplomas as proof of your educational background. These will need to be notarized or certified copies. They will need to include an English Translation.
• A Criminal Background Check from your city or country. These also need to be notarized or certified copies. They will need to include an English Translation.
• Personality Test: http://www.123test.com/disc-personality-test/ You will need to purchase and send us the Extended Report when you have completed the test.
• Stewards of Children: http://bit.ly/WTBID5 Please send us the certificate you receive when you complete this course. It is a 2 1/2 hour course and cost $10 USD.
Upon successful fulfillment of the Candidacy process, one becomes a Postulant. Any one eager to join the Order and get on with life’s vocation quite naturally desires to make the process unfold as quickly as possible. A sufficient period of Postulancy helps to ensure that haste does not make waste. A hasty entrance into a religious order could lead to a hasty exit. During Postulancy the aspirant works with the Father General to explore where he or she stands in relation to his/her own human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral development. If a postulant is to apply to the Order, there will need to be signs that these four areas of development are initially underway – even though it belongs to the Order’s program of formation to bring them to mature development.
Put simply, Postulancy assists you and us to determine if you have, more or less, the “right stuff” to become a Dominican. The Postulancy is a new step of commitment which invites you to consider even more seriously just what the shift from your current way of life into the life of a consecrated religious will entail and whether this is truly a realistic option for you. Typically, if one hasn’t done so already, during the Postulancy one begins to share the desire to enter the Order of Preachers, Independent with those closest to him (family, relatives, friends, etc.). The length of the Postulancy depends on where an aspirant one is in discernment. Its duration is up to the discretion of the Father General in consultation with the aspirant. A typical period of Postulancy is usually three to six months. Some people need more time than that and some need less.
Some Further Details of the Postulancy
If it seems appropriate to the postulant and the Father General, the Father General might also act as a spiritual director and/or confessor for the postulant. Throughout the entire period of Postulancy and the noviate, the postulant is responsible for maintaining contact with the Father General and the members of the Order.
After being accepted into the Novitiate, the postulant is allowed to purchase a habit and to be clothed in the white parts of the habit of our Holy Father Dominic. During this intense time of prayer and discernment, the novice is instructed in elements of religious life by the Father General and others, and learns how to live as a Dominican.
At the same time, the solemnly professed members of the community are discerning whether the novice truly has a call to the Dominican religious life. The novitiate period concludes with the profession of simple (temporary) vows, usually made for a period of three years.
What Is The Novitiate?
The novitiate of the Order of Preachers, Independent is the continued period of formation and discernment in preparation for profession of first vows
The novitiate is a time to discover whether one is fitted for the Dominican life – a blend of apostolic ministry and contemplative prayer. The emphasis is on prayer, the common life, and the study of the Constitutions and lives of Dominican men and women, both past and present. It is a time to ask the question: Can I see myself in the future as someone other than a Dominican? Can I imagine myself doing anything else that brings me as much happiness and fulfillment? It is also a time for the Dominican community to determine the suitability of the Novice for Dominican life. It is a time of discernment of God’s will.
The Dominican Constitutions offer a definition of the Novitiate as “…a time of probation directed to this purpose, namely, that the novices come to know more deeply their divine, and indeed Dominican vocation, experience the Order’s way of life, be formed in the Dominican spirit in mind and heart, and manifest their intention and suitability to the Order.” These words serve as the foundation of any novitiate in an Order. Coming to knowledge of a religious vocation requires time, silence, prayer and solitude.
Our novices receive their most important formation by actually living the religious life. Classes in the life and traditions of the Order and the Church, and assigned duties, are part of the life of a novice. Further, the Novitiate is used as a study period for the Novice to determine the path that his or her life will follow. During this time, our Novices study for the Diaconate, the Priesthood, or some other avenue of service to Our Lord. Classes are offered through the St. Thomas Aquinas Institute for Clergy Education. Also during the period of the Novitiate, the Novice concentrates on four general areas: Human Formation, Spiritual Formation, Academic Formation, and Pastoral Formation.
Blessed John Paul writes, “In order that his ministry may be humanly as credible and acceptable as possible, it is important that the religious should mold their human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humanity” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 43). The four areas of formation begin with human formation, which entails a deepening of the virtuous life. A Dominican is not to be arrogant or quarrelsome, but affable, hospitable, sincere, prudent, discreet, generous, ready to serve, capable of fraternal relationships, quick to understand, forgive, and console (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 43). The Father General is directly responsible for the human formation of all the brothers. He gives guidance about growth in human formation, and offers correction to the brothers where he sees them fail.
On the spiritual level, the Father General oversees the process of spiritual formation and oversees the ministerial formation of the Novice. He conducts private meetings with each student almost daily to mutually assess progress and note areas that need to be worked on. In addition he is assisted by the other members of the Order with whom he also meets almost daily.
The academic program for Novices comprises philosophical and theological studies. Studies begin with the basic courses in the St. Thomas Aquinas Institute for Clergy Education. These courses are taught by the Clergy of the Unified Old Catholic Church. Many of our Novices go on to the priesthood.
From the ministerial aspect, academic courses and various apostolates are arranged to give Novices the opportunity to prepare for Orders and ministry respectively in a supervised setting. These programs help the individual discover particular strengths and weaknesses. These are arranged through the Father General in cooperation with one of the Bishops of the Unified Old Catholic Church.
Upon completion of the Novitiate, the Novice makes their Simple Profession. During this time, the Novice is clothed with the black cappa and cappuce of a professed Dominican. He or she continues to study, learn, and grow as a member of the Order for three years. When the three years of simple vows is completed, one professes solemn vows for life or renews temporary vows for another year. One can renew vows a year at a time up to three more years after which the Brother or Sister must make a final decision to stay or leave. Upon solemn profession, the Brother or Sister becomes a Dominican for life.
Criteria for Admission
1. A well-informed faith, daily prayer life, regular sacramental participation, and evidence of a virtuous Christian life. A convert must have been initiated or received into full communion of the Unified Old Catholic Church.
2. Evidence of mature Christian discipleship through service to Church and society.
3. Desire to bear witness to the Truth of Jesus Christ and the beauty of the Catholic Faith for the salvation of souls in settings where we live and work.
4. Desire for an intense, religious community life centered on the Word of God through contemplation, the evangelical counsels, study, silence, Liturgy of the Hours and other elements of “regular observance”.
5. Good physical health and psychological balance.
6. No overwhelming personal debt upon entrance.
7. No impediments, canonical or otherwise, and no liability for prosecution before a criminal or civil court.
8. All candidates must be at least 20 years of age.
9. A Facebook page.
10. A word processing program.