"Non nisi Te, Domine, non nisi Te!"
Becoming a Lay Dominican

How does one become a Lay Dominican?  The steps are outlined below.  The MOST important thing to remember about being a Lay Dominican is that it is in fact a vocation for a lifetime.  It is not simply a social group that prays the Rosary quietly--we share in the preaching mission of our Order and we have dynamic apostolates that aid in the Church's universal mission of saving souls and converting sinners.  We are called to give a living witness to the Order and the Gospel values given to us by Jesus Christ 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  This is a vocation and this is why our formation process is a minimum of five years.

The Family Tree of St Dominic
One Mighty Trunk with Three Great Branches

Our Family is composed accordingly:
  • Light Purple indicates the Friar Preachers and Cooperator Brothers in the First Order--about 3,000 worldwide
  • Dark Grey indicates the Nuns in the Second Order--about 6,000 worldwide
  • Teal indicates the Apostolic Sisters of the Third Order Conventual--about 25,000 worldwide
  • Golden Brown indicates the Third Order Secular--the Lay Dominicans--about 150,000 worldwide

Candidacy Day 8 SEP 2012
Martin Hanley, Inquirer (L), Rick Danner, Candidate (C),
Bob Johnson, Inquirer (R)

Web links for Inquiry:

The Eastern Province of St Joseph:

The Provincial Web Site

Good Reads:
"Dominican Laity and the Year 2000"
Anthony Dao Quang Chinh, O.P.

"Dominican Four Pillars"

Fr. Gregory Anderson, OP

Who are the Lay Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist?

  • We are lay men and women, married and single, who live out our Baptismal vows according to The Rule of the Lay Fraternities of St Dominic as founded in 1285 AD.

Are we Dominicans?

  • YES!  We are one branch of three on the Dominican Family Tree.  Lay Dominicans are not “Dominican Groupies” or “Dominican Cheerleaders.”  Once admitted to Candidacy, a Lay Dominican enjoys all the rights of membership of any member of the Dominican Order.

What is the mission of the Lay Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist?

  • The mission of the Lay Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is to preach the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church by word and by deed according to The Rule of the Order of Preachers as founded by St. Dominic.
  • Our mission is a preaching mission—but do not let this scare you.  Everyone is capable of supporting the preaching mission because we can all preach through the example of our lives.  Going to daily Mass regularly can be a form of preaching by example.  We can preach the Word of God in all forms but one—by Canon Law, we are prohibited from preaching the homily at Mass.  We can preach in teaching, catechesis, apologetics, or evangelization—these are all critical areas in the Church today where the need is great.

How does one become a Lay Dominican?

  • There are a few basic requirements that are needed.  If these are met, then one begins a year long period of Inquiry, where one learns about the Order and the Order gets to know you.  There is no obligation at this stage—you can leave at any time if you feel a Lay Dominican vocation is not for you.  And it is a vocation—and that requires prayerful discernment which is at the core of the Inquiry Stage of Lay Dominican formation.
  • If at the end of the Inquiry Stage you feel that a Lay Dominican vocation is a good fit for you, then you will petition the Order to for admission as a Candidate.  If your petition is accepted by the Order, you will be formally admitted as a member of the Order.  Then for one year you will learn how to be a Lay Dominican in preparation for Temporary Promises.
  • The Temporary Promises is a three year period where you are expected to live as a Lay Dominican and continue to grow in formation with the Order.  If you decide after three years that you would like to make a permanent lifelong commitment to a vocation as a Lay Dominican, you will then take Final Promises that are permanent for your lifetime.
  • The Promises professed by Lay Dominicans are primarily a promise to live The Rule and to obey the Master of the Order.  Why not poverty and chastity as well?  Because St Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican and Doctor of the Church, maintained that if one lives obediently, poverty and chastity will follow naturally.  Lay Dominicans can make a million dollars but they are always mindful in obedience as to how to use that money according to the Gospel values of Jesus Christ.  Chastity is a moral virtue that binds everyone, and Lay Dominicans in whatever state of life they are, seek in obedience the perfection of the virtue of chastity according to their individual state of life. 
  • Lay Dominicans take promises and not vows—this is important to understand because our promises are what makes us unique as Lay Dominicans.  Vows are professed publicly by religious who are recognized canonically as such.  If a lay person where to make a public Religious profession of vows, they would cease to be a lay person.  Lay Dominicans have a unique and special role in the Dominican Order—essentially, we maintain our lay identity specifically to saturate the world around us with the Truth of Jesus Christ.  We can go and bring the Truth through our preaching in those places where the Friars, Cooperator Brothers, Nuns, and Sisters cannot go—and we can help them to understand our part of the world better by sharing with them what we are seeing and hearing.  This is a very important understanding of the Second Vatican Council—the role of the laity as cooperators with the clergy and the religious.  It is our right through the grace of our Baptism to assist our priests and religious with their mission of saving souls and converting sinners to the Truth of Jesus Christ.

How is Lay Dominican life structured?

  • Lay Dominican life is structured on 4 Pillars—Study, Contemplation, Community, and Apostolate
  • We study in order to feed our contemplation with the Truth of Jesus Christ.  Then, we share the fruits of our contemplation with the support of our community through our preaching mission, which is our primary apostolate.
  • Dominican life is a perfect melding of the contemplative life and the active life.  We do not isolate ourselves in our books—but we do study quite a bit in order to contemplate the Truth.  Then, because of our preaching mandate, we must go out to our neighbor and share with him or her what we ourselves have received in contemplation.  Love of God and love of neighbor are at the core of Lay Dominican life—both must work in tandem in order to live the life successfully.

Are there other Lay Dominican groups?

  • Yes—Lay Dominicans are wherever there is a Dominican presence.  The Dominican Order in the United States is divided into 4 Provinces.  Here in Pensacola, we are in the Southern Province of St. Martin de Porres.  The Provincial Priory is located in New Orleans, LA.  Our Province is the entire Southeastern United States from Texas to Florida and up to the Carolinas and over to Oklahoma.
  • As Lay Dominicans, we have our own governing body with a Provincial President who sits in the place of the Master of the Order for us.  The Provincial Executive Council reports to and is directed by the staff liaison from the Provincial Prior.  Our current Executive President of the Lay Provincial Council is COL Jo Ann Cotterman, OP and our Prior Provincial is Father Christopher T. Eggleton, OP.  The Master of our Order is Father Bruno Cadore, OP.
  • The nearest Chapter/Group in formation are the Lay Dominicans del Espiritu Santo, our parent group, located in Tallahassee, FL.
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