THE DOMINICAN VOCATION
The call to become a Dominican friar comes from God.
People seek to serve the Lord in varied ways, but when a person is really passionate about the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bringing people closer to God by spreading that same Gospel, then the question of serving as a Dominican becomes a real one.
When the Order was founded by Saint Dominic in the early thirteenth century, the Church gave a mandate to the newly established Order to preach and to save souls.
This has been the concern of the generations of Dominicans since that time.
The Dominican vocation to preach leads members of the Order into many varied ministries. Around the world, the friars are preaching through the pulpit, through the mission and retreat apostolate, through the mass media and the printed word, through the arts, in solidarity with the poor, in parishes, chaplaincies to universities, hospitals and armies.
The Irish Dominicans have been faithful to this call to preaching as well.
The Dominican vocation to save souls leads members of the Order to engage with people beyond formal preaching, at a ministerial level, through the sacraments of the Church.
Dominican friars, ordained and non-ordained, are involved in preparing the people of God for the sacraments and are indeed ministers of God, bring His people close to him. The Irish Dominicans fulfill this obligation in diverse ways.
DOMINICAN IN TODAY’S WORLD
Dominicans are preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The motto of the Order is veritas (a Latin word meaning “truth”).
We are therefore charged by the Church with preaching the truth of the Gospel message. Since the Dominican Order was founded almost 800 years ago, Dominicans have been at the forefront of this mission of searching for the truth.
All the great names of the Dominican tradition including Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, Catherine of Siena, Meister Eckhart, Martin de Porres, Bartolomeo de las Casas, Henri Lacordaire and many more, have shown by their lives and legacies that the mission of the Dominican Order throughout the centuries has sought, and continues to seek this truth, in order that people might more fully understand the mystery of God in their lives.
In our modern world, this constant search for truth and goodness and right is as essential as it was in St. Dominic’s time – perhaps even more so.
We live in the era called the intangible economy. Our Western society is consumption driven and it is becoming less and less clear to people from where their desire to consume is coming.
In the midst of all this, the search for God continues ...
There is a great yearning to understand, document and use the complexity of life in all its forms – and a great yearning to understand God as well.
The Dominicans in Ireland and throughout the world are at the forefront in this search. To this end, we are active in various ministries in third level institutes of learning, engaged in pastoral ministry in parishes and local communities, involved in teaching the disciplines of philosophy, theology and scripture, in dialogue with new religious movements and sects and involved in the areas of justice and peace and many other ministries besides.
We have a missionary dimension to our lives also. Ultimately, we are where the people need to hear the Word of God most!
HOW DO I KNOW THAT I AM CALLED?
This is a difficult question to answer!
We are all familiar with the story of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts of the Apostles, chapter 9) where he encountered God and was called.
It is the story of a truly inspiring and dramatic calling, one that is out of the ordinary. And perhaps it is that word ‘ordinary’ that we should focus on here. Remember, when Jesus called the first disciples, they were ordinary men going about their ordinary business. But called by the Lord, they certainly were.
The Irish Dominicans are a group of approximately 180 men from various backgrounds and locations. Ask any one of us how we were called, and you will find many different answers. But there is one common thread that links us together – the desire to preach the Word of God!
All through history, God has been calling ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
If you feel that you have a strong desire to share your faith with others, to open up the mystery of God for people, a willingness to be on the side of those who are oppressed and a passion for justice through preaching the Gospel, then perhaps God is inviting you to follow in the footsteps of Saint Dominic.
All of us are called to proclaim the Gospel by the nature of our baptism, but living it in faith and trust and mutual support of others who share that same ideal could prompt you to understand that God is calling you in a unique way – the Dominican way.
SIGNS OF VOCATION
Many people during their lives consider the possibility of priesthood or religious life and fail to do anything about it.
Sometimes people feel inadequate or ill-equipped to take on the task of following God in this special way. This is quite normal!
Indeed, one does not have to be a theologian or philosopher or indeed to have reached the great spiritual heights.
What is very important, though, is to be open to the call of God in your life. This means that, to be truly open to God’s call, those considering the Dominican way of life should be people of prayer and faith.
It is only when we are receptive of God’s word and action in our lives that we can begin to be open to His call to us.
It is said of Saint Dominic that he always spoke to or about God during his life. This remarkable aspect of our founder’s life could be the springboard to understand God’s call in your life.
It is very important that we make an attempt at answering this call – and not just leave it to others, because you are called by God personally.
Remember, you will have many reasons for join the Order, but it is vital to ensure that your reasons are grounded in prayer and faith
RESPONSE TO THESE SIGNS
Every year, young and not so young men approach the Irish Dominicans considering the possibility that they might be called to join in our work and mission.
It is important to stress that we take every enquirer seriously and we strongly encourage them to come and see us in action in our daily lives.
This is organised generally by the director of vocations. It is through the experience of living our life of prayer and community that you will begin to understand our way of life.
We warmly welcome those who are genuinely interested to share our life.
Each and every Dominican is called to invite people to come and join our way of life. With this in mind, you are encouraged to talk to any of the friars about the possibility of becoming a Dominican. They will in turn put you in contact with the director of vocations. He will be very happy to meet with you and help you with the discernment of your call or vocation.
Ultimately, the responsibility for your response to God’s call depends on you! In return, the Order, through the Vocations Director, will help in whatever way it can.
CONTACT VOCATIONS DIRECTOR
It is the primary role of the Vocations Director to promote vocations to the Dominican way of life.
He is also the initial point of contact for those interested in joining the Order.
Before making any commitment to the Order, you will meet him on a regular basis (normally once a month) during the process of discernment.
He will then decide after this period whether or not to propose a person for interview with a view to making a commitment to join the novitiate.
Interviews for admission take place once each year, normally in late June or early July. Each candidate is interviewed by members of the Order (the admissions board) and by qualified professionals (a psychologist and psychiatrist).
If the outcome of these assessments is positive, the candidate then joins the novitiate community in the September of that year.
The invitation to come and live with us during your period of discernment and to make contact with the director of vocations is open to those who are over 18 and have reached a standard of education equal to being able to enter into third level (university) studies.
You can contact the director of vocations at or send your comment or question in the box provided below.
The vocations director also has a blog: www.irishdominicanvocations.blogspot.com