It takes a number of years to become a permanent member of the Dominican Friars. We call this ‘Initial Formation’. It is divided into stages.
The first stage is when you are a potential candidate, still living at home, but corresponding with our Promoter of Vocations. We expect you to ask him questions, and he will also want to learn all about you. During this time you will make a short visit to one or two of our houses to meet us and learn more about us.
Our Religious Superior may then invite you to move into a designated house to become a ‘postulant‘. That means someone who is ‘knocking on the door’. You will live in community with other postulants under the guidance of a Dominican priest, and discover whether you enjoy community life and prayer and study or not. If you do, and still wish to become a Dominican, you will apply again, this time to be admitted to temporary membership of the Order.
You will then be interviewed by our Admissions Board, and if you are accepted, at the start of the next year you will be admitted in a religious ceremony, and you will become a novice, that is, a new member, living in one of our communities. The novitiate lasts a full year, devoted mainly to enhancing your spiritual life.
It is only after this year that you make a ‘profession’, that is, a decision that this is what you want to do with your life. However, the Dominican Order will only accept your decision for a first period of three years, in case you ever wish to change your mind. You will be known during this time as a brother in ‘temporary profession‘. The three years may even be extended for a further period. The final decision will only come later.
After some years you will make your final profession, and you will then become a permanent member of the Dominican Order. This gives you certain rights, such as the right to a vote when your superior gets chosen. This happens even before you get ordained as a priest.
Young Dominicans doing priestly studies
During the postulancy, and again after the year of novitiate, you will carry on your studies for the priesthood. This applies to all our candidates, whether they hope to become priests or remain as brothers, as all of us join in the task of preaching. These studies take about seven years.
Note: The Church will only ordain a member of a Religious Order as a priest after he has made ‘final’ profession, that is, after he has completed his initial formation in that Order and committed himself for life, and after he has completed his seminary studies. The two things, Religious Profession and Ordination to Priesthood are quite separate from each other, and take place at different times.