Many of you know that I am a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse—that is, a diocesan (or secular) priest. In other words, I do not belong to a religious institute. However, that is not entirely accurate. I am a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic, a branch of the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans. St. Dominic’s feast day is August 8th so I thought I would explain this facet of my priesthood a bit.
From the very beginning of the foundations of the Order of Preachers, there have been diocesan priests who have affiliated themselves with the Order of Preachers but without becoming Dominican friars. Before 1968, the Order (like many others) was divided into three parts: the First Order of the friars, the Second Order of the nuns, and the Third Order of laity. After 1968, the Dominicans abolished these divisions and realized that no matter how one is a Dominican, all members are part of the “Dominican Family.”
In 2014, I began formation in the Dominican tradition—learning the Dominican preaching charism and observances of the Rule—in order to formally affiliate myself with the Dominican Order through profession in the third order, what is now called the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic. The Priestly Fraternity is a fraternity of diocesan priests who have been urged by supernatural grace to enroll in the Order of St. Dominic and who profess a rule of life suited to their state. Profession in the Order of St. Dominic makes these priests members of the Dominican Family and sharers in the grace and mission of the Order of Preachers. However, these priests are free for service in their own diocese and under the jurisdiction of their own bishop. They are not Dominican friars but rather “Dominican diocesan priests”—Sons of St. Dominic.
On September 14, 2016, after over two years of formation, I made my solemn profession to live according to the Rule of St. Dominic. Kneeling before the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Albert the Great of the Order of Preachers, with my hands in his hands, I made a promise that I would live according to the Rule of St. Dominic for life. Being a full member of the Order of St. Dominic, I strive each-and-every-day to be imbued with the spirit of St. Dominic so that I can pursue greater perfection before God and the world. Please know of my prayers for you all and humbly request yours for me! St. Dominic, pray for us!