The Dominican Cooperator Brother: Ministries of Mercy and Compassion

The Dominican Cooperator Brother: Ministries of Mercy and Compassion

In celebration of the First Religious Brothers Day – 1 May 2017, we share this beautiful piece with you on the vocations of cooperator brothers in the Order from the Eastern Province, USA.

The vocation of the Brother is part of the answer that God gives to the absence of brotherhood which is wounding the world today. - Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church

Our Holy Father Dominic founded the Order of Preachers in 1216 to preach for the salvation of souls. Beginning with St. Dominic's choice of Bl. Oderic and throughout the entire 800-year history of our Order, cooperator brothers have been a part of this mission. They are essential for the fullness of the life St. Dominic intended for each community.

Cooperator brothers are friars who are called to live lives of prayer and service in the Order of Preachers. We make vows and live a full religious life, but unlike our ordained brothers, we are free from the demands of a sacramental ministry. This allows us to make ourselves available to bring Christ's love to those around us in a wide variety of settings. We share with all Dominicans the task of preaching the coming of the Kingdom of God. This task is carried out by the Dominican community as a whole, and first of all by our Dominican life itself. Brothers bring the message of God's enduring love to the world not only by their words, but also by acts of mercy, patient suffering, and joy in their vocation. In every encounter we strive to bring God's word to those who thirst for the water of life.

Religious Consecration

Through the vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity we seek to conform ourselves to Christ Himself. Just as Christ chose to live a poor life, we also embrace evangelical poverty. Just as Christ remained celibate so that He might live His whole life in an act of undivided love for the Father, we also accept a life of chastity. And just as Christ was obedient "unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:8), we also lay down our lives in obedience to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Dominic, and our superiors. Through these vows, we enter upon a common life devoted to prayer, liturgy, sacred study, and the apostolate.


With our life's foundation in the love offered to us by Jesus Christ through the vows, we take up the task of study. The truth revealed by God and expounded by the Church communicates life to those who hear the Gospel. Studying this truth, especially guided by the teaching of the angelic doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, we live as if the wood of our desk is the wood of the cross. It is there that we find Christ and Him crucified. In our study, we come to know the truths of the redemption that Christ wishes to offer to all men.

Common Life

The apostles "had all things in common" (Acts 2:44). This allowed them to enter more deeply into a life of charity and to live with one mind and heart. We likewise have all things in common so that we too can grow in charity, and thereby grow in union with Christ.

Prayer and Contemplation

The celebration of the liturgy in common gives our life one of its chief characteristics. Gathering each day to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, we join the Church universal in her worship' of the Most Holy Trinity. Through this worship, we encounter God who became man, died, rose again, and ascended into heaven so that we might join Him for all eternity, partaking even now of this heavenly banquet through the gift of the Eucharist.

Likewise, in our private prayer and contemplation, we ruminate over Truth Himself and seek to deepen our understanding of God, man, and our salvation. St. Dominic spent his nights in prayer, contemplating the mysteries of Christ and the truths of the faith. We seek to imitate him by taking up our own practice of contemplation, and then sharing the fruits of this contemplation with others (ST 11-11, 188, 6).


Each brother has unique intellectual, physical, spiritual, and personal gifts which allow him to serve Christ and respond to the needs of the Order and the Church. Brother St. Juan Macias, as porter, extended Christ's love and welcome to all who came to the doors of the priory. Brother Bl. James of Ulm told the story of salvation through stained glass. St. Martin de Porres, an inspiration to many brothers for centuries, brought healing to people both by skill and by prayer.

In the Province of St. Joseph, brothers' gifts have found expression in a variety of ministries. Broadly speaking, these have been preaching ministries, community ministries, and professional ministries.

Preaching Ministries include religious education, catechetical formation, campus and parochial ministries, retreats and workshops, lay evangelization, and international missions.

Community Ministries: Some brothers are called to minister within Dominican communities and other internal operations of the province. This may involve management and supervision of staff, maintenance and service of buildings and properties, health services, economic administration and management of the community's assets, food services, sacristan work, and liturgical planning.

Professional Ministries: Other brothers come to the Order with or continue pursuing advanced degrees. They minister as college professors, theologians, social workers, counselors, health care workers, finance professionals, administrators, teachers, musicians, and artists.

The decision of what particular ministry to pursue is made by the Prior Provincial working in consultation with the brother, while taking into account the needs of the local Church and the Province. Each brother's particular talents and gifts play a significant role in discerning his ministerial focus and educational training.

Vocations to the Cooperator Brotherhood

Every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. -Matthew 19:29

Religious life takes discipline, courage, zeal, and true charity. The Dominican form of life draws the friar to enter more perfectly into union with Christ and be transformed all along the way. Over the past 800 years, thousands of men have generously responded to the Lord's call to lay down their lives as Dominican brothers. They have found the common life rewarding, the vowed life purifying, and the study transformative.

If you think you might have a vocation to the Dominican cooperator brotherhood, please contact: Director of Vocations ( or the Dominicans in your country.


(28 April 2017)