Dominican Priestly Fraternities are associations of diocesan priests who are formally affiliated to the Order of Preachers and to the Dominican Family through a distinct Rule of life that they profess, and so strive for evangelical perfection as sharers in the grace and mission of the Order of Preachers. They are distinct from the Dominican friars because they are diocesan priests, and they remain to be under the direct jurisdiction of the Local Ordinary, but they are directly associated with the friars for their governance and structure within the Dominican Family.
Priests, set apart in the heart of the people of God, but not separated from the world, are by virtue of their special vocation and ordination fully consecrated to the work of salvation through the fulfillment of the priestly ministry as “witnesses and stewards of a life other than the life here on earth.”(Presbyterium Ordinis, no. 3) Hence there is a special reason why they are not to become conformed to this world (Romans 12:2) but to use all their faculties in a constant effort to acquire evangelical perfection, so that they may always be more configured to Christ in their minds and become living instruments of his eternal priesthood, with a view to building up his Church in the world. (Presbyterium Ordinis, no. 12) Those, however, who, urged by supernatural grace, enroll in the Order of Saint Dominic, profess a rule of perfection suited to their state. In this way they become members of special communities called “the Priestly Fraternities of Saint Dominic” and add a new reason for pursuing greater perfection before God and the world.
Along with the special grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which helps these priests to perform the acts of the sacred ministry worthily (Presbyterium Ordinis, no. 12), they receive new spiritual helps from the profession which makes them members of the Dominican Family and sharers in the grace and mission of the Order to the sure advantage of the local and universal Church. However, while the Order provides them with these spiritual aids and directs them to their own sanctification, it leaves them free for the complete service of the local Church, under the jurisdiction of their own Bishop.
(From the Foreword of the Rule for the Priestly Fraternities of Saint Dominic)
Today, the priestly fraternities of the Order are present in England, France, Toulouse, Italy, Venezuela, Spain, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Croatia, USA, and the Philippines. More Dominican communities are becoming open to this dimension of the Order, as more members of the diocesan clergy desire to follow the example of St. Dominic formally through the priestly fraternities. In the Philippines, which currently has the largest group, the fraternity flourishes through the Dominican Clerical Fraternity of the Philippines (DCFP). The DCFP traces its origin from the Dominican Third Order, particularly in the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary (USTCS), then serving as one of the local chapters of the Third Order of Preachers (TOP) in the country. With the recent legislation of the Dominican Order, however, what used to be the TOP has now been redefined to become distinct Dominican Fraternities for the Lay and for the Clerics. The USTCS Chapter of the TOP then became the DCFP, which is now the fraternity for the clerics in the Philippines. Today, its close to 200 members include bishops, priests and seminarians belonging to different ecclesiastical territories in the country.