The Order of Preachers offers lay people who feel called to a radical way of living the Gospel without leaving their way of life the fresh idea of Secular Institutes, a way of Consecrated Life recognised by the Church in 1947. Members consecrate themselves to the Lord by living the Evangelical Counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience in a form adapted to their way of life which is fully involved in the world, without living together but with a real sense of community.
Bishop L’Heureux, a former Chaplain to the French National Conference of Secular Institutes, spoke thus of the vocation: “Life-giving forces do not make a noise. Members of Secular Institutes make the offering of themselves while living in the same way as everyone else, without visible signs or distinguishing marks. They share the single state with many others, though for them it is as a vocation and without trickery. They live in all parts of society and may do any kind of work. Nothing distinguishes them from other committed Christians. But in the secret of their heart, and with the support of others in their group of the Institute and recognised by the Church, they make a complete offering of themselves. They commit themselves to live the Gospel to the letter without seeking any setting other than that which the Lord has suggested by circumstances and the choices they have made in life. It is amazing enough that the Church should trust such a call, when a long tradition of consecrated life insisted on withdrawal from the world. But that the Holy Spirit should make of this world - marked by egoism, money, hunger for power, impurity – that he should make of this very world the place and the means of a radical vocation for holiness, that is audacity which only God can allow Himself, He who makes the whole of creation new.(Rv 21:5) This audacity, however, takes place under our eyes in the life of many of our contemporaries, with no sign other than brotherly love and joy. A new vocation, which is known by too few, particularly by men, who are called to it as much as women.”
These lay people seek to live fully: truth, the mercy of God and community. By their consecration, discretely, in a completely normal existence, and by their preaching ‘rooted in their life experience’, they too become witnesses to the Gospel in a Dominican way.
At present there are three Dominican Secular Institutes affiliated to the Dominican Order:
Institut séculier Dominicain d’Orléans (Dominican Secular Institute of Orleans)
Since its foundation under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in 1890, members of the Institute have sought to lead a consecrated life in the midst of the world, following Christ in the spirit of St Dominic.
Members in France, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, England, Haiti, Ivory Coast, DRC, Vietnam, Canada
Mission Notre-Dame de Béthanie
Founded in 1948. Members learn from Blessed Jean-Joseph Lataste, son of Saint Dominic, to extend welcome, and to share Gospel mercy and hope with everyone, especially those whom society rejects.
Members in France, Switzerland, USA
Institut Séculier Saint Dominique
Founded in 1994 by the union of three Dominican Secular Institutes: Saint Amand, founded in 1888 – Saint Nom de Jésus, founded in 1889 – Sainte Catherine de Sienne, founded in 1947
Members in France, Belgium, Canada