There are many ways of being a Dominican. From the beginning of the Order, men and women felt moved to help Dominic’s mission of preaching and join in as they could while still living with their families or continuing in their way of life. Already by the end of the thirteenth century, these friends of the Order and groups of lay people who resonated with Dominican spirituality were invited to become officially aggregated to the Order by adopting a Rule of Life approved by the Master of the Order and suited to their circumstances.
By adopting the Rule, lay Dominicans committed not only to living holy lives and doing works of charity, but also to being a part of the preaching mission of the Order:
They have as their vocation to radiate the presence of Christ in the midst of the peoples so that the divine message of salvation be known and accepted everywhere by the whole of humankind. (from the Rule of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic)
Today’s Lay Dominican Fraternities around the world are direct descendents of these early groups. In addition there are many other types of groups of lay people associated with the Order, including the International Dominican Youth Movement, with groups around the world who belong to the movement in different ways; Dominican Volunteers International, where faithful lay people join in the preaching mission of a particular Dominican community full time for a year or more, working with those who are poor or excluded; and associate programs of friends of many individual congregations of sisters, nuns and priories.