It can be disconcerting, exciting, puzzling. Most friars have experienced some of these. Thus one of the most difficult decisions in becoming a Dominican is making that initial contact.
The first email, letter or phone call to the friar appointed to help men interested in becoming Dominicans (often called the “Vocations Director”) can be the most daunting. It need not be so. It is so very simple to make contact.
Each province has its own approach to assisting men become Dominicans.
Common to all is the “novitiate” lasting one year during which a man lives in a Dominican community specially for novices. The novitiate is the first stage in Dominican life even if some provinces have other formal periods of preparation before it.
During that year he begins to live the Dominican life of community, prayer and study under the direction of one friar: the novice master. The full habit of the Order is usually given to novices at the very beginning of the novitiate. An experience of the apostolate (work) of the brothers might also be arranged for him.
There is no obligation on a novice to remain or on the Order to keep a man as a novice.
If the novitiate year goes well, the novice makes temporary commitment to living as a Dominican friar (“simple profession”) usually for three years.
The newly professed student brother then progresses to the studentate – another Dominican community where brothers in initial formation do their formal studies.
Most prepare to be priests so they study philosophy and theology.
At the conclusion of at least three years’ simple profession, if both the brother and the Order are willing, he makes lifelong commitment to living as a Dominican friar called “solemn profession”.
After solemn profession and the completion of studies, brothers preparing for priesthood are ordained first as deacons and finally as priests.