The Dominican Laity in the United States, through the leadership of their members, have developed their contemplative-apostolic role in the Order of Preachers within each province of the friars. Chapters are now established in 33 states, and their members collaborate with Canadian laity in the CANAM organization. In 1985 the North American groups welcomed lay Dominicans from all continents to Montreal in 1985 to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the founding of the Third Order in 1285. With a thrust toward the future they emphasized the elements of Dominican spirituality which many lay Catholics seek to live.
A broad vision of the laity was proposed at the first International Conference of the Dominican Family in Bologna in 1983. There, led by the Master of the Order, Vincent de Couesnongle, the members enlarged the concept of "lay Dominican" to include all men and women who "look to Dominic and the Order for inspiration." In the United States these include women and men invited to be associates of many congregations of Dominican Sisters.