Are Dominican Associates?
Associates are Christian women and men; married, single,
divorced, and widowed; clergy members and lay persons
who were first drawn to and then called to live out
the charism and continue the mission of the Dominican
Order - to praise, to bless, to preach. Associates do
not take vows, but rather make a commitment to be partners
with vowed members, and to share the mission and charism
of the Dominican Family in their own lives, families,
churches, neighborhoods, workplaces, and cities. Associates
participate in the life of the Congregation through
their involvement in prayer, study and ministry. They
strive to extend the Dominican presence into the many
worlds in which they live. They are engaged in all walks
of life and whether they are attorneys, homemakers,
teachers, business-owners or factory workers, they try
to live their daily lives intentionally as Dominicans.
They preach the Good News through the voices of their
work, their art, and their lives, following the example
of Catherine of Siena, who reminds them: "Preach
the Truth as if you had a million voices. It is silence
that kills the world."
are no "rules" or "standards" common
to all Dominican congregations regarding how one becomes
an Associate. Because Associates began as a grass-roots
movement responding to the desire of non-vowed persons
to be connected with a particular congregation, each
congregation developed their own formation process independently
of others. Some have a sort of "independent study"
with a vowed member that takes place over at least a
year. Others have a group process that includes
involvement of vowed members and experienced Associates
and also extends over the period of at least a year.
all congregations do have in common is that there issome
sort of formation process and a commitment or covenant
ceremony that "officializes" the Associate's
connection with the congregation. The Associates
of some congregations make permanent commitments from
the very beginning while others make temporary commitments
which may eventually lead to a lifetime commitment.
Associate Programs have the Associates as "free
agents", participating in whatever activities and
groups the congregation is involved with. Others
have "Associate Groups", that may or
may not include vowed members, which meet usually on
a monthly basis for shared prayer, study, support in
living the Dominican charism and mission, and social
level of participation of Associates in the life and
activities of a congregation vary widely between congregations.
Some are limited to sharing in common prayer, study
days and volunteer activities within a congregation
while others are fully incorporated into the life of
the community, even to planning and attending all sessions
of the congregation's General Chapter. Associates
do NOT have voting privileges, of course, as that is
a canonical responsibility. Associates do not make promises,
as do the Dominican Laity, to do any particular things,
like pray the Divine Office, for instance. Commitment
is to the Dominican mission and charism, and for each
of us living as Dominicans looks very different according
to our own gifts, talents and passions.