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Who Are Dominican Associates?

Dominican 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."

There 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.

What 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. 

Some 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 activities.

The 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.

SOURCE:  Anita Davidson, OPA (Peace)