Having discerned a divine calling to follow in the footsteps of St. Dominic, the aspiring Dominican is invited to make contact with our vocations promoters who will guide him through the application process. An aspirant must be a practising Catholic already involved in the life of the Church. He must be healthy, single, and feel called to a life of celibacy, community, and service as a messenger of God’s Word to the world.
Having been accepted by the admissions board of the local province, he is welcomed in the spirit of fraternal charity by the local community to begin his pre-novitiate. An aspirant or postulant is a candidate who, though not officially a member of the Order, lives with the brothers and shares in the life and mission of the community.
Following a retreat, the aspirant is then ready to become a novice. This is marked by the reception of the habit in a very simple but impressive ceremony. The brother receives the white tunic, a leather belt, rosary beads, a white scapular and capuce (hood), and finally a black cappa (cloak) and capuce. The laying aside of secular dress followed by the clothing with the religious habit are deeply significant acts in which the novice makes his own the admonition of St. Paul: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Rom 13:14).
At the beginning of this ceremony, the superior asks the aspirant: “What do you seek?”, to which the aspirant replies: “God’s mercy and yours”. This question will again be asked when the new religious comes to make his first profession of vows and also when the time comes for final profession. At these decisive moments of his religious life, therefore, the Dominican acknowledges God’s mercy as the source of every blessing and the Dominican Order as the divine instrument through which the blessings of his vocation are bestowed upon him. And this is true not only at the time of clothing and profession of vows but indeed throughout the life of the religious. Initiation into the Order is the start of a new way of life, a life aimed at the pursuit of Christian perfection attained by the grace and mercy of God.
The superior who clothes the aspirants with the habit reminds them in a short address of the essentials of religious life, the particular features and practices of Dominican life and the observances of the Order. To emphasise the beginning of a new way of life in a religious family, a religious name may be taken by the novice. On the day of the novice’s religious clothing, the prescribed year of novitiate officially begins. The novice is free to leave at any time and the Order is equally free to send him away should it be persuaded that he does not have a vocation to our way of life.