How do Dominicans Differ From Other Groups in the Church?
There are three main groups of people in the Catholic Church.
First there is the largest group, the lay faithful. Their role in the Church is to engage in temporal affairs and bring the message of the Gospel into the secular world. They do this in the family, in work, in the political sphere, and so forth.
The second group is the ordained priests. They are consecrated by the Sacrament of Holy Orders to carry out apostolic ministry for the salvation of people, mostly in parishes and diocesan organizations. These are the priests that you are accustomed to come in contact with. They live in a diocese with the bishop as their immediate superior. They are known as ‘secular priests’.
Ordained priests may also be ‘regular priests’ because they follow a ‘regula’ or rule. They do not belong to a diocese but to the universal Church and are at the disposal of the Pope to go where and when he asks. They belong to the following group.
The third group in the Church is consecrated persons, either female or male; the latter may be either priests or brothers. They are more commonly known as ‘religious’. Their specific, but not exclusive, characteristic is to be like Christ who was chaste, poor and obedient. Of course, all people are meant to have these characteristics but consecrated people undertake to live this way of life which is common to all the baptized, in a more intimate and personal manner.
Dominicans belong to ‘regulars’ and the consecrated sections. As such they differ from secular priests and from other Orders, Congregations or Institutes of priests.
There are more than a hundred different Orders and Congregations in the Church. These differ from one another because they see a particular aspect of Christ’s life which they seek to follow. St. Dominic saw Jesus as an itinerant preacher. He intended to have the priests who would follow him spend their time in preaching and in preparing through study to spread the word of God by word of mouth, by the pen, by other modern methods of communication.
By Fr. Paschal Tiernan OP.