Oil Paitnting by Sr Mary Grace Thul - the Risen Christ
Risen Christ

“His (St Dominic’s) thirst for knowledge of the Word was insatiable, and his love for holy books a passion. He was wholly devoted to the pursuit of learning. Why? For the sake of preaching, defending the Faith and illuminating the minds of men  with sound doctrine.”

What is a Dominican?  The first, obvious answer is that a Dominican is a follower of St. Dominic, a member of the Order of Preachers which he founded in the early 13th century to combat the evils of the age by preaching God’s truth.

The motto of the Order is Veritas (Truth), the Truth that never changes.

The purpose of the Order is to praise God; to bless Our Lord in prayer, adoration, meditation and contemplation; and to preach His Truth (“Laudere, Benedicere, Praedicare” or ” to praise, to bless, to preach”).

Today, just as in 1216, the Order of Preachers is called to preach and defend the Faith throughout the world, to revitalize those of dormant faith, lax morality, and heretical wanderings. The First Order, the Dominican priests and brothers, preach Christ crucified (the Way for us all, the Truth and the Life) and teach theology to religious and laity, in missions, colleges, seminaries, and parish churches.

The cloistered nuns of the Second Order study, continually praise God, and pray for all of us. So important was their mission of prayer, that St. Dominic established their order even before the First Order.  The sisters were praying long before Dominic sent the first pairs of his friars out to combat untruths and heresies with the Truth that is Jesus.

Many groups make up the Third Order. There are the many orders of active Dominican Sisters who live in community but have active apostolates in the world. There are also the many chapters throughout the world for lay and ordained Catholics who are not already members of congregations or other orders. The lay branch of the the Dominican family has historically been a member of the third order. Today, however, third order Dominican lay people are referred to formally as lay Dominicans. In informal settings, the third order term is still frequently used.

Lay Dominican members live in, but are not of, the world: sanctifying their secular vocations by offering all to and for Our Lord; interspersing their daily work with prayer, study, contemplation, and praise; approaching others with love as they share the Truth which the fathers preach.

Saint Dominic de Guzman, (1170-1221)

Whether First, Second, or Third Order, all Dominicans are one family united as followers of the clear-thinking, humble, obedient, most loving Dominic.  Members of the Lay Fraternities of St. Dominic follow the Rule of St. Dominic by: praying (Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, daily Mass, prayers for deceased Dominicans, etc.); reading, studying, and contemplating the Bible and other spiritual works; fasting; attending monthly meetings with the community, confessing frequently; making yearly retreats; and observing other practices.


After a postulancy period of approximately 6 months, a Catholic in good standing with the Church can seek admittance to the Dominican Order as a Third Order novice. This is a one-year commitment to seek God’s will and practice the Rule of St. Dominic, in addition to pursuing a twelve month formation course.

After the novice formation is completed, the candidate may request to make a three-year profession as a Dominican. If accepted, the member receives the white scapular of the Order and continues to live by the Rule, becoming more involved in the life of the Chapter. At the end of the three-year profession, the member may renew the profession or request to make perpetual profession.

There are 80,000 Third Order Dominicans worldwide. Explore the opportunities for spiritual growth with a community of Catholics living in the world by visiting us or a local chapter near you (North American Laity Directory). Other names used to refer to the Third Order members or chapters are Dominican Laity and Dominican Tertiaries.

The Immaculate Conception Chapter of the Third Order of Preachers meets at the Dominican House of Studies, 487 Michigan Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C., on the third Sunday of each month, to pursue study, to share ideas, and to praise God together.  If you would like visit with us during  one of our meetings, please email

Members may be married, single, or ordained. Many vocations are represented (journalism, public affairs, homemaking, teaching, nursing, military service, publishing, engineering, science, health, law, etc.) and many ministries (pro-life action and legislation, business ethics, religious education, writing, shelters, radio, etc.)

St. Catherine of Siena, our former satellite chapter, meets on the first Saturday of the month at St Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, Va  Other regional chapters meet across the Baltimore-Washington Metro area at different times.  For times and contact
information, please e-mail us at

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