Who are the Dominican nuns? (cloistered Dominican nuns)

During my time in Theology school, I learned about other denominations and their practices, which answered many of my questions. I was particularly thirsty for knowledge about the famous Dominican nuns in the Catholic Church. I was part of a small research group in school focused on gathering solid data about topics learned in class. So, after learning about Dominican nuns, we decided to visit a Monastery in America to research further who the Dominican nuns were. We collected data from the Monasteries’ heads, which helped us understand them better. So last week, we discussed the history of Dominican nuns in our interdenominational online forum, and one member said that he had only heard about them that day. He then asked for more details about them before we delved into the topic. Many Catholics answered, and I also offered my detailed answer. So, who are the Dominican nuns?

Dominican nuns are a group of cloistered religious women leading a life of seclusion in Monasteries and dedicating themselves to prayer and preaching. St. Dominic formed the Dominican order, and the nuns were the first to be a part of it. The Dominican nuns are, therefore, an exceptional group of women to St. Dominic. Also, they are a group focused on sharing God’s truth with people.

Join me in this article as I write about the religion of Dominican Nuns. I will also discuss the steps you should follow if you want to join the Dominican order. Read on to find out more.

What religion are Dominican sisters?

Dominican Sisters are part of the Christian religion under the Catholic denomination. They believe in holistic education, and they pursue truth in all their endeavors as people of Christ. They preach the gospel of God through their actions and words. They also believe that it is only through Christ, the truth, by which people are set free and enabled to live the life of the Father, God, as written in John 8:31-32

How many Dominican nuns are there?

cloistered Dominican nuns
How many Dominican nuns are there? Image source: Pixabay

There are approximately 21,324 Dominican sisters in the world, with 3000 cloistered Dominican nuns living in the Monasteries. Unlike The Dominican sisters who spread and preach the word of God as part of their apostolic duty, these 3000 are completely isolated in monasteries. The number of Dominican nuns started growing in the 19th Century after Catholic women started spreading the gospel of the Dominican order across the world. In the 1950s, there was the greatest number of women joining Dominican sisters.

How many monasteries are there for Dominican nuns in the world?

There are approximately 219 Monasteries for Dominican nuns in the world. The first one was founded by the founder’s father, St Dominic de Guzman. It was founded in 1206. As time went by, the Dominican nuns became popular, and they spread around the world, making other Monasteries. Most of the Monasteries are found in Spain and Italy. However, there is a rapid increase in the number of Dominican nuns in Africa and America which means there could be more Monasteries in those regions in the future.

Most of the Monasteries in a state are linked to one another. For instance, there are around 12 monasteries for Dominican nuns in France, which host almost 200 nuns. Eleven of them are connected in that they are under one Federation, The Federation of Our Lady of Preachers. Being under a Federation strengthens the solidarity that unites the Monasteries. It also helps in helping different monasteries overcome their problems.

Where did the Dominican sisters originate from?

The Dominican sisters originate from the works of St. Dominic, which was founded before the formation of Friars. During the time when he was preaching against Albigensian dualists, the Dominican discovered one brutal truth. He discovered that there were many women who were victims of the dualist’s rejection of body and marriage. The women had no right to own property or life rights after their husbands made decisions to join the dualists.

While in France, Dominic invited these hopeless women to join his life of prayer at Prouilhe in the southwestern parts. In this manner, Dominic helped these women have access to proper shelter and security, as well as offering them the life purpose of prayer and fellowship. They became part of the Monastery at Prouilhe.

However, between 1206 and 1216, the Dominican nuns struggled to create a good relationship with Friars. Throughout the centuries, the Friars tried to get rid of the nuns as they considered them a burden. However, they have lived and learned to help each other and fellowship together.

How are the Dominican nuns different from regular Catholic nuns?

cloistered Dominican nuns
Dominican nuns vs regular Catholic nuns. Image source: Pixabay

Dominican nuns are more apostolic than other regular Catholic nuns. They strive to live holy lives full of prayer. At the same time, they share the truth of God with everyone by preaching verbally or through their actions. In addition, they are guided by the mission of their order. On the other hand, regular Catholic nuns are religious women who choose to live contemplative lives in semi-closed or enclosed Monasteries. Their lives revolved around the monasteries, and they could minister through their actions and goodness. They live by their perpetual vows that include poverty, obedience, and celibacy.

What is the mission of the Dominican nuns?

Proclaiming God’s word to the world

One of the missions of Dominican nuns is to spread the good news to humanity worldwide. They preach the good news because they are followers of Christ who do what Christ commands them. In the book of Mark 16:15, believers of Christ are commanded to preach the gospel to all creatures in the world.

Praising God

Another mission of the Dominican nuns is to praise God. They praise God in a very simple way. For instance, living a life full of gratitude for who God is and what He does. They also praise Him by creating a deep relationship with him which in turn inspire people around them, making them yearn to know God better. In addition, Dominican sisters strive to relate well with other people. In this manner, they inspire other people to relate well with one another so that society lives in harmony.

To bless

Dominican Nuns also focus on blessing others as part of their mission in life. They believe that God blesses them so that they can be sources of blessings to others. They live their daily lives with love and compassion towards each other and other people. They happily serve others and strive to be part of justice promoters because they have a deep and genuine love for humanity. They generally live a life that shows their devotion to caring about everyone on Earth. In this manner, they become a blessing to people around them and the world at large.

How can one join the Dominican order?

Who are the Dominican nuns?
How can one join the Dominican order? Image source: Pixabay

This depends on how you want to be a part of the Dominican Order. If you want to be a sister, you will follow these steps; Enquiry, pre-novitiate, novitiate, and first profession.

Inquiry stage

The first stage is being in contact with the Dominican nuns for the first three or two years. During this time, the Dominican sisters stand with the woman who is hoping to be a Dominican; they pray for her as a way of support. They also answer any of her questions concerning the religious type of life and the Dominican order.

During the period of Enquiry, there is a Vocation Promotion Coordinator who offers guidance to all the enquirers. She plays the role of organizing each Enquirers’s visit to the Dominican communities. She may also suggest and take each of them through a retreat visit so that they have an experience of being in the order.

Pre-Novitiate stage

This is the second stage, where each of the women who passed through stage one gets to write a letter to the Congregation Prioress. The letter is meant to let the Prioress know of their intentions to join the pre-novitiate stage. It is also important to state the reasons for wishing to be part of the Dominican sisters. After this, the Vocation Coordinator sends the application form, which applicants will fill in their details but with her guidance.

This stage should take approximately one year. A guide, who is an experienced Dominican sister, is given to each of the women in the program as their formatter. She will be responsible for showing the newcomers how to live in their community and show them how liturgy and prayers are conducted. This stage basically gives the women more time to discern as they will experience the Dominican way of life. It is also preparing each of them for the next stage, called the Novitiate stage.

Novitiate stage

This stage lasts two years, and it helps you discern if you really have a calling to the Dominican order with the help of the other Dominican sisters. It is also a time to completely learn the Dominican tradition and culture by being in a community with other sisters. In this stage, the Novitice Mistress forms the program for you and guides you together with the other sisters. Also, in this period, you will have to have some withdrawal and inner quietness, which will be much more possible due to the environment around you where people are focused on prayer. You will also pray and get to know Christ more during this personal time. Lastly, you will be prepared for the forthcoming commitment in the next stage.

First Profession stage

Once the two years of the Novitiate stage are completed, the women will be required to request an acceptance to be part of the temporary profession for not less than three years. They now become Temporary Professed Sisters, and then they will be instructed to join a specific community of Dominican sisters. At this point, the women are qualified to partake in pastoral ministries and have formal theological studies. For three years, each woman will have a mentor sister to guide and challenge them to become better in their commitment.

At the end of the three years, they can now assess themselves and see if they were indeed called for the Dominican kind of life. The congregation of sisters will also help each woman identify if, indeed, they were meant to be a part of them. Each of them will then enter into the perpetual profession, where they make a lifelong commitment to be a Dominican order, with hope and faith in God that He will guide each individual and grant them everything they need to be faithful to Him.

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