The third order of St Dominic, the Lay Dominicans : a possible way forward for an order in crisis
This dissertation deals with the Roman Catholic Order founded by Saint Dominic in 1215. The Order encompasses Friar Preachers, Christian Brothers, Active Religious Sisters, Contemplative Sisters and the Lay Dominicans. Saint Dominic was instrumental in defeating heresy in southern France, which had been brought about by former Christians alienated from the Church and its teachings. During this period, Saint Dominic and his helpers were threatened and abused for challenging heresy and for reconverting former heretics to Christianity. In 1207, Saint Dominic and his helpers met a group of ladies and converted them back to their former ascetic lives as Catholic nuns. The land and shelter acquired for them adjacent to the Church of Saint Mary of Prouille was to become the first established convent for Dominican nuns. Saint Dominic continued his preaching and teaching as the Dominican Order developed, the first English Priory being established in Oxford on 15th August 1221. Within a century, fifty Priories had been set up in the United Kingdom alone. Prior to his death in 1221, Saint Dominic had been instrumental in the establishment of the Rule and Constitution of the Order, which covered liturgy and asceticism and dealt with aspects concerning the government of the Order. The Rule and Constitution of the Order still applies in today. However, the last three decades have seen the Order facing a crisis with continuing falling numbers of entrants from the western World. This dissertation examines the possible causes and effects of such a decline, along with the impact this has had on its present and future continuation as seen by the Dominicans themselves. The author also explores a possible solution to relieve the crisis.
- Theology