The stages of joining the Lay Dominicans in the English Province (which includes Scotland and Wales) are these:
1. Period of Inquiry.
This lasts from six to 12 months, and gives you the opportunity to get to know your local group, to consider with them your individual circumstances and decide with them whether this form of life looks to be a good fit with your vocation and your way of following Christ.
2. Time of First Formation.
This corresponds to the novitiate among the Friars and Sisters. If you and the Fraternity or Fraternal Group are in agreement, and you want to move to this stage, you will be formally Admitted to the Fraternity or Fraternal Group in the presence of the President, the Formation Officer and the Religious Assistant, and receive a blessed white Scapular.
You will be given a special period of instruction during this time, in a small group or sometimes with the whole Fraternity/Fraternal Group. The instruction will include researching Dominican Saints, learning about the history and tradition of the Order and the Rule and Directory of the Lay Dominicans, learning to say the Office if you haven’t already done this, and discussion of Scripture and of the Faith. There may also be some discussion at this stage of recent Church documents and of the demands of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation.
If you have attended regularly and you want to continue, you may after this time (which will last at least a year) ask to make Temporary Profession. The arrangements for applying to do this are different for Fraternities and Fraternal Groups. The local President and Formation Officer will guide you on what you need to do (you may, for example, be asked to write a letter of application explaining why you want to make Profession as a Lay Dominican), and explain about the voting arrangements and the timing of your application, the decision-making process, and (if your application is accepted) the Profession itself.
3. Temporary Profession.
This period corresponds to Simple Vows for the Dominican Friars, and Temporary Profession for the Dominican Sisters. It last three years, and may be renewed for another three. It begins with a liturgical rite of Profession, in which you make a public promise to the President and the Religious Assistant to live according to the Rule of the Laity of St Dominic for three years, and receive a book of the Gospels as a sign of your commission to be a preacher of the Faith. You are also admitted to all the spiritual goods of the Dominican Family (e.g. your deceased relatives share in the Order’s Masses for the Dead, and there are special Masses for our parents every year if they are deceased).
During this period you will continue to attend the monthly meetings, to study Scripture and Theology on your own and with the group, and to begin or continue to study recent Church documents and the demands of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (the Signs of the Times). You will also develop your own Dominican Apostolate, on your own or with others, which will include sharing your faith in appropriate contexts, perhaps in the context of your local parish or in your family or at your place of work.
You are able to be voted onto the local Fraternity Council during this period, and you take part in the full life of the Fraternity or Fraternal Group, which should include an annual retreat or day(s) of recollection with opportunity for the sacrament of Reconciliation, the Provincial Assembly, Regional Days and other Dominican Family events.
4. Perpetual Profession.
You apply to make Perpetual Profession as before, with the same voting arrangements. The liturgy is substantially the same as for Temporary Profession, except that this time the promises are for life. At this stage, you are eligible to be voted President of your Fraternity, and to be voted onto the Lay Provincial Council. You should be taking a leading part now in the life of your Fraternity, and helping to support and form others.