Over the last decade, I've noticed a change in the Dominican order - a remarkable and beautiful shift towards orthodoxy.
This change is being led - for the most part - by the JPII generation. No surprises here. What is interesting, however, is that the Dominican boomer contingent seems happy to go along with it. At the very least, they're allowing the younger ones to be faithful and get their orthodoxy thang goin' on without running interference (unlike, say, the Jesuits).
And the result has been an increase in vocations. This month the Dominican Province of St. Joseph (in the east of the US) formally accepted 21 men as novices -- the province's largest novitiate class since 1966.
Here's their (orthodox!) perspective on why this has occurred:
"There has been talk among some that the Second Vatican Council represented a break with the past and the introduction of something completely new for the church," he said. "It's a shift, there's renewal, there are graces given, the Holy Spirit works and raises up new things -- but there's still continuity here. And the Dominicans are the beneficiaries of their own continuity -- of 800 years."
In 1965, the year Vatican II ended, there were 12,271 religious brothers in the United States, compared with 4,690 in 2010, and 58,632 total priests, compared with 39,993 in 2010, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
Despite efforts in other Catholic orders since the council to alter their own traditions and teachings with the aim of appealing to a younger, wider audience, for the Province of St. Joseph, "there was not a whole lot of toying or monkeying with the liturgy," Father Garrot said, adding that he thinks some other orders have actually hurt their recruitment efforts by straying from their tradition.
"All I can hope is that we're riding the crest of what will happen for everyone else in due time as they reclaim their tradition and settle," he said.Communal prayer and the wearing of religious habits are traditional aspects of Dominican life, for example, that Father Garrot said attracted many of the novices, who are to take their first vows in a year.
The current vocations director, Father Croell said that the traditional attracts men because "we're living in uncertain times right now, very secular times, and there's a number of factors that young men are looking for."
"They're looking for something transcendent, they're looking for a purpose in their life -- a lot of people are searching," he said.
You can find further information on the Dominican rite, if you're interested, here.
Please join me in praying for these wonderful young men. May God bless them and assist them in their discernment. May He keep them true in and to their vocations all the days of their lives.