Hello Father Angelo,
my name is Maria.
I would like to ask you something about the Dominican Third Order. I am a member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary. Does this mean that I am also a member of the Third Order?
If it doesn’t, can you give me information about how to become one?
I am asking you this because I have a friend who belongs to the Third Franciscan Secular Order and, as far as I understand, that is also a confraternity.
God bless you. I will pray for you, if you could pray for me as well, I would be pleased.
The Priest’s Answer
I am finally here, albeit with a big delay.
1. Coming to your questions: the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary is not the same as the Dominican Third Order, which is currently known as Dominican Laity.
Tertiaries belong to the Order, while the members of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary belong to the Dominican family.
2. These two things may look similar, but they aren’t.
Tertiaries have a Rule to observe and a spirituality (the Dominican spirituality) to practice.
They are supposed to participate to the Holy Mass (possibly every day), to pray the Holy Rosary daily, pray the Office of the Virgin, although to omit any of these practices is not a sin.
Their spirituality is essentially apostolic.
They have meetings. They have superiors, masters of formation.
They are subject to the (general) Master of the Dominican order.
In the past, they had their own habit. Tertiary women were dressed as the Dominican nuns are dressed today.
Tertiary men were dressed in black and white, which are the colors of the Dominican habit.
3. The members of the Holy Rosary Confraternity share with Dominicans the devotion to Mary’s Rosary.
Their obligations are related to the prayer of the Holy Rosary entirely (15 mysteries) during the week.
When praying the Holy Rosary, they pray also for the intentions of all the other members of the Confraternity, in particular the friars, sisters and nuns of the Order of Saint Dominic.
And thus, in life, death and afterlife they partake of the merits, prayers and apostolic efforts of all the members of the Order and the members of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary.
Anyone, including members of other religious orders or congregations, can be members of it. They therefore belong to the Dominican Family, but not to the Dominican Order.
It is an association similar to the Militia Angelica of Saint Thomas.
The person, who adheres to it, benefits from Saint Thomas’ patronage in the virtue of purity.
While offering his prayers to all the other members, he also benefits from the merits of the prayers made by the others.
He does not become a member of the Dominican Order. He can be part of any other Order or Congregation. However, he benefits from the Dominican Order’s and the Dominican family’s merits.
4. If you want to be part of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary or the Militia Angelica, it is sufficient to write to me.
As to the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, after accepting your request, I will send your name and place of residence to the Holy Rosary Center of the Province of Saint Dominic in Italy.
As to the Militia Angelica, I will include the member’s name in the register, which is kept in our Dominican Church in Alessandria.
5. If you want to be part of the Third Order or Dominican Laity, it is necessary to address a local confraternity.
It is thus required to contact a Dominican convent (generally the closest one to you) or the Prior of the fraternity or the Master of formation, to participate to the fraternity meetings (which are generally formation meetings), to undergo a period of discernment, which is followed by one year of novitiate and, after that, by the profession, that is at first temporary (usually 3 years), and then perpetual.
6. Instead, the affiliation with the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary does not require those steps and, once you have done it, it will last forever.
It is a spiritual fraternity related to a prayer.
While the Third Order fraternity, which is spiritual as well, consists in a particular form of life, the Saint Dominic Order’s life and spirituality.
Thank you for your questions. They will be probably useful to many of our visitors. My special thanks for the prayer you promised me.
I heartily reciprocate it and bless you.
Translated by Irene Visciano