Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

Men of the Word: The Dominican Cooperator Brother

Despite questions regarding his status in the Dominican Order, which were recently raised by the excellent research of Fr. Augustine Thompson entitled St. Martin de Porres, Donatus, today’s saint, St. Martin de Porres gives us good reason to celebrate a too-often unsung vocation in the Dominican family: the cooperator brother.

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Brother Michael James Rivera, O.P., cooperator brother of the Western Dominican Province

Not all men who join the Dominican Order as friars feel called to serve Christ as priests.  Yet, these brothers should not be regarded solely as laborers, left to do the menial tasks so the ordained brothers can go out and preach.  Our cooperator brothers fill a very important role within the Order.

First, they remind us, especially their ordained brothers, that we are first called to be religious.  As one of our recent Masters of the Order reminded us, our friars are not simply diocesan priests who wear a habit.  They are first religious, called to live according to the Rule and Constitutions, to focus on prayer and study and support the common good of community life.

Second, our cooperator brothers are called to be especially contemplative, an example to the other brothers with whom they live.  The cooperator brother’s life is not shaped by sacerdotal ministry; their ministry, their preaching springs from prayer and discernment with the community.  They are called to witness to Jesus as a brother.

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Brother Herman Johnson, O.P., cooperator brother of the Southern Dominican Province

Which brings us to number three: they can often go where priests cannot.  Their ministry may be teaching in a school or college, or perhaps working in social media, or filling any number of necessary or needed ministries.  Regardless, their work often brings them in greater contact with people who would not come near a church, campus ministry or anything formally religious.  The cooperator brother preaches Jesus as brother to the people where they encounter them.

The cooperator brother fully participates in the life of the Order: prayer, study, community and preaching.  The Order, and the world, need them as living examples of Jesus as our brother, and a different example of masculinity than the harsh reality we encounter in the world today: as men completely fascinated with Jesus and His Word and burning with a desire to share their love for Christ with others as a compassionate, strong brother.

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Brother Daniel Thomas, O.P., cooperator brother of the Western Dominican Province

If you are interested in learning more about the Dominican friars, contact your local Province.  Here are links to the four provinces for the United States: Western Province, Eastern Province, Central Province, Southern Province.  What are you waiting for?

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