You know you are called to preach the truth. You want to live in witness to it. You want to burn with apostolic and prophetic zeal,–the zeal of saints. You want to cloak yourself in the virtue, in the courage of Dominic, and be a light unto nations.
Also: You know you are called to something “other than” the priesthood; for you do not feel a desire for priestly ministry or responsibility. You know you would not be yourself in priesthood. This, of course, is not primarily what you believe; it is only something that is apparent to you, because you know yourself. You want to be a friar; you want to be a Dominican; you want to embrace wholeheartedly holy obedience (and with it holy chastity and poverty); you want to be a brother among brothers.
You believe you are called to a specified ministry, one that is unusual perhaps, or uncommon. Or you believe you are called to devote yourself in a certain and exemplary way to a specified profession, to some institute, or mission.
Indeed, and for the sake of the Order, the cooperator brother should be given to imaginatively exploring, and expanding, yet un-conceived territories within the Preaching mission.
Ultimately, though, this freedom is not what most characterizes the cooperator brother. What characterizes the cooperator brother is his ardent commitment to Dominican Life and to its charism in the singular way, and from the unique perspective, that he does and has. Alter frater, or “another” friar, the cooperator brother stands as both witness and guardian of the Dominican Life we profess. The cooperator brother’s own Preaching extends from this Life and yet enriches it through its alternate role.
As only a hand might compliment the activity of an eye through its own distinct activity (and the other way around, also) and in so doing compliment it through its being something “other than,” so does the cooperator brother compliment, and complement, the priestly activity of the Order.
God, send us more saintly cooperator brothers, so to renew and re-form our sacred mission.