Because the Dominican Order regards itself as a “clerical Order,” as it says in our Constitutions, what Dominic understands as Dominican “preaching” is foundationally, although not limitedly, rooted in the priestly/clerical activity of its ordained friars.
This does not mean the cooperator brother is out-of-place among the friars. He is among the friars as an equal and as a brother and as a friend. Without him, importantly, the friars are not themselves, for Dominic does not envision the friars without the cooperator brother.
Yet, because the preaching of the Order is founded, (although not limited,) in priestly work, the cooperator brother is understood as an associate to such work,–he “cooperates,” which is to say, “works alongside it,”–and while his own preaching and work is significantly preaching and Dominican, it is nevertheless a kind of preaching other than, or different from, the priest friar’s.
This points to, and celebrates, the breadth and the width, both the ingenuity and the creativity, of Dominican preaching; it does not de-legitimize the preaching of the cooperator brother, or other non-ordained members of the Order.
The cooperator brother stands always conversant with, in cooperation with, his priest brother. Their work is harmonious and symmetrical. Indeed fully a friar, the cooperator brother plays a role “other than” that role which the priest friar plays.
The Constitutions say the cooperator brother shares in the preaching by virtue of his common priesthood. This, again, points to preaching in its broad and creative sense. A cooperator brother, therefore, has freedom to engage ministries, activities, and leadership activities that a priest cannot in the same way commit himself to. Many diverse positions in schools, universities, hospitals, and other entities or institutions, and also unique apostolates that serve the arts or new media, remain the territory of the cooperator brother.