These six “checkpoints” are for you guys who feel you are already “ready” to begin deciding which of the four American provinces you ought to join.
Point #1. Always sufficiently “investigate” the province in which you were born or raised, or in which you lived a significant and formative amount of time. By “investigate” I mean, not just look online at their website, or process certain informations you have received by word of mouth, but actually contact the vocation director/promoter of your “home” province, and request a meeting/interview.
Point #2. Never “choose” a province based on what you believe to be a province’s “reputation.” Because, look, buddy, that’s not how it works in the Dominican Order. Firstly, you never know a province until you get to know it well. (One good way to get to know it well, is by developing a relationship with its vocation director/promoter.) Secondly, a Dominican province is a co-worker in a worldwide Order of sibling, thus equally Dominican, provinces. And thirdly, you may well be called to heroically re-shape, or strengthen, or re-focus, a given province’s so-called “reputation,” whatever it happens to be. Indeed, as we constantly embolden you to realize, God is calling you to heroic action, never to easy placement in the status quo.
Point #3. Remember that your “home” province consists of the kinds of persons God is calling you to serve. Provinces are “mission territories.” Therefore, you have to know the “language” (meant broadly) of the people you are called to serve, in order to serve them excellently,–and this means that your own “language” has to serve as an essential discernment tool for your deciding which province God is calling you to.
Point #4. The only way to accurately “discern” Dominican life is by entering the novitiate of the province that God is calling you to enter. THEREFORE: You, who have not yet entered novitiate, have to choose what is authentically your “home” province, and then use (and therefore, trust) this province’s capacity to form, inform, and prepare you for your future life in the Order, and therefore for your holy religious witness.
Point #5. Feel free to investigate all four provinces; or, feel free to investigate only your “home province,” but this latter, only if there is only one provincial territory, or region, in which you have lived a substantially formative part of your life.
Point #6. If you have lived in more than one Dominican province’s territory for “a substantially formative” time, then ultimately you have to decide which province God is calling you to, among those geographies you know. Don’t worry, though, I’ve got some tips for you.
You properly discern when you:
(a) Communicate with each vocation director/promoter for the provinces in which you have lived, as above described;
(b) Foster a relationship with each relevant vocation director, sharing with him the details/issues surrounding your discernment, and seeking his input;
(c) Actively investigate every reason why God may be calling you to the provinces in question, and
(d) Make a decision based on certain self-knowledge, (which must be acquired through proper direction and prayer,) and only when this decision is primarily one made “toward,” rather than “against,” a given province. For discernment is always movement toward, not movement against.