From the foreword by Fr. J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. to the booklet Holy Dominicans (Dominican Province of St. Joseph, 1997).
What this means is that the particular “charism” of a religious community—Dominicans, Franciscans, Jesuits, and the like—is first of all a gift of the Holy Spirit to the founders of these communities—St. Dominic, St. Francis, St. Ignatius, and others—which they sought to embody in the distinctive forms of Christian life that they established and sought to hand on to future generations. Religious institutes or communities are organized forms of consecrated life, recognized and approved by the Church, in which the fullness of the following of Christ’s way can be found and pursued.
Thus we can say that being a Dominican is not something in addition to being a Christian; it is a way of being a Christian. The Dominican charism captures all of the essential elements of Christian life, but shaped according to the distinctive grace, vision, genius and example of St. Dominic. By giving her approval to a religious institute, the Church in effect guarantees that whoever is called and subsequently undertakes to follow Christ in this community will find the way well, but distinctively, marked out.”