“Religious institutes–as the various orders and congregations are called–are organized forms of consecrated life, recognized and approved by the Church, in which the fullness of the following of Christ can be found and pursued. Hence, the importance of fidelity to the founding charism and subsequent religious heritage of the religious community. In the words of Pope John Paul II: “It is precisely in this fidelity to the inspiration of the founders and foundresses…that the essential elements of the consecrated life can be more readily discerned and more fervently put into practice” (Vita Consecrata § 36).
The Dominican charism captures all the essential elements of the Christian life, but configured according to the characteristic grace, vision, genius and example of St. Dominic (Bedouelle 1987). Ecclesiastical approval of the Constitutions of the Order is not simply a canonical formality, but a certification that the form of life to which the Dominican charism has given rise encompasses the way of the Gospel in its entirety. A form of life found in its institutional and communal embodiments, it is also a tradition of practical wisdom to whose tutelage one commends one’s life and destiny. One’s personal identity, one’s own life, one’s ways of thinking and acting, come to be shaped by the distinctive form of life to which the Dominican charism has given rise.”
Excerpt from “THE DOMINICAN CHARISM IN CATHOLIC HIGHER EDUCATION: Providence College on the Eve of its Second Century,” by J. Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inaugural Academic Convocation at Providence College , 1 October 2005.