What attracts people to religious life? Why do so many express interest? What is the profile of enquirers? There is a notion abroad that these people are 'conservative'! Not true, in my experience.
On average, I meet around thirty (30) people who express an interest in the Irish Dominican friars each year. They all fit into the ready made groupings suggested by those with little else to be doing.....so the profile includes 'social justice Catholics', 'charismatic Catholics', 'neoconservative Catholics', 'Vatican II Catholics', 'traditional Catholics' - oh, and Catholics too!! Despite the labelling, two important trends emerge: a desire to know, love and serve Jesus Christ and secondly, to experience authentic community. And overarching all that is the deep desire to be associated with a group of people who have a strong identity.
The identity of any group, religious or otherwise is dependent on the goodwill and authentic lives of its members. I am often amazed when people suggest the holiness of a particular friar as a reason for wanting to join the Order. But I shouldn't be amazed though. We are blessed with many brethren who embody the identity of the Dominican Order by their living authentic lives. And these brothers aren't too interested in labelling others - they are more interested in bringing people closer to the Lord. And thats the purpose of our Order - preaching and the salvation of souls.