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Religious Life



“Religious Life is a living reminder in the Church of the invitation to be in love with God.” (Carlos Mascusi) It is a life form in the Church of women and men who respond to God’s calling. They take vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience, which free them to give their identify to the purpose of the congregation, and for particular ways of living the mission of Jesus in the world and the Church.



There are congregations of religious sisters, religious brothers, and religious order priests. Each of these has apostolic/ministerial forms and contemplative/monastic forms. The apostolic/ministerial religious lead lives of ministry in schools, parishes, social services, health care and other Church-related ministries. They share different forms of community life with varied responsibilities for the life of the congregation. The contemplative/monastic religious live enclosed lives in monasteries where many take an additional vow of stability to the monastery. Their lives are centered on a rhythm of prayer and reflection with time for varied internal ministries, which support the monastery according to their charism and mission.



You can approach any sister, brother or religious order priest you may know to learn more about their communities, the kind of ministry they do, what community life is like, and why they became religious. Share your questions and ask for some direction and perhaps a visit to their community. The Diocesan Vocation Office has information on the different groups of religious and can help you find a contact. Most communities also have websites, photos, and other information to help you make a connection with their vocation directors. Ideally, you will find a spiritual director to give you guidance.



Your local parish priests and sisters, campus ministers, brothers and other teachers can help find someone for you. The Diocesan Vocation Office and the Office of the Delegate for Religious will have names of trained spiritual directors to help you. Some colleges offer online retreats with sisters and brothers. They are a one-week commitment to time for prayer and reflection, and daily meetings online or over the phone with a director, who may be available for long-term direction.

What are some
other resources?



The National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) publishes Vision a magazine on religious life in general, discernment questions and the experiences of contemporary women and men asking about religious life. Horizon is another quarterly publication covering many basic approaches to discernment and religious life. The NRVC website has many resources, webinars and information.



Many saints are the founders of religious congregations, their lives themselves responses to the particular needs of their day to serve God’s people, often in times of extreme need. This shaped the kinds of ministry their congregations do to this day. The saints’ lives tell us about the radical call to leave our often comfortable lives and follow God’s call to spread the Gospel and love of Jesus through service, prayer, and community. These saints often did new things in their time, such as founding schools, hospitals and orphanages, caring for the poor, preaching the Gospel, and building up the Church. Their spirit lives on in their communities today. Examples of such saints include. St. Francis of Assisi, St. Vincent DePaul, St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Catherine McCauley, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and many, many others.



Popes throughout the ages have encouraged religious life to flourish and grow so the needs of God’s people can be served. Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have encouraged religious brothers and sisters to be real witnesses of the Gospel in a counter-cultural way of life that relies on spirit of generosity and self-forgetfulness.



If you are thinking of a life of service, reflection and community, speak to someone you know and trust about your thoughts. Look into different forms of religious life on the internet to get some basic information. Contact the Diocesan Vocation Office to help connect you to some religious in the diocese who are ready to help you, answer your questions and meet with you.


Keep an open heart to whatever it is God is asking of you in your life. Pray for that inner direction from God. Share that desire with a trusted director who can help you reflect on God’s movements in you and the choices before you. God’s desire for each of us is that we be happy and live our lives with meaning, wherever that path may lead. For some it is religious life, for some it is married or single life. Wherever it is, if we walk with God, our lives will make a difference not only for us, but for all we serve.