The contribution that Consecrated or Religious Life makes to the Church is to demonstrate in a telling way that conformity to the life of Jesus is a surpassing good.
“The consecrated life, deeply rooted in the example and teaching of Christ the Lord, is a gift of God the Father to His church through the Holy Spirit.”
(Vita Consecrata, 1)
Each religious order or congregation has a particular gift that they offer for the Church. This gift is known as their “Charism.” This gift helps them to focus their mission and ministry on some particular aspect of the Church’s mission.
Members of Religious Orders make solemn vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.
Some religious orders are apostolic (active in the world), some monastic and some cloistered. The cloistered communities do not live and minister actively in the outside world. Their life and work of prayer is primarily contained within their monastery setting.
While Diocesan priests minister within a geographical area, Religious Order priests may be sent to various parts of the United States or in other parts of the world. This depends on the different areas where their Order has communities.
In some men’s religious communities, some of the members are ordained to the priesthood and some are not. Those who are not ordained are called “Brothers.” Both the priests and brothers within these communities are equal in their membership.
The process of joining a religious community actually takes some time and involves several stages. The first step would be to make contact with particular religious orders and to attend events such as “Come and See” and reflection days that they offer for discerners.
Some examples of communities of men religious are: The Order of St. Basil (Basilians), the Dominicans , the Jesuits, the Josephites, the Somascans, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), the Carmelites, the Franciscans… just to name a few.
Please check the link on this site for “Vocation Directors” for contact information for the various men’s religious communities within our Archdiocese.
VISION magazine contains a lot of information about religious orders throughout the country and for missionary orders. You may obtain a copy by contacting the Office of Vocations or check out their web site below.
Also, some other links which might be helpful to your discernment are: