Arkansas Catholic


Steps to religious life graphic

What kind of community am I called to?

Each community/congregation/order lives out their call in a unique way. In general there are four types of orders: apostolic, contemplative/cloistered, missionary and monastic. There are also new forms of religious life.

Apostolic: These communities are engaged in active ministries, such as parish work, health care, social work and service to poor. Examples: Daughters of Charity, Sisters of Mercy

Contemplative/Cloistered: Members focus on prayer, especially the Mass, Liturgy of the Hours and individual prayer. They live more in solitude but could have active, apostolic ministries. Example: Carmelites

Missionary: They focus on spreading the Gospel to other countries and areas where evangelization is needed. Example: Missionary Catechists of the Poor, Missionaries of Charity

Monastic: Monastic orders are a unique blend of apostolic and cloistered life. For monastics the main focus is prayer, but they also have active ministries. Community life has a high priority. Example: Benedictines.

New forms: These orders don’t fall into the same categories as traditional religious orders. Examples: Brothers and Sisters of Charity, diocesan hermits describes discernment down the paths of intellect (Thomistic), devotion (Augustinian/Benedictine), service (Franciscan/Vincentian) or asceticism (Ignatian). can help narrow down which order could be best for you.


How does my past life affect my discernment?

Historically, prospective sisters, priests and brothers graduated from high school and entered the religious life at 18 years old. Now many men and women go to college, work, date and begin a career before they discern their calling.

Some activities in the past don’t necessarily disqualify someone from entering the religious life but must be considered. If these situations apply to you, ask the vocations director of the order you are considering about their requirements.

• Previous serious dating relationship or divorce/annulment

• Career

• Debt and mortgage

• Misdemeanor conviction or arrest record

• A tattoo or piercing

• 40 years old or older

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