Consecrated Life: A permanent state of life recognized by the Church, entered freely in response to the call of Christ to perfection, and characterized by the making of public vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Religious Life: Priests, brothers or sisters in communities that embrace the spirituality, charism and teachings of the community’s founder call their way of life religious life. Members of these communities follow Jesus through taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Sister: Sisters belong to religious communities and are brides of Christ who are chosen by Him to love Him and serve His Church like His Mother Mary as virgins and spiritual mothers. They serve the Church according to the charisms of their community and their God-given talents and inclinations.
Brother: Brothers live in religious communities. They take vows and promise to use their talents to serve God wherever the community decides they are needed. Brothers are not ordained.
Nun: Nuns are sisters and brides of Christ who are called by Him to pray and serve the needs of the Church in a more hidden way. They live in cloistered communities and do not leave their convents for any outside apostolates.
Secular Institute: Single lay men and women, and also some priests, belong to secular institutes. They make a commitment to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Members do not necessarily live together as a community. Their goal is to be a transforming presence in society.
Consecrated Virgin: Single women, who are virgins, may be consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite as a sign of their total commitment to following Christ more closely in a spousal relationship, and are dedicated to the service of the Church.
Vows: Formal commitments made to God to follow Jesus in His poverty, chastity and obedience as members of religious communities. The vow of poverty means that members hold all things in common. The community takes care of each other’s needs through the providence of God and their charity. The vow of chastity means that the member gives up the goods of marriage and marital relations for the sake of God’s kingdom. The vow of obedience allows the member of the community to imitate and share in Jesus’ obedience to His Father in order to accomplish His will. (Diocesan priests promise to live in celibate chastity, obedience to their bishop and a simple life.)