Roman Catholic religious order

Roman Catholic religious order

Religious orders ('Religious Institutes', cf. canons 573-746) are the major form of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church. They are organisations of laity and/or clergy who live a common life following a religious rule under the leadership of a religious superior. Many of these are enclosed monastic orders, others are not.

They do so for the purpose of imitating Jesus more closely, mainly but not exclusively by observing evangelical chastity, poverty and obedience, which are the three evangelical counsels of perfection (cf. canons 599-601). They bind themselves to this form of Christian living by taking public vows in accordance with the norms of church law. They may additionally profess to obey certain guidelines for living, since each order has its peculiar charism. Religious vows are to be distinguished from Holy Orders, the sacrament which bishops, priests, and deacons receive. Hence members of religious orders are not part of the hierarchy, unless they are also ordained priests or deacons (sometimes referred to as "priest-monks").

Religious rules

Religious orders follow one of the religious rules. For example, the majority of the religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church observe the Rule of St Benedict that is a collection of precepts for what is called contemplative religious life, others follow the Rule of St Augustine that stresses self-denial, moderation, and care for those in need, whereas the Rule of St Basil, one of the earliest rules for Christian religious living, tends to be followed by religious orders of the Orthodox Church. In addition, the individual Orders have their own regulations for the practical living out of their chosen Rule so as to be able to serve their own Order's charism more fully.

Authority structure

A Religious Order is characterized by an authority structure where a superior general has jurisdiction over the order's dependent communities. An exception is the Order of St Benedict which is not a religious order in this technical sense, because it has a system of "independent houses", meaning that each abbey is autonomous.

There are two principal types of Catholic religious orders. Members of "congregations" (such as the Congregation of Holy Cross) take "simple vows", while members of "orders proper" (such as the Society of Jesus) take solemn vows. The term congregation sometimes also applies to branches of an order which historically united several ones or was extended with one or more branches of a different kind, such as for women in addition to the pre-existing one for men, or tertiaries. Additionally, a number of generic terms, which are not always exclusively defined, exist to define groups of orders and congregations, such as mendicant orders or canons regular. As well particular or familiar names exist for religious such as Brother and Sister, whereas older terms including Monk and Nun are now more infrequently used. Technically Nuns are religious women who profess solemn vows rather than simple vows.


The roots in Egypt and the Syriac and Greek speaking East

From the earliest times there were probably individual hermits who lived a life in isolation in imitation of Jesus' 40 days in the desert. They have left no confirmed archaeological traces and only hints in the written record. Communities of virgins who had consecrated themselves to Christ are found at least as far back as the 2nd century. There were also individual ascetics, known as the "devout", who usually lived not in the deserts but on the edge of inhabited places, still remaining in the world but practicing asceticism and striving for union with God, although extreme ascetism such as encratism was regarded as suspect by the Church (cf. 1 Tim 4:1-5).

Paul of Thebes (fl. 3rd cent.), commemorated in the writings of St Jerome, is regarded as the first Christian hermit in Egypt, his withdrawal into the desert apparently having been prompted by the persecution of the Christians at the time. Saint Anthony was the first to leave the world specifically in order to live in the desert as a monk; St Athanasius speaks of him as an anchorite. In upper Egypt, sometime around 323 AD, Saint Pachomius decided to organize his disciples into a form of community in which they lived in individual huts or rooms ("cellula" in Latin), but worked, ate, and worshipped in shared space. Guidelines for daily life were drawn up (a monastic 'rule'); and several monasteries were founded, nine for men and two for women. This method of monastic organization is called cenobitic or "community-based". Towards the end of his life St Pachomius was therefore not only the abbot of a monastery but also the head of an entire order of monasteries.

The Greeks (e.g. St Basil the Great of Cappadocian Caesarea) and the Syriac-speaking east have their own monastic traditions (e.g. St Ephrem of Nisibis and Edessa).


The earliest forms of monasticism in Western Europe involved figures such as Martin of Tours, who after serving in the Roman legions converted to Christianity and established a hermitage near Milan. He then moved on to Poitiers where he gathered a community around his hermitage. In 372 he was called to become Bishop of Tours, where he established a monastery at Marmoutiers on the opposite bank of the Loire River. His monastery was laid out as a colony of hermits rather than as a single integrated community.

John Cassian began his monastic career at a monastery in Palestine and Egypt around 385 to study monastic practice there. In Egypt he had been attracted to the isolated life of hermits, which he considered the highest form of monasticism, yet the monasteries he founded were all organized monastic communities. About 410 he established two monasteries near Marseilles, one for men, one for women. In time these attracted a total of 5,000 monks and nuns.Most significant for the future development of monasticism were Cassian's "Institutes", which provided a guide for monastic life and his "Conferences", a collection of spiritual reflections.

Honoratus of Marseilles was a wealthy Gallo-Roman aristocrat, who after a pilgrimage to Egypt, founded the Monastery of Lérins, on an island lying off the modern city of Cannes. Lérins became, in time, a center of monastic culture and learning, and many later monks and bishops would pass through Lérins in the early stages of their career.


The anonymous Rule of the Master ("Regula magistri"), was written somewhere south of Rome around 500. The rule adds administrative elements not found in earlier rules, defining the activities of the monastery, its officers, and their responsibilities in great detail.

Benedict of Nursia was the most influential early Western monk. He was educated in Rome but soon sought the life of a hermit in a cave at Subiaco, outside the city. He then attracted followers with whom he founded the monastery of Monte Cassino around 520, between Rome and Naples. His Rule is shorter than the Master's, and somewhat less legalistic. By the ninth century, largely under the inspiration of the Emperor Charlemagne, Benedict's Rule became the basic guide for Western monasticism.


The earliest Monastic settlements in Ireland emerged at the end of the fifth century. The first identifiable founder of a monastery was Saint Brigit, a saint who ranked with Saint Patrick as a major figure of the Irish church. The monastery at Kildare was a double monastery, with both men and women ruled by the Abbess, a pattern found in many other monastic foundations.

Commonly Irish monasteries were established by grants of land to an abbot or abbess, who came from a local noble family. The monastery became the spiritual focus of the tribe or kin group. Irish monastic rules specify a stern life of prayer and discipline in which prayer, poverty, and obedience are the central themes. However Irish monks read Latin texts, both spiritual and secular, with an enthusiasm that their contemporaries on the continent lacked. By the end of the seventh century, Irish monastic schools were attracting students from England and from Europe.

Irish monasticism spread widely, first to Scotland and Northern England, then to Gaul and Italy. Columba and his followers established monasteries at Bangor, on the northeastern coast of Ireland, at Iona in Scotland, and at Lindisfarne, in Northumbria. Columbanus, an abbot from a Leinster noble family, traveled to Gaul in the late 6th century with twelve companions. Columbanus and his followers spread the Irish model of monastic institutions established by noble families to the continent. A whole series of new rural monastic foundations on great rural estates under Irish influence sprang up, starting with Columbanus's foundations of Fontaines and Luxeuil, sponsored by the Frankish King Childebert II. After Childebert's death Columbanus traveled east to Metz, where Theudebert II allowed him to establish a new monastery among the semi-pagan Alemanni in what is now Switzerland. One of Columbanus's followers founded the monastery of St. Gall on the shores of Lake Constance, while Columbanus continued onward across the Alps to the kingdom of the Lombards in Italy. There King Agilulf and his wife Theodolinda granted Columbanus land in the mountains between Genoa and Milan, where he established the monastery of Bobbio.

List of Roman Catholic religious institutes

The following list refers to some of the major religious institutes of the Catholic Church, both orders and others; it should be understood that communities using the same name may exist in Anglican or Eastern Orthodox traditions as well, as well as more than one Catholic order with the same name. Each is accompanied by its official name in English as well as the acronym (or "post-nominal initials") commonly used to identify its members. In many cases name variations and/or alternative names are also in use. In parentheses is the year it was established.

#Adorers (Adorers of the Blood of Christ) - A.S.C. (1834)
#Adornos (Clerics Regular Minor) - C.R.M. (1563)
#Adrian Dominican Sisters (1233/1853)
#Albertines (1888)
#Alexians - C.F.A. (1469)
#Angelic Sisters of St. Paul - A.S.S.P. (1535)
#Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - A.S.C.J. (1894)
#Assumptionists - A.A. (1845)
#Little Sisters of the Assumption (1865)
#Religious of the Assumption (1839)
#Atonement, Society of the (Atonement Friars/Graymoor Friars/Sisters) - S.A. (1909)
#Augustinian Recollects - (Order of the Augustinians Recollects) - O.A.R. (1912)
#Augustinian Sisters, Servants of Jesus and Mary - A.S.J.M. (1827)
#Augustinians (Order of Saint Augustine) - O.S.A. (1256)
#Augustinians of Kansas: Society of Saint Augustine - S.S.A. (1981)
#Baladites (Order of Lebanese Maronite) - O.L.M. (1694)
#Barnabites (Clerics Regular of Saint Paul) - B., C.R.S.P. (1530)
#Benedictines (Rule of St. Benedict) - R.S.B. (529)
#Benedictine Oblates of St Scholastica
#Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (1874)
#Bernardine Cistercian Sisters of Esquiermes
#Bernardines (also see Cistercians) (1098)
#Bon Secours Sisters - C.B.S. (1824)
#Brigidine Sisters (1807)
#Bridgettines (Order of Our Savior) - O.Ss.S. (1350)
#Brotherhood of Hope - B.H. (1980)
#Brothers Hospitallers of St. John of God (Order of Hospitallers) - O.H. (1572)
#Brothers of Christian Instruction of St Gabriel - F.S.G. (1711)
#Brothers of Mercy of Our Lady of Perpetual Help - f.m.m. (1839)
#Brothers of the Christian Schools (Lasallian Brothers or Christian Brothers) - F.S.C. (1680)
#Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis of Assisi (Brothers CFP located in the United States, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Brazil, Regular Third Order) (1861)
# Brothers of the Sacred Heart - S.C. (1821)
#Camaldolese (Camaldolese Benedictines) - O.S.B. Cam. (1200s)
#Camaldolese Hermits of the Congregation of Monte Corona - Er.Cam.
#Camillians (Order of Saint Camillus) - O.S.Cam. (~1680)
#Canonesses of St. Augustine - C.R.O.S.A.
#Canons Regular of Saint John Cantius - S.J.C. (2006)
#Canons Regular of the Holy Cross OSC (1311)
#Canons Regular Canons Regular of St. Augustine CRSA (1100)
#Canons Regular of the Immaculate Conception (1871)
#Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem - C.R.N.J. (2002)
#Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross (Crosiers) (1210)
#Canossians (Canossian Daughters and Sons of Charity) - F.D.D.C. (1808)
#Capuchins (Order of Friars Minor Capuchin) - O.F.M. Cap. (1520)
#Capuchin Poor Clares (1538)
#Carmelites (Order of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) - O.Carm., O.C.D., O.C.D.S. (1209)
#Carmelites of Mary Immaculate - C.M.I. (1831)
#Carmelite Daughters of the Divine Heart of Jesus - D.C.J. (1891)
#Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm (1929)
#Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles (1904)
#Carthusians - O.Cart. (1084)
#Celestines (defunct) (1244)
#Christian Brothers of Ireland - C.F.C. (1802)
#Cistercians (Cistercians of the Ancient Observance)- O.Cist./S.O.Cist (1098)
#Claretians (Claretian Missionaries) - C.M.F. (1849)
#Claretian Sisters (1876)
#Community of Betania
#Companions of the Cross - C.C. (1988)
#Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae - C.I.C.M. (1862)
#Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament - S.S.S. (1659)
#Congregation of the Disciples of the Lord - C.D.D. (1931)
#Congregation of Divine Providence - C.D.P. (1827)
#Congregation of Holy Cross - C.S.C. (1837)
#Congregation of Maronite Lebanese Missionaries - M.L. [] (1865)
#Congregation of the Mission - C.M. (1624)
#Congregation of the Mother Co-Redemptrix - C.M.C. (1909)
#Congregation of Notre Dame - C.N.D. (1653)
#Congregation of Our Lady of the Missions (1861)
#Congregation of the Sisters of the Resurrection (1891)
#Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary - SS.CC. (1800)
#Congregation of St. Basil - C.S.B. (1822)
#Congregation of St. Joseph - C.S.J. (1873)
#Congregation of St. Therese of Lisieux, Cstbrothers, Kerala, India (1931)
#Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (Divine Mercy Sisters) (1862)
#Conventual Franciscans ("Conventuals" or Order of Friars Minor Conventual) - O.F.M. Conv. (1209)
#Daughters of Charity - D.C. (1633)
#Daughters of Divine Charity - F.D.C. (1868)
#Daughters of Divine Love (1969)
#Daughters of the Holy Spirit - D.H.S. (1706)
#Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception (1904)
#Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion - D.O.L.C (1892)
#Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi - Lacon, Illinois (1894)
#Daughters of St. Paul - F.S.P. (1915)
#Daughters of Wisdom (1707)
#Dehonians (Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus) - S.C.J. (1878)
#Discalced Augustinians - O.A.D. (1592)
#Discalced Carmelites - O.C.D. (1593)
#Disciples of the Lord - C.D.D. (1931)
#Divine Word Missionaries - S.V.D. (1875)
#Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary (1880)
#Dominicans (Order of Friars Preachers) - O.P. (1216)
#Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne (1900)
#Dominican Sisters of the Immaculate Conception - O.P. (1861)
#Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia - O.P. (1860)
#Dottrinari (Congregazione dei Preti della Dottrina Cristiana) - D.C. (1592)
#Eudists (Congregation of Jesus and Mary) - C.I.M. (1643)
#English Benedictine Congregation - O.S.B. (1216)
#Fathers of Mercy - (Congregatio Presbyterorum a Misericordia) - C.P.M. (1808)
#Felician Sisters (Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice) - C.S.S.F. (1855)
#Franciscan Apostolic Sisters - F.A.S. (1954)
#Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn - O.S.F. (1858)
#Franciscan Brothers of the Eucharist - F.B.E. (2004)
#Franciscan Brothers of Peace - F.B.P. (1982)
#Franciscan Friars (Order of Friars Minor) - O.F.M. (1209)
#Franciscan Friars of the Renewal - C.F.R. (1987)
#Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular - T.O.R. (1447)
#Franciscan Handmaids of Mary (1915)
#Franciscan Hospitaller Sisters of the Immaculate Conception - F.H.I.C. (1876)
#Franciscan Minims of the Perpetual Help of Mary - f.m. (1942)
#Franciscans of the Immaculate - F.I.
#Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood - F.M.D.M. (1887)
#Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word - M.F.V.A. (1987)
#Franciscan Missionaries of Mary - F.M.M. (1877)
#Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (1859)
#Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Infant Jesus (1879)
#Franciscan Servants of Jesus (1997)
#Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity - O.S.F. (1869)
#Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist - F.S.E. (1973)
#Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception - F.S.I.C.
#Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate (1893)
#Franciscan Sisters of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother - T.O.R. (1988)
#Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration - O.S.F. (1849)
#Fransalians (Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales) - M.S.F.S. (1838)
#Good Shepherd Sisters - R.G.S. (1641)
#Grey Nuns - G.N.S.H. (1738)
#Handmaids of the Blessed Sacrament and of Charity - A.A.S.C. (1950)
#Handmaids of the Precious Blood - H.P.B. (1947)
#Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - A.A.S.C. (1877)
#Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (1978)
#Hermits of Saint Bruno - H.S.B.
#Holy Cross Fathers (Congregation of Holy Cross) - C.S.C. (1837)
#Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters (Pink Sisters) - S.Sp.S.A.P. (1896)
#Hospital Sisters of the Mercy of Jesus (1200s)
#Infant Jesus Sisters (Nicolas Barre) - I.J. (1666)
#Institut du Clergé Patriarcal de Bzommar - I.C.P.B. (1749)
#Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest - I.C.R.S.S. (1990)
#Institute of the Incarnate Word - I.V.E. (1984)
#Jesuits (Society of Jesus) - S.J. (1540)
#Josephite Fathers (St. Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart) - S.S.J. (1893)
#Legion of Christ - L.C. (founded 1941, approved 1983)
#Little Brothers of the Gospel - (1956)
#Little Brothers of Jesus - (1933)
#Little Brothers of St Francis - (1970) (l.b.s.f)
#Little Flower Congregation (CST Fathers) (1931)
#Little Sisters of the Assumption (1865)
#Little Sisters of the Gospel - (1963)
#Little Sisters of Jesus - (1933)
#Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary (1974)
#Little Sisters of the Poor - L.S.P. (ca. 1700s)
#Lovers of the Holy Cross (1670)
#Loreto Sisters (Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary) - I.B.V.M. (1609)
#Marian Fathers - M.I.C. (1673)
#Marian Sisters (Marian Sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln) - M.S. (1952)
#Marianists (Society of Mary) - S.M. (1817)
#Marianist Sisters (Daughters of Mary Immaculate) - F.M.I. (1817)
#Marianites of Holy Cross - M.S.C. (1841)
#Marist Brothers - F.M.S. (1817)
#Marists (Society of Mary) - S. M.(1816)
#Maryknoll (Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America) - M.M. (1911)
#Mercedarians (Order of Our Lady of Mercy) - O. de M. (1218)
#Miles Christi - M.C. (1984)
#Mission Helpers of The Sacred Heart - M.H.S.H. (1890)
#Missionaries of Charity - M.C. (1950)
#Missionaries of La Salette - M.S. (1852)
#Missionaries of Mary - (2007)
#Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo) - C.S. (1887)
#Missionaries of the Gospel of Life (2005)
#Missionaries of the Poor - M.O.P. (1981)
#Missionaries of the Precious Blood (Precious Blood Fathers) - C.PP.S. (1815)
#Missionaries of the Sacred Heart - M.S.C. (1854)
#Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (1836)
#Missionary Congregation for the Blessed Sacrament
#Missionary Society of St. Columban Columbans - S.S.C. (1916)
#Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem (1975)
#Montfort Missionaries (Company of Mary) - S.M.M. (1705)
#Norbertines or Premonstratensians (Canons Regular of Prémontré) - C.R.P., O.Praem. (1120)
#Oblate Apostles of the Two Hearts - O.A.T.H. (1995)
#Oblate Sisters of Providence - O.S.P. (1829)
#Oblates Of Mary Immaculate - O.M.I. (1816)
#Oblates of St. Joseph - O.S.J. (1878)
#Oblates Of The Virgin Mary - O.M.V. (1827)
#Olivetans (Order of Our Lady of Mount Olivet) (1313)
#Oratorians (Oratory of St. Philip Neri) - C.O., Cong. Orat. (1500s)
#Order of the Imitation of Christ - O.I.C. (1930)
#Order of St. Elisabeth O.S.E. (1622)
#Pallottines (Society of the Catholic Apostolate) - S.A.C. (1835)
#Paris Foreign Missions Society (Missions Etrangères de Paris) - M.E.P. (1658)
#Passionists (Congregation of the Passion) - C.P. (1720)
#Passionist Sisters (1850s)
#Patrician Brothers - F.S.P. (1808)
#Pauline Fathers (Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit) - O.S.P.P.E. (1250)
#Paulist Fathers (Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle) - C.S.P. (1858)
#Piarists (Clerics Regulars Poors of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools) - Sch.P. (1617)
#Pious Disciples of the Divine Master - P.D.D.M. (1924)
#Pontifical Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of the Reparation of the Holy Face (1950)
#Poor Clares (Nuns of the Order of St. Clare/(Order of Poor Ladies) - O.S.C. (1212)
#Poor Clare Nuns - Joliet, Ill.
#Poor Clares of Santa Barbara - Santa Barbara, Calif.
#Poor Clare Nuns of Perpetual Adoration (1854)
#Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - P.B.V.M. (1775)
#Presentation Brothers - F.P.M. (1802)
#Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter - F.S.S.P. (1988)
# Putra Puteri Carmel
#Racine Dominican Sisters (1862)
#Redemptorists (Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) - C.Ss.R. (1732)
#Les Religieuses de Notre-Dame-du-Sacre-Coeur (Dieppe, New Brunswick) ()
#Religious of the Assumption - R.A. (1839)
#Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary - R.S.H.M. (1849)
#Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan - R.S.M.
#Resurrectionists - C.R. (1836)
#Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus - R.C.J. (1897)
#Rosminians (Institute of Charity) - I.C. (1828)
#Salesians of St. John Bosco - S.D.B. (1857)
#Salesian Sisters (Daughters of Mary Help of Christian) - F.M.A. (1872)
#Salvatorians (Society of the Divine Savior) - S.D.S. (1881)
#Salvatorians (Basilian Salvatorian Order - A Melkite Community) - bso (1724) (Always Lower-Cased)
#School Sisters of Christ the King (1976)
#School Sisters of Notre Dame - S.S.N.D. (1833)
#School Sisters of the Third Order of St Francis (1873)
#Servites (Order of Friars, Servants of Mary) - O.S.M. (1233)
#Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters (1847)
#Sister Adorers of the Precious Blood - R.P.G. (1861)
#Sisters Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus Christ Sovereign Priest (2004)
#Sisters of Adoration, Slaves of the Blessed Sacrament and of Charity (1850)
#Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel (1870)
#Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (1891)
#Sisters of the Cenacle - r.c. (1826)
#Sisters of Charity - S.C. (1633)
#Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati (1829)
#Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth (1858)
#Sisters of Charity of New York (1846)
#Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary - B.V.M. (1831)
#Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception (St. John, New Brunswick, Canada) (1854)
#Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (1866)
#Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary (1803)
#Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy (South Carolina) (1829)
#Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth (1859)
#Sisters of Charity Federation in the Vincentian-Setonian Tradition
#Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul - Halifax (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) (1849)
#Vincentian Sisters of Charity (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) (1902)
#Sisters of the Divine Compassion (1886)
#Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill (Pennsylvania) (1870)
#Sisters of the Holy Cross - C.S.C. (1837)
#Sisters of the Holy Family (1837)
#Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (1875)
#Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary - S.N.J.M. (1844)
#Sisters of Jesus, Our Hope
#Sisters of Life - S.V. (1991)
#Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist - O.P. (1997)
#Sisters of Mercy - R.S.M. (1831)
#Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur - S.N.D., S.N.D. de N. (1803)
#Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy (1862)
#Sisters of La Retraite
#Sisters of Saint Agnes (1858)
#Sisters of Saint Elizabeth (1842)
#Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi (1849)
#Sisters of St Francis of the Martyr St George - F.S.G.M. (1869)
#Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity (1835)
#Sisters of Saint Francis of Rochester, Minnesota (1877)
#Sisters of St Joseph (AKA Sisters of Saint Joseph of Medaille) - C.S.J. (1650)
#Sisters of Saint Joseph of Bourg or S.S.J. (1650)
#Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambéry (1812)
#Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace (1884)
#Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart - S.S.J. (1866)
#Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis (1901)
#Sisters of Saint Martha (Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada) (1900)
#Sisters of St Rita (1911)
#Sisters of St Therese of the Child Jesus (St Therese Sisters - Tanzania) - S.S.Th.
#Sisters of the Visitation - Sisters of the Visitation, Toledo, Ohio (1610)
#Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary – I.H.M. (1845)
#Sisters, Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará - S.S.V.M. (1988)
#Sisters, Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (Cresson, PA; Poland; Vatican City) - S.S.C.J. (1894)
#Society of African Missions (Societas Missionum ad Afros) - S.M.A. (1850)
#Society of the Helpers of the Holy Souls (1856)
#Society of the Holy Child Jesus - S.H.C.J. (1846)
#Society of Jesus - S.J.or S.I. (1534)
#Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity - S.O.L.T. (1958)
#Society of St. Edmund S.S.E. (1843)
#Society of Saint Paul - S.S.P. (1914)
#Society of the Sacred Heart - R.S.C.J. (1800)
#Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (Order of Malta) - S.M.O.M. (1099)
#Spiritans "or" Holy Ghost Fathers (Congregation of the Holy Ghost) - C.S.Sp. (1703)
#Stigmatines (Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata) - C.S.S. (1816)
#Sulpician Fathers (Society of Saint Sulpice) - S.S., P.S.S. (1642)
#Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis - Cameroon (1700)
#Teutonic Order (1190)
#Theatines (Congregation of Clerics Regular) - C.R. (1524)
#Theatines Nuns (Congregation of Theatines of Immaculate Conception) - T.I.C. (1633)
#Trappists (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance) - O.C.R., O.C.S.O. (1662)
#Trinitarians (Order of the Most Holy Trinity) - O.SS.T. (1194)
#Ursulines (Ursuline Nuns of the Roman Union) - O.S.U. (1535)
#Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity - M.V.D.F. (1963)
#Viatorians (Clerics of Saint Viator) - C.S.V. (1831)
#Heralds of the Gospel (Virgo Flos Carmeli) - E.P. (February 22, 2001)
#Vincentian Congregation (VC) (1904)
#Visitation Nuns - Sisters of the Visitation, Toledo, Ohio (1610)
#(Visitation Nuns - Second Federation of the Visitation Order) (1610)
#Vocationists (The Society of Divine Vocations) - S.D.V. (1927)
#White Fathers - M.Afr. (1868)
#Xaverian Brothers - C.F.X. (1839)
#Xaverian Missionaries (Missionary Society of St. Francis Xavier) - S.X. (1895)

ources, references and external links

* [ Concerning 'Religious Institutes' in "The Code of Canon Law 1983"]
* [ The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life]
* [ Chart showing the place of members of Religious Institutes among the People of God]
* [ Comprehensive directory of men's and women's religious communities in the U.S. and Canada with links and vocation opportunities]
* [ Institute on Religious Life] - links to many Catholic religious communities
* [ Directory of Catholic Religious Orders on the Internet (men and women)]
* [ Open Directory links to Catholic orders' websites]
* [ Vocation Match] - match service to assist men and women to find a Catholic religious community
* [ Vocation Guide] - vocation-related articles and directory of men's and women's Catholic religious communities
* [ Vocations Online] - directory of men's and women's Catholic religious communities in the USA
* [ Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious] - religious congregations of women
* [ Leadership Conference of Women Religious] - religious congregations of women
* [ The Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis of Assisi, CFP located in the United States, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Brazil, Regular Third Order] , official website
* [ Franciscans of the Immaculate] - official website of the F.I.
* [ Website of the Immaculate] - Website of the Franciscans of the Immaculate
* [ The Canons Regular of St. Augustine]
* [ Catholic Orders Abbreviations]
* [ Differences Between Religious Orders] A comparison of the differences between religious orders

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