Associates of Religious Congregations

So, although tonight is not the best time for me to write at length (I’m a professor and our classes start tomorrow!), I am happy to get involved in a general discussion of what Associates are. Keep in mind that how the relationship between Vowed members and Associates plays out varies widely from community to community–and even, sometimes, within provinces or separate branches of the same congregation (for example, Sisters of St. Joseph, IHMs, etc.). So this can be as diverse as the differences among religious communities for vowed members!

In most cases, the commitment is not exactly the same as it is for Lay Secular members of the Orders, or for Oblates. While some communities do allow life commitment for Associates, no community requires it, and some don’t have permanent commitment at all. Almost all, if not all, communities that have them welcome married women as Associates. Some also have men as associates (including priests and deacons!). A few even welcome non-Catholic persons to become Associates (but there are some non-Catholic Oblates–for example, the prominent author Kathleen Norris).

So that is all I’ll say for now. As you may guess, I am an Associate myself, and have been for almost 15 years; right now, I am a member of the Associates Council with my Congregation. For now, I’ll just post the website for NACAR (North American Conference of Associates and Religious). There are many resources there:

If anyone has specific questions, please feel free to ask, and I’ll try to answer.

I guess I wrote more than I planned to!

1 Like

Thank you for answering my concern even though you were under a real time constraint that evening (classes starting, etc.)
I have further investigated (on the net) regrading oblates. I even spoke briefly in the confessional with a Redemptionist/Redemptorist (?) priest (there was no one behind me for confession). He thought the Benedictines were better for me than the Dominicans, although I did not ask how he came to the conclusion.
I do not think the Jesuits would either have a place for me or I would be a good “fit” so I am still vacillating between Dominicans and Benedictines. I love both “Rules” for living. In truth, I lean more toward the academic way, or study discipline, of the Dominicans but I also love the spirit of love and work of the Benedictines. I am just in a terrible quandary because this is so very important to me.
If you have anything that will enlighten me, I would very much welcome your input.
Thank you very much.

I think you are going about this in the right way. DO keep in mind that many Benedictine monasteries (women’s and men’s) conduct colleges and universities, so there are plenty of opportunities to pursue intellectual activities as part of that Order. You might also want to look into the American Benedictine Academy. Its membership is open to all interested parties, so you might want to at least look at their website as you continue your discernment. It is very scholarly. Here is its website:

I am grateful for your reply. I will definitely check out the website you listed. Your help is deeply appreciated.

In a message dated 9/3/2019 6:39:06 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

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