[quote="Gardenman, post:4, topic:259157"]
I remember hearing of instances where some women religious just up and left their orders without going through any formal process when the "exodus" was happening. They were never heard from again and any inquiry made about them was sort of politely dismissed.
Obviously, the laity was never privvy to how they were "released" from their vows and obligations but the late 60's and 70's were disastrous for many orders and we lost a LOT of good religious, both male and female.
I was born after Vatican II, but yeah that's what I was wondering. If a sister or brother just up and left, would someone release them from their vows eventually, if they didn't request it themselves. But it seems from ByzCath answer that yes the institute releases them.
I also wondered because of a former monk who is a member of my parish. He took solemn vows (which I realize are different from simple vows) and he left his community sometime after that. He told me he can't be released from those vows, instead he has some kind of indult from the bishop. He's remaining faithful to the vows though he's not a member of the monastery anymore. But that is different than simple vows I realize.