Founding a Secular Institute?


In 1947, Pius XII approved the creation of Secular Institutes. Those lay Catholics who join these organizations become Lay Consecrated. Most of these institutes have a specific apostolate, but the majority seem to be composed of women. Is it possible to create a Secular Institute for men and women, or just for men? How does one go about it? Is there a relevant section in Canon Law with specifics and instructions? I suppose canonical creation requires the approval of the local bishop, but how does one actually begin?

I am particularly interested in the Dominicans, for example. All the Secular Institutes of the O.P. are French, however, and I am an English-speaker. I desire to have a strong association of lay faithful in a Secular Institute dedicated to the intellectual apostolate of the Order of Preachers: preaching the truth, convincing this world of its errors, and bringing skeptical & atheistic & agnostic souls to Christ through science and academics. How does this begin? Who does what?

Thank you.

I would join the lay Dominicans first, and let that membership evolve into a secular institute.

If you email the Institute on Religious Life, they can send you the guidelines which include that which is needed for a secular institute.

SI can include priests or laity. One of our Fullerton Society members had his original idea of Carmelite Canons evolve into a men’s secular institute of the Annonciades, a cloistered women’s institute in France, who are Franciscan.

One of our CONF charisms, the Holy Innocents Family, is based on Dominicanism, and the foundress wants to create a secular institute. She considers herself a lay hermit, and that was one of the original purposes of SI. Then she will oversee the establishment of an actual convent of their sisters–when the vocations come.

You’re welcome to discuss this with us.


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Thank you, Cloisters. I do not know how to join the lay Dominicans, since the closest chapter of brothers is more than 200 miles away. It’s probably not possible to join “at a distance”!

Very interesting story of evolution from the CONF family. :slight_smile: I would love to discuss it more, since it is the newest form of consecrated life in the Church. It must be made more widely known for the edification of the faithful.

I’m not sure of your location, but the order is to take care of isolates, as they’re called. Each province is to have a liaison of some sort. If all else fails, contact me again. I have a group specifically for isolate lay Dominicans, but it’s something of a last resort. I started it to help a home-bound lay Dominican whom I’ve known for years.

If you wished to join Dr Gianna’s Assistants for Life (DGAL), that is the group – Dominican-based – that is the lay association. Some DGAL members will form the secular institute.

New communities begin as their own lay associates.

If you can find a copy of Adrienne von Speyr’s “Our Task” it describes how she and Fr. Hans developed the Community of St. John, a secular institute.

All of our CONF charisms will have the possibility of secular institutes. It seems to be the trend – core religious, both active and contemplative; lay associates; secular institute.


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Hello Basilian,

I wish you the best in your projects. :slight_smile:


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