How can the member of a third order become a hermit?

Its my understanding that to be a canonical hermit a person draws up a personal Rule, goes over it with their bishop, and being under the bishops guidance and authority begins a novitiate, moving forward from there. The person is, in effect, their own religious order. But a member of one religious order can’t be a member of another order at the same time. So it would seem that a third order member wouldn’t be able to be a canonical hermit. In such an instance would the Church allow the third order member to simply receive permission to be a hermit from their superior in the third order? :confused:

If a person is presently a member of a secular third order ( such as a “lay” Domincan or Carmelite, or Benedictine oblate) they would first request from their lay community to be released from their private promises/private vows in order to take on public vows as a Diocesan hermit from the Bishop representing the Church.

Thank you, your answer makes sense to me. I am, regrettably, adept at confusing myself. Thank you for putting the question, and the confusion, to rest. :slight_smile:

You really need to check with the Vocation Director in your area to see what the Bishop of your diocese thinks about this. It’s not easy to become a canonical hermit. It is much more involved than most people think.

Not all bishops are enthusiastic about having canonical hermits in their diocese, many are wary, and a few are downright antagonistic.

It is also a very long process, even if your Bishop is supportive. From what I’ve heard from others who have tried it, most bishops will not even talk to you about it unless you’ve lived a hermit-like life for a few years and then it takes 3 - 5+ years on top of that.

It’s also as hard, or harder, than entering an established Religious Order. You have the normal regulations for religious life (never married, debt free, etc) plus you will have to write a rule for yourself, find someone to give control of your money/possessions to, find a way to support yourself without an outside occupation, etc.

If you can find a copy of the book The Vocation to the Eremitic Life, by Sr. Marlene Weisenbeck it would be a big help to you. I think you can only get it by contacting Sr Marlene. She is with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, WI. You can probably email her through their website.

You might also try contacting Sister Laurel O’Neal at Stillsong Hermitage. She is a canon 603 hermit and would know alot about the process, since she’s done it.

Check with both the third order and the diocesan bishop. Also, the more you know about the process, the better.


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