i want to start a religious community but i dont know how to
i don’t know the technicalities, and I am sure JReducation and the two Ocarms here would provide you with great answers… Listen to the trio
But all I know is that starting a religious community isn’t as “easy” as establishing a corporate company. tons of prayers and discernment has to be made to be sure God wants the community to be established, to know whether the desire you’re feeling is truly from God… good intentions do not suffice, in my opinion. It will take years to start a religious community. It has to be unique i mean, what’s new with the community?] and each step APPROVED and/or PERMITTED by the local Bishop. To disregard the Bishop is to disregard the Church, and to disregard the Church is to disregard Christ… well again these are just my opinions, and I am waiting for JReducation and the two Ocarms for their response.
Just keep praying.
It isn’t like setting up a company behind the scenes, waiting for the day you become legal, then harvesting the recruits.
Normally a community would grow informally, then go through the varoious stages of ‘Association of the Faithful’, so that their vocation, charism and ministry could be discerned, before becoming a formal religious institute. The process would normally take years.
While I agree with the previous poster about the necessity of acting under the bishop’s authority, I would add that he is unlikely to want to give too much supervision in the early stages, as it could be seen as approval.
Normally a group of women would begin by living a common life of prayer together, and seek formal structures later as things progressed.
The relevant canons from the 1983 Code of Canon Law are:
Can. 576 It is for the competent authority of the Church to interpret the evangelical counsels, to direct their practice by laws, and by canonical approbation to establish the stable forms of living deriving from them, and also, for its part, to take care that the institutes grow and flourish according to the spirit of the founders and sound traditions.
Can. 579 Diocesan bishops, each in his own territory, can erect institutes of consecrated life by formal decree, provided that the Apostolic See has been consulted.
So, as the other respondents have already intimated, you would need to answer several questions to your satisfaction and that of the bishop, who in terms of canon law is the authority whose permission is required to erect a religious house at the diocesan level; and he in turn will have to satisfy CICLSAL, the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Put simply, the questions are:
Why? (What’s the purpose of the institute?).
Where? (Which diocese, which town, which building?).
What? (Enclosed life, apostolic endeavour, eremitical solitude?).
How? (What are the arrangements for meeting costs, managing demands made on the local population or clergy, recruitment of new members?).
In addition, you will need firm ideas on:
A spiritual foundation or charism
Procedures and regulations
Routines and timetables
- and many other things. These issues are complicated enough when a new house of an existing institute is being planned. Its much more so when its the first house of a new institute.
This is why, as has been stated, beginning as an association of the faithful is the typical (and much simpler) first step, with possible progression to a public association and later to a bone fide institute over time. But there is nothing inevitable about this, and the bishop may be disinclined to offer support for a number of reasons.
The canon law regarding private and public associations can be read at:
- and on succeeding pages. (Follow the links to the next section at the foot of each page).
This isn’t intended to discourage or dishearten, and I believe Brother JR has considerable experience of these processes, and would be able to tell you a lot more than the rest of us have so far. But even with my very limited knowledge of the issues involved, I think its worth saying, in the nicest possible way, that you have to learn to walk before you can run. The work of many years may be ahead of you. If you can find a few like-minded people, maybe you can grow together through prayer and discernment and determine God’s will for you.