How does one Found an Order?

I know I ask a lot of questions on here but I also asked this on Phatmass. Does anyone know how someone Founds their own Order? Do you already have to be in the Religious life or do you just create it and have it approved? Although I have my heart in an Order somewhat, I’m still deciding and I do have my own idea for an Order, but I’m not sure if it would actually work.

I’ll quote myself on this one, not because I’m an expert :frowning: but because the question has been asked before:

Hope that helps.

Can I just repeat that I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone, but there is a long path to walk between the idea and the reality of founding a religious institute.

At the risk of being pedantic, can I also point out that ‘religious institute’ is the correct generic term here. There are actually very few religious orders, although many people (including me, sometimes!) do use that term generically. ‘Institute’ can in this usage mean congregation, society, order etc.

Best wishes to you.

You will need to get the support of a bishop. But I am not so certain that The Church is permitting new orders per say at this time. It is possible to start new communities that are based on an existing common rule of order (e.g.Rule Of St. Benedict or Rule of St. Basil etc.).

Because The Church established Cannon Law to guarantee uniform religious rights to all its members in the conduct of its affairs it is also important that new communities and orders are conforming to Church Law. At some point a cannon law expert would or should be consulted. Worthy of remark here is saying that there is in fact a moral obligation for any individual who feels called to the consecrated life to enter into either a personal private consecrated life or into an existing recognized one. Again Canon Law has provisions for just this sort of thing ( e.g. consecrated virgins and consecrated widows/widowers regulated in canons 573-746).

You can read some more general info here: [Consecrated Life (WIki)](

Here is another CAF thread on it here: Founding Religious Order

It is possible to associate with an existing order or rule of order to get a community started. The thing that can be challenging is being able to raise income to be self sustaining as the sponsoring bishop’s diocese generally can not be financially responsible for new communities.

Good Luck

I would suggest you investigate the order you’re interested in more fully.

It is very difficult (almost pragmatically impossible) to found a new order today.

So many religious institutes are in trouble because they do not have enough vocations today. Much better to join an existing one than to try and create one yourself.

Most modern institutes were founded by the cooperation of a local bishop with someone already living in consecrated life for a good long time. Someone that understands the vows, and has demonstrated the ability to live and lead with them for a good long while.

Better to submit yourself to the formation of an existing order (read here: society, congregation, etc.) than to re-invent the wheel.

If God wants you to found a new order, He will call you forth from that order. Like He did with many of the great founders / foundresses.

God bless,

you need approvals from the local Bishop and the Pope and set of rules to live by. There is much more than that, but generally you will probably find the lifestyle is already modeled after another established order

I guess my curiosity about this is a part of my discernment process. Plus I’ve always wondered about it anyway but now that I’ve thought more seriously about Religious Life, I’m asking it. I’m still just thinking about my vocation but I’m keeping the options on the table

pray that your discernment will lead you to a vocation that God’s wills you to

First of all let me acknowledge my respect and esteem to you for having the courage to enter into a state of consecrated virginity and your vocation as a cannon lawyer. That is an extremely admirable public exemplar of Christ’s spiritual presence here on earth worthy of emulation and respect.

That said, let me say that I was not speaking as a legal jurist in my statement of a moral obligation to follow one’s calling. Rather I was speaking as an ordinary lay Catholic from the principals of reason and confirmed apostolic calling. When there is an imperfect discernment on one’s vocational calling then there is no obligation except to investigate as best as one can discern what their calling is. Is it your council that we are not required to follow the primal aboriginal Vicar of Christ – one’s own conscience (assuming well formed)? I might add here, who among us would be comfortable looking the other way and going back to “fishing” if one day we clearly heard the Lord proclaim: “Come follow me”.? :wink:

From The Catechism:
1778 Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law:

[indent]Conscience is a law of the mind; yet [Christians] would not grant that it is nothing more; I mean that it was not a dictate, nor conveyed the notion of responsibility, of duty, of a threat and a promise. . . . [Conscience] is a messenger of him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by his representatives. Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ.50 [John Henry Cardinal Newman, “Letter to the Duke of Norfolk,”]

915 Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. The perfection of charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience. It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God.454


I concur that if one is not optimal in their election of one good act (service/vocation) over another does not create a relative evil. Clearly honest incompetence in service does not deny the servant his recognition nor his crown ( :wink: ) - but with proper respect to the widow’s mite, a greater service to the greater good is demonstrative of a closer relational walk which has more utility to the Lord and may very well result in a greater crown ( e.g. parable of the Talents Matthew 25:14-30). I don’t think (and hope) that there are any court-jester crowns in heaven. Salvation itself is a magnificent crown all its own that is esteemed at all the 9 ranks of choir of angels. Yet, I still hold that we each do have a moral obligation to strive to be all that we are called to be in eternity. That said, only one was called to be Queen of Heaven, and only so many are called to be martyers and so many priests - but all saints.

Well stated - concur.

I could have used more precise terminology. I meant to convey more of the hermetical forms of devotion that were not as connected to the ecclesial hierarchy and/or to third order forms of religious life. I did not realize that consecrated virgins/widows in addition to being laid on hands by an apostolic bishop took what are considered to be public vows and are considered public examples of Christian virtue.

I was not making an attempt to be exhaustive but just addressing one of the immediate principal more mundane hurdles. I Concur and see that you have tremendous working experience in this area. I have seen some of the cultish behaviors and elitism form in some of the tertiary communities and when they are detached from the local diocese and associated with physically remote pontifical council oversight can drift from their norms.

At the bottom though it should go without saying that all Catholic faithful are called to be saints and to be evangelizing as living examples of Christian virtue in their communities (ecclesial and secular) . But for those who “wish to be perfect” and more perfectly follow Christ there are the three evangelical councils common to all consecrated religious: Chastity, Poverty (or perfect charity), and Obedience.


P.S. The Doctors of the Church are agreed that the young man who went away sad did not sin. He exercised his right to say no to selling all things in order to be “more” perfect. If he had the moral obligation to say yes, he would have sinned.

Thanks SS - that was quite an excellent exposition that clarifies some of the more subtle differences between the various forms of consecrated life!

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