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:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=7299511#post7299511

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)](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consecrated_life_(Catholic_Church)

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

[quote="AllyC1991, post:6, topic:234256"]
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

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

[quote="CentralFLJames, post:3, topic:234256"]

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).

**Let me address this point by point as both a canon lawyer and a consecrated virgin.

First, there is no 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. There is a difference between counsel and precept and even if it is harder for an individual to reach heaven if he has not chosen the vocation that God designed him to fit in, God has given man free will and the ability to choose between goods (marriage, for instance is a good, and a person can lawfully choose it rather than consecrated life).

Second, there is no such thing as "private consecrated life". Either a person is in the consecrated state or is in the lay state. If the person is in the consecrated state, such a person is a public figure in the Church. Those who are publicly in the consecrated state in the Roman Catholic Church are: Religious men/women, diocesan male and female hermits (canon 603), and consecrated virgins (canon 604). Those who are publicly consecrated in the Eastern Catholic Churches are: Religious men/women, diocesan male and female hermits, consecrated virgins, and consecrated widows/widowers. Anyone not in the above categories are lay (or ordained) members of the faithful.

Privately dedicated individuals are lay people (vowed or "consecrated" secular institute members, widows/widowers who have not received the consecration in the Eastern Catholic Church but are privately vowed, and other people in private vows). Here, again, no one is forced to make a vow of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, but it is certainly a good idea if one is called to do so.

Lastly, founders/foundresses of religious institutes (congregations, not Orders) come from all walks of life. They can be lay, privately dedicated, priests, religious, hermits (think St. Benedict), widows, etc. I will also say that consecrated virgins, hermits, and consecrated widows/widowers are already in a definitive vocation- that vocation is not merely a stepping stone to religious life. Such individual forms of consecrated life predated religious life and are on a equal level to religious vocations insofar as being public vocations in the Church of the consecrated state.**

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.

True. But far more than simply finances are challenging. Most budding communities fold for dozens of reasons. Personality conflicts, mismanagement, inability to recruit new members, inability to organize, age of the members, demographics of the area, a fundamental misunderstanding of theology, abuse of members, cultish behaviors, etc., are a small sliver of factors that go into what can be particularly challenging for new groups.

Good Luck

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[quote="SerraSemper, post:8, topic:234256"]

First, there is no 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.

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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".? ;)

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

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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 ( ;) ) - 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.

[quote="SerraSemper, post:8, topic:234256"]

There is a difference between counsel and precept ...

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Well stated - concur.

[quote="SerraSemper, post:8, topic:234256"]

Second, there is no such thing as "private consecrated life". Either a person is in the consecrated state or is in the lay state. If the person is in the consecrated state, such a person is a public figure in the Church. Those who are publicly in the consecrated state in the Roman Catholic Church are: Religious men/women, diocesan male and female hermits (canon 603), and consecrated virgins (canon 604). Those who are publicly consecrated in the Eastern Catholic Churches are: Religious men/women, diocesan male and female hermits, consecrated virgins, and consecrated widows/widowers. Anyone not in the above categories are lay (or ordained) members of the faithful.

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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.

[quote="SerraSemper, post:8, topic:234256"]

True. But far more than simply finances are challenging...

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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.

Pax

[quote="CentralFLJames, post:9, topic:234256"]
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. - Thanks, I am in the vocation of a consecrated virgin and the employment or job of a canon lawyer. That is an extremely admirable public exemplar of Christ's spiritual presence here on earth worthy of emulation and respect.

No, but it is my contention that the Church makes the difference between counsels and precepts quite clear. It is not a sin (except in very exceptional cases) to not join the consecrated state if God invites a person to do so. In my language, obligation obliges, and I'm saying that a "moral obligation" would oblige under pain of sin... only in this case, there is no sin. Therefore, it is not a moral obligation. We have a moral obligation to attend Sunday Mass if we can. We do not have a moral obligation to choose chocolate ice cream over pie (normally speaking.... again, circumstances might dictate otherwise like a fatal allergy to chocolate). We have the moral obligation of reaching perfection (heaven) but whether it happens now on earth or we barely squeak by to heaven, it is ultimately fulfilled by remaining in the state of sanctifying grace.

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

[/indent]

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.

Consecrated virgins are unique in that like ordained men, they are ontologically changed by the prayer said over them by their bishop. They do not take public vows any more than diocesan priests do (diocesan priests take promises of celibacy and obedience to the bishop; consecrated virgins take no promises or vows).

Diocesan hermits do take vows/sacred bonds in the hands of their bishop and they are considered public examples of consecrated life, because they are in the consecrated state.

Can. 603 §1 Besides institutes of consecrated life, the Church recognises the life of hermits or anchorites, in which Christ's faithful withdraw further from the world and devote their lives to the praise of God and the salvation of the world through the silence of solitude and through constant prayer and penance.

§2 Hermits are recognised by law as dedicated to God in consecrated life if, in the hands of the diocesan Bishop, they publicly profess, by a vow or some other sacred bond, the three evangelical counsels, and then lead their particular form of life under the guidance of the diocesan Bishop .

Can. 604 §1 The order of virgins is also to be added to these forms of consecrated life. Through their pledge to follow Christ more closely, virgins are consecrated to God, mystically espoused to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church, when the diocesan Bishop consecrates them according to the approved liturgical rite.

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. Agreed. But religious are only one branch of the consecrated state. Virgins and Hermits are the other two. What the Magisterium has said about consecrated life is that the fundamental element is not the three evangelical counsels but either virginity or perfect chastity (see Vita Consecrata). Religious choose to enter a communal path of consecrated life, hermits, solitary consecrated life, and virgins spousal form of consecrated life. Each form of consecrated life has its own unique essential elements but what is common to all forms is chastity (or virginity if one is a virgin) for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pax

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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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