In how many third orders can a lay person be enrolled?

Hello everyone

As most of you know, there are lay persons enrolled in what it is called a “third order”.

In how many can a lay person be enrolled? For example, a person who is a third dominican also wants to be a member of the franciscan third order.

I know that each person should be enrolled in the charism that is according to the vocation and state of life.

This is just curiosity, Thank you.


Canon 307§2 would seem to allow people to belong to multiple third orders (referred to as associations in the canon). So from a canon law perspective it is okay. You would need to check each of the orders’ rule to see of they would allow membership in other orders.

The real question is how practicle it would be. Most third order require several years of formation before being a full member. It would be difficult to live in community with one order while being formed in a different one, but that doesn’t mean it would be impossible.

If you are a professed member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, you’re not allowed to belong to other orders, or even organizations such as the Knights of Columbus.


Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) is exclusive - you can’t belong to any other order. I don’t think Knights of Columbus are included in that exclusion. I know several Franciscans, including my husband, who are also Knights.

I believe you must choose one, because the orders themselves don’t allow membership to more than one.

I visit all the ones you’re interested in. Sometimes they have special event days where they welcome non-members to learn about the order, and they usually allow inquirers (they might want inquirers to start at a specific time of year, though). Learn about each order and pray about it and you will be able to discern to which order God is calling you.

A Third Order is the lay extension of the particular Order.

Every Order has its own charism and attracts different spiritualities.

In the rule of the Lay Carmelites that I belong to, we are only allowed to be in one Third Order.

If one truly understands the goal of a Third Order, then it would be understood that it makes no sense to be in more than one Third Order.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit