Is it possible for sisters/nuns to switch orders?


That is, after they've received their permanent vows, could they go from a more active order to a contemplative (cloistered) order? I was talking to someone about this, but I'm not sure if she was talking about just certain types of orders (especially slightly more liberal orders) or all orders. To use some local orders as an example, say someone wanted to go from the All Saints Sisters of the Poor to the Port Tobacco Carmelites. But, wouldn't they have to go through the postulant/novice cycle again since it's a new order?


Usually it is “not done”. Of course, if the permanent vows haven’t been made yet one can simply “leave” an order. But it is a fact that some orders refuse people because they were members of other orders once.

That’s why you need to pray and think a lot before joining an order and why they, the order, leave so many time between the ‘first contact’ and the permanent vows: you need to be sure this is the life you want.


I know of at least one case where a priest of the Society of the Divine Word was given permission to leave his Order and enter the Trappists. If this is possible for male religious, I would assume it is possible for female religious.


and with permission from the Vatican they can even start a new Order.

I would hope many good nuns would leave the 80 Orders of those who supported the health care bill that included federal funding for abortion, euthanasia due to rationing, and did not care about a conscience clause for health care workers.

These are the Nuns orders that I would not trust with children or anyone else if you care about the Church’s teachings.
Obviously they can not be trusted.

There are other Nuns Orders that are obedient and faithful to the teachings of the Church.


That’s pretty much what I thought, at least for non-cloistered to cloistered. I think she probably had active orders in mind when she said that.

I was just looking at that link the past hour. Seems most, if not all (from what I’ve seen so far), have removed or greatly modified their habits. Then there’s the fact that most of these orders seem to be getting up there in age.


It can be done for one to leave their current order in order to be received into a new order. There are, of course, rules to be followed (such as, I imagine, getting the permission of the superiors in both the old and new orders).

I also recall reading somewhere that a religious can only transfer to an order of equal or greater rigor. To use an example from male religious, that would mean a brother could go from the Dominicans to the Carthusians, but not from the Carthusians to the Dominicans (I think the Carthusians are considered the top of the “food chain”, so to speak).


All I know is that a franciscan sister left her order to enter into the redemptoristine cloister here in niagara. Whether this is the norm I do not know. She was a long time sister in the fransciscan order as being a novice, she was 62 (although she did not look it at all...)

Prior to all of this she was a pharmacist...


The canon law regarding this kind of process, which answers a lot of the questions raised here, is detailed at:

Although the individual does not repeat a novitiate as such, they must engage in a probation of at least 3 years (the constitutions of the institute to which they transfer may specify a longer period).

The permission of the highest authority of both institutes - the one left and the one joined - is required if a move is to be made. And even after probation, the institute to which the person wishes to transfer can refuse admission, just as no person has a guarantee of acceptance to final vows when they commence religious formation.


You just hijacked the thread.


In reading the histories of sisters in various institutes, both active and contemplative, one comes across histories of a particular sister changing orders, sometimes within the same charism, tho’ often from an active branch to a contemplative branch. An active Dominican joining a contemplative Dominican monastery; an active Franciscan joining the Poor Clares. If you read the backgrounds of the Poor Clares of Greenville, SC, for example, a number of these nuns were members of other active orders for years before becoming Poor Clares.

One also reads of members switching institutes within the same charism of an active order. There was an Immaculate Heart of Mary who transferred to the group in Kansas.


I know of two instances where this has occurred. A diocesean priest (he is in my diocese) entered the Franciscan order after a lot of years as a diocesean priest. In addition to his usual work within the Franciscan community, he returns here to help out as a visiting priest when there is a need due to vacations, illness, ect.

Also, I became acquainted a few years ago with a sister from an active, teaching order who--after her perpetual vows--entered a contemplative community.

It can be done but there's a process. People just don't willy-nilly leap from community to community.


There’s a process, and it often includes at least one year of novitiate. A professed sister from a diocesan enclosed Dominican community joined an order of enclosed Dominican nuns, and spent at least one year in the novitiate.


Yes, it is possible....the most famous 'transfer' was Sister Lucia of Fatima. She entered the Sisters of St. Dorothy, an active congregation, in 1927. She was professed as a lay Sister [meaning she did the domestic work in the community] in 1934. When she was in a boarding school run by the Dorotheans, she read the Autobiography of St. Therese, and was so taken by it that she wanted to become a Discalced Carmelite. But the Mother Superior of the school thought she was not strong enough for the austerities of the Order, and advised her to choose an Order with 'a simpler Rule'. So Lucia entered the Dorotheans, and was in it till 1948, when she transferred to the Carmelites in Coimbra, Portugal, where she lived till her death in 2005.

As a 'reversal' from contemplative/cloistered to active, I knew of a Discalced Carmelite who was the extern Sister of her monastery. She left Carmel to enter the 'Sisters Minor of Mary Immaculate', an active community inspired by St. Maxmilian Kolbe [not to be confused with the better-known 'Franciscans of the Immaculate'...similiar apostolate, but not the same Rule].


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