Official List of Orders of Sisters


Is there an official list of the different orders of sisters? We have recently had a nun move into our area wanting to start a priory and she is offering a vocations retreat this summer. I cannot find her order listed anywhere other than her website. She seems to move quite often and says she started her order while in Europe in the 1990’s. I am not sure how new orders are approved and if there is an official list somewhere. Thank you so much for any help you may be able to provide.


There is a book which contains those communities who have reached “pontifical right” status, meaning they have had steady growth for over 25 years. “Diocesan right” is after 10 years and steady growth. (I am moving backwards in relating the foundational sequence). Before Diocesan right is recognition of the group and its plan of life by their local bishop. This is known as “Private Association of the faithful with the intention of becoming an institute of religious life suri juris.”

Before even the recognition of the bishop is the experimental phase, where the group finds out what works for them. This phase is known by the same name as above, only without “suri juris”.

So, in short, if she is a canonically vowed religious, then she needs to let her local bishop know of her presence, unless she’s in schism. Everyone has a right to associate, so please keep that in mind.

Feel free to PM me with her website. I might know who the founder is.


Contact the Episcopal Vicar for Religious in your diocese’s chancery for the status of this person relative to your own diocese.

The simplest question is to ask the Sister who, exactly, is her ecclesiastical superior and what is the canonical status of her community vis-a-vis its competent ecclesiastical authority. There is no one in the Church who is not under a specific authority, except for the Pope who is the Vicar of Christ, .

New institutes of Religious Life begin with a diocesan approbation – and many remain institutes of diocesan right.


Your local diocese should have a diocesan directory and her order IF it is legitimate should be listed there. It would be listed in the diocesan directly regardless of which rite of the church her order was part of. I know this because in Boston where I live the diocesan directly is put out by the Latin rite and ALL rites of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts are listed in it. I also used to volunteer at a PRIVATE Catholic Shelter and it too had to be listed in it although it got no finances from the Catholic Church nor did the Catholic Church have any say on what went on in the shelter.


Not necessarily. I’m an individual with an organization who doesn’t have non-profit status, and I am not on our diocesan website, AFAIK. If the organization is involved in money, then it likely would be on the diocesan website. If the organization is non-profit, the bishop **has **to receive an annual report. I send one yearly as a matter of courtesy.

Emerging charisms, if they don’t have the recognition letter from the bishop, will more than likely NOT be on the diocesan website because they are still experimental. Fr. Gambari, in his book about founding new communities, has stated that in some cases it may be more prudent not to contact the chancery.

I always advise the founders to look to us for support that they need to send a courtesy letter letting the bishop know of their presence in his diocese, but that, depending on the gifts that come to the charism, they may not stay there. That way, all the bases are covered.

Believe it or not, the clergy are actually humbled that their example and work led to others responding to the call to deepen their baptismal promises through the religious life (or other organizations). If the charism is geared toward the works of mercy, they are especially grateful that someone noticed local needs and responded. Canon law says that if the faithful see situations requiring justice, and they have to associate to address the concern just do it.

In all charity, the OP needs to contact the sister and find out what her status with the diocese is, as Don Ruggero stated. There are admittedly some nuns out there who are trying to found new communities, but their status is “irregular.” That really gets in the way of making any kind of new foundation.


We had a nun in the parish here who came in similar circumstances. Not seen her for a while but was a notice on the board in the church I attend asking if anyone wanted any spiritual direction about vocations. I haven’t found a website about her either. Can I ask what order the nun near you was representing? I just wondered if it was the same order?


The OP and I have PM’d regarding the sister. She represents a new community, but I can’t go much further than that.


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