Religious Communities of Women
Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC)
The charism of our Congregation is personal sanctity and redemptive uplift of the people of God, especially women and children, through the right blending of contemplation and action. Be holy and lead others to holiness is its essence.
Daughters of the Heart of Mary (DHM)
The Daughters of the Heart of Mary are 21st century ecclesial women of many nations and cultures alive with the gifts of the Spirit. Following the example of the original Christian communities, our spirituality is rooted in Sacred Scripture and is exemplified in lives and ministries strengthened by communal prayer and spiritual sharing.
Dominican Sisters of Adrian, MI (OP/Dominicans)
In the mission of Jesus we discover and identify ourselves as women called together to share faith and life with one another and sent into our world to be with others, bearers and recipients of his love, co-creators of God’s justice and peace.
Dominican Sisters of Peace (O.P. / Dominicans)
We claim our charism to preach truth—with a new fire. Our preaching flows from our contemplation and is embodied in our prayer, study, community and ministry. Rooted in the heritage of the Order of Preachers, we witness to the living presence of the Risen Christ.
Missionary Catechist Sisters (MCS)
We have chosen to imitate, follow and serve Christ chaste, poor and obedient. We make the Eucharist the center of our lives and through it we draw the dynamism of our existence. We honor the Virgin Mary in her Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Francis Xavier as our Patron Saints.
Missionary Sisters of the Holy Family (MSF)
The spiritual foundation of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Family comes from the Holy Family whose unity is based on the Holy Trinity. Therefore, “we need to, even in mere fraction, know more deeply the life of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Granted God’s grace, we have to try to follow their footsteps.” (Blessed Boleslawa Lament, foundress.)
Religious Sisters Filippini (MPF)
We live a life of prayer and service to the Church and the world in the name of Jesus Christ. We model our lives on the life of St. Lucy Filippini and promise to live lives of poverty, chastity and obedience. We serve as sisters in the ministry of education to women and children throughout the world.
Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SCTJM)
Our apostolic charism is to be ardent witnesses of the power and fecundity of love and the Splendor of the Magisterium and Treasures of the Church so as to form the human heart and build a new civilization of love, truth, and life in the heart of the Church and in the heart of the world.
Sinsinawa Dominicans (OP)
Sinsinawa Dominican women are called to proclaim the Gospel through the ministry of preaching and teaching in order to participate in the building of a holy and just Church and society.
Sisters for Christian Community (SFCC)
We strive to forward the realization of Christ’s prayer, “that all may be ONE.” To achieve this we seek to bring together into a community of Christ-committed women afire with the mission of building up the Body of Christ through helping to build dynamic Christian Community wherever we live out our calling.
Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Providence (CDP)
Impelled by the Spirit of Jesus, we commit ourselves to co-create a world of compassion, justice and peace. We nurture in ourselves and in others a trust and confidence in God’s faithful presence. We further commit ourselves to making God’s providence more visible in our world.
Sisters of Incarnation-Consecration-Mission (ICM)
Sisters of Incarnation-Consecration-Mission (ICM)
We imitate Christ who has come into the world and become a man in all things but sin. We come to the people and work among them, live among them, and be with them as witnesses to Christ. As Jesus consecrated himself to his Father and to his mother as a son, we dedicate ourselves in the footsteps of Jesus in that way.
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas (RSM)
We see Jesus in the most marginalized people and take a vow of service to perform works of Mercy that alleviate suffering. We strive to follow Jesus’ example in all that we do.
Sisters of Notre Dame (SND)
Our charism and our spirit impel us to “participate in the mission of Jesus Christ, witnessing God’s goodness and provident care to others…” We devote ourselves to education in all its forms especially to catechesis and to other ministries which respond to the needs of the times, particularly those which serve people who are poor and marginalized.
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN)
With hearts as wide as the world, we make known God’s goodness and love of the poor through a Gospel way of life, community and prayer. Continuing a strong educational tradition, we take our stand with poor people, especially women and children, in the most abandoned places.
Sisters of Providence (SP)
We serve the poor and less fortunate in our society. We have a special devotion and love for our Mother of Sorrows whose compassion and attention to all persons is what we hope inspires and informs all our works.
Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity (OSF)
We, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, whole-heartedly live our vocation in the loving community spirit of our foundresses. We strive to live the Gospel in simplicity, built on faith in a loving God; joyful acceptance of poverty, love for the Church, and selfless dedication to the service of others.
Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities (OSF)
Rooted in the Gospel and energized by the spirit of St. Francis and St. Clare, we seek to be women of vision living in right relationship with God, one another and all creation.
Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix (IHMR)
In love we restore God’s Glory in the world through prayer and work, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix, in order that people know, love and remain in Jesus the Eucharist. We respond creatively and effectively to the needs of the people in the world and the inner life of the members of the Institute.
Society of Sisters for the Church, SSC
The Society of Sisters for the Church was founded in 1976, in Paterson, New Jersey by Sister Eileen Kelly, PVBM. The community was a response to the interest of a number of religious women who were leaving traditional communities, but wanted to continue to live a vowed life fashioned on the example of the women of the early Church. They live prayerfully and simply and have dedicated themselves for life, through vows of celibacy, obedience and poverty to serve the apostolic needs of the Church.
Ursuline Sisters of the Eastern Province (OSU)
In response to the needs of our times, we commit ourselves, in both our life and our work, to solidarity with the poor, to the pursuit of justice for all, especially women, and to collaboration with the laity. As a community that values both tradition and progress, we move into the future with courage and with trust in God.
Religious Sister FAQ’s
Why do young women choose religious life today?
Because God continues to call! The needs of this world’s homeless, hungry, lonely, ignorant, and oppressed cry out for the presence of religious Sisters. Sisters are women who publicly profess vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience to God in the context of a life in religious community. They assist the mission of the Church in a wide variety of ministries. Their witness to the joy, beauty and viability of community living gives hope to the world in search of unity and reconciliation.
What personal qualities are needed to become a sister?
A great love for Jesus Christ and the life of the gospel! A good candidate shows a great desire to “give back” through service to God’s people, a habit of prayer, an ability to live with others in community (or a willingness to learn), and a burning desire to spread the love of God!
What are the age and health requirements?
Women desiring to experience the life of a religious must be single (with a church annulment if divorced), 20 – 45 years of age (for most communities), with good physical, mental and emotional health.
Will I be able to keep in touch with friends and family?
Yes! The support and prayers of your loved ones will give you the courage and energy to continue to follow Christ wherever he calls you. Your care for them will speak to them of the love which God has for them.
What are some of the joys and struggles of religious life?
The Joys – Living totally for Jesus Christ with the support of a prayerful, caring community is the greatest joy for a religious woman. But her ministry, whatever the form of her of service with God’s people, is an essential part of her loving relationship with the Lord. Scripture, spiritual direction, spiritual reading, and growth in prayer contribute to the joy she finds in her call. The people with whom she ministers in parishes, schools, health care, the arts, prison ministry, counseling, liturgical involvement, and peace and justice service bring her much joy! “The apostolate is inseparable from the path of transforming union!” (Sr. Rose Hoover, rc)
The Struggles – As women living in community with other women, brought together by the call of Jesus Christ, a Sister soon experiences the frustration of living with others who do not share the opinions and ways of doing things to which she has become accustomed. Opportunities to “die to self” abound as she strives to focus more closely on the needs of others than on her own needs. She will, from time to time, experience the pain of her sacrifice of marriage and family, the demands of community living, and material luxuries.
How can I find the “right” community / order for me?
Visit several religious communities, asking for the grace to find the community where your special gifts may be best used for God’s honor and glory. Reading a national vocations magazine may be helpful in locating communities to visit. (Contact our Diocesan Vocation Office for a catalogue). Many times women read about so many communities that they begin to feel anxious. They begin to worry, “What if I don’t find the “right” community and so fail to answer God’s call?”
Read about the basic types of religious community (cloistered and apostolic) and then visit with several. Prayer for discernment and complete openness will be needed. This will help you to choose one community in which you feel a “kindred spirit.”
At this point you will need to request acceptance as an Inquirer in order to come to know that community more fully. If accepted, you will begin a spiritual formation process, without a live-in experience. It will give you the information and experience you need to make a choice either for or against continuing in formation with that community.
What are the differences between cloistered and apostolic religious communities?
Cloistered Sisters (Nuns) – Most cloistered women profess solemn vows and are called nuns. They profess vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience to God in the person of their superior. They pray in community throughout the day, as well as cherishing time spent in personal prayer. They are not “sent” outside their monastery, but serve within as artists, writers, gardeners, creators of vestments and altar breads, or special food products which are sold to maintain the monastery.
Cloistered Sisters may be spiritual directors, but they meet others from behind a grille which separates them from non-members. They do not leave the monastery grounds except in special circumstances (doctors, etc.). Cloistered Sisters profess solemn vows.
They are committed to praying for the needs of the world beyond the monastery grounds.
Apostolic Sisters – Women who are accepted as members of apostolic religious communities are called to bring their contemplative hearts into the world. They are willing to be “sent” wherever they are most needed and able to serve according to the talents which God has given them. They profess simple perpetual vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and live in community. Daily Mass and daily prayer together, as well as time spent in personal prayer, are essential to the formation of a contemplative heart.
Most apostolic religious women live under a common roof with other members of their own community. A small number live with religious women of other communities, and some Sisters, for various reasons, have received permission from their communities to live alone. In each case, community is the style of their lives; they meet regularly with other members of their community to share their faith, their vision, their friendship, and their dreams!
What is the process for becoming a sister?
Through the various stages of spiritual formation (Inquirer, Affiliate, Postulant, Novice, Initial Profession and Final Profession) a young woman comes to know and love the Sisters in her chosen community. She receives spiritual, scriptural, and theological instruction. She is offered assistance in prayer, and experiences the joys and struggles of community life.
Inquirer – A young woman who begins discernment prayer and the search for information about religious communities of women may be described as an Inquirer (Candidate/Associate). She is encouraged to speak to her pastor, spiritual director, and religious whom she knows about her questions and prayer. She attends retreats where discernment of vocational call is an emphasis whenever possible. She looks for materials which will give her a wider view of what is possible for her, and continues to pray each day to know God’s will for her life.
Affiliate – When an Inquirer finds a community in which she feels a “kinship”, she seeks to be accepted as an Affiliate (Candidate, Associate) so that she can begin a structured time of spiritual formation which will enable her to spend time with this community, getting to know the Sisters, their charism and ministries. She spends time with them in prayer, discussion, meals and recreation. She lives at home and continues with her career during this time. She has a director who helps her to know the community sisters and their “spirit.” She meets regularly with her Director (or Contact Sister) who provides her with spiritual guidance, spiritual reading and opportunities to spend time with the Sisters.
Postulant – When an Affiliate desires to experience life in community, and is accepted as a Postulant (Associate/Candidate), she begins her life as a member of a local community, united with the sisters in every facet of their lives. She is not yet a Sister, but is fully engaged in testing her own ability to live community life and ministry with this community to which she feels called. She meets regularly with her director who assists her and guides her through this process. She begins study of scripture, theology and community history.
Novice – A Postulant may request permission to begin her novitiate when she feels ready to prepare for vows and life as a Sister living in community. Her first year is a year of spiritual studies and spiritually-based ministries. It resembles a long retreat in that sense. She begins an in-depth study of the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. She continues with her study of prayer, scripture, theology and the history of religious life. She prays, plays and ministers with the sisters, beginning to test herself as a member of this community.
In her second year of novitiate, a novice is given the opportunity to enter into several of the ministries of the community for shorter periods of time in a learning capacity, thereby expanding her own experiences of Church ministry. These ministry periods are balanced by theological reflection on her growth as a minister and their effect on her life of prayer and community living. She continues her preparation for profession of vows, her spiritual direction, and study of scripture.
Profession of Vows – At the close of her second year as a novice, she may request permission to profess vows of chastity, poverty and obedience in her community for a temporary period of time. When both she and the community feel she is called by God to continue her life as a religious, she may be accepted for Final Vows.
Who should I talk with about my vocation discernment?
Start with your closest friends whom you think will be open to understanding your desires for union with God and service for and with others. Talk with your parents, your pastor, and the vocation director of the communities in whom you are interested.