top of page
Image by DDP


There are many different religious orders,

here are some links to communities in England & Wales.

Religious Orders & Religious Congregations

One of the first things that anyone discerning a vocation to religious life will become aware of is the great variety of forms of religious life. The main distinction is between monks and nuns who live in an enclosed convent or monastery and religious who work outside the cloister, for example in education, health-care or evangelization.

There are hundreds of different religious orders or congregations, each of which contributes a particular gift to the life of the Church. Some are rooted in the great spiritual traditions, such as Carmelites or Benedictines; others are based upon a particular ministry, such as Dominican preaching or the Missionaries of Charity’s care for the poorest of the poor.

Societies of Apostolic Life


There are many forms of Societies of Apostolic Life, all of which resemble institutes of consecrated life, but to different degrees. Members usually live in community and are dedicated to a specific apostolic or missionary task.

In some Societies of Apostolic Life members take private vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, in others only the vow of chastity is taken, while in some there are no vows to the society at all. For example, the Mill Hill Missionaries commit themselves to the Society by taking a Missionary oath through which members dedicate themselves for life to be available for the mission of the Society. Others, like the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul each make annual private vows on a set date. Still others, like the Congregation of the Oratory, are groups of priests living in community without vows.

The Second Vatican Council described how the Church presents different aspects of Christ through the variety of religious congregations: “Christ in contemplation on the mountain, in His proclamation of the kingdom of God to the multitudes, in His healing of the sick and maimed, in His work of converting sinners to a better life, in His solicitude for youth and His goodness to all people”.


Click to a link to download a religious life timeline explaining the emergence of different religious charisms throughout the Church’s history

If you need more help in knowing where to start, contact us on

Female apostolic congregations are generally sisters who go out to do their work.

Female enclosed orders generally stay in their convent.

Religious brothers, are like religious sisters only they are men. They are not ordained as priests and can do many different kinds of work.

Congregations and Orders where both priests and brothers live and work together.

Male Religious Congregations both who stay in the monastery or go out to work or on mission.

bottom of page