UK Religious Life > Glossary
- Active religious communities whose mission includes ministry in the community, such as social work, education or evangelisation
- A man who commits himself to Christ by the three vows (poverty, celibacy and obedience) within a religious order but is not ordained as a priest. Some religious who are ordained as priests prefer to be called ‘brother’.
- A term used in varied ways by different religious orders. It can be interchangable with postulant (see below) or in some religious orders is the name for those in the stage before postulancy.
- The particular focus and spirit of a religious community, for example “to bring God’s love to the poor”.
- A commitment to not getting married or having sexual or exclusive relationships. Click to access this website’s page on the vows.
- Living relationships with integrity and honesty. Religious live the call to all Christians to chastity through celibacy (see above).
- Contemplative communities that limit their contact with the outside world.
- Groups of religious who live together in the same house. Communities can vary in size. The general name for a collection of communities is usually a Province or Region.
- Refers to a distinct religious family, such as the Sisters of Mercy, Dominicans, Jesuits, etc. The word order is used in the same way as congregation.
- Given entirely to God through the vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience.
- Refers to a house where a community of religious sisters live together.
- A process of praying and reflecting on God’s call, important for decision making. Click to access this website’s page on discernment.
- The process of education and spiritual development that takes place throughout the life of a member of a religious order. In the early months and years of joining, this is referred to as initial formation, which continues until making final vows, a process which can take 5 to 11 years. In later years it is known as ongoing formation.
- A friar is a male religious who commits to a community spread across a wide geographical area and will typically move around, spending time in different religious houses. This is different from a monk (see below) who commits to a particular community in a given place. Friars include Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians and Carmelites.
- Every religious will refer to their ministry, which is his or her work, usually more than just a job. The choice of ministry will emerge from an individual’s sense of the charism of his or her order, the individual’s gifts and aptitudes and the order’s needs.
- A place where monastic religious live together, including their chapel
- A male religious who makes a commitment to live in a particular monastery. Monastic orders include Benedictines, Cistercians and Carthusians.
- A person who is in the stage of preparation and training before making religious vows. The time of noviciate usually lasts between a year and two years.
- A woman who lives within a cloistered religious community and is dedicated to prayer for the needs of the world.
- A vow of obedience is a response to do God’s will as revealed through events and the requests of those in authority. Click to access this website’s page on the vows.
- See congregation (above)
- A person who is in the inital stage of entry into religious life. In many religious congregations been replaced by candidate (see above). It denotes anywhere between six months and two years preparation before entrance as a novice (see above). It is a time when the individual and the religious order discerns whether this is the way of life to which he or she is being called.
- The vow of poverty is the choice to live simply and share one’s goods, time and gifts, particularly with the poor or marginalised. Religious hold money and property in common with one another. Click to access this website’s page on the vows.
- Refers to the taking of public vows in a religious order. The vows in first profession are generally taken for a period of 3 to 6 years and then, in final or solemn profession, for life.
- The person responsible for the administration of a religious order in a particular country or region. He or she is usually assisted by a team of people, often known as a council. The person with overall responsibility for a congregation all over the world is often referred to as the Congregational Leader or the Superior General.
- A woman who has made public vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience within a religious order.
- Religious who have made first vows but have yet to make their final commitment to a congregation. The period of temporary profession can be between three and nine years, depending on the religious order and individual circumstances. At the end of this period a person may ask to make final vows, (also known as final profession or solemn profession), by which they make a commitment for life to the order.
- A call from God to follow Him in a special way to respond to His love. For more information visit www.ukvocation.org
- Religious take three vows or solemn promises of poverty, obedience and celibacy. Click to access this website’s page on the vows.