Some religious orders now include associate membership, which allows single and married laypeople to maintain a close bond with the community. The requirements and commitments between communities and their “associates” or “co-members” vary with each religious order. Generally, associate members feel drawn to the charism—the spirit and mission—of the community and pledge to carry out prayer and works of service according to the community’s charism and their own abilities and integrate that spirit into their way of life. They usually take part in some communal activities of the community.
A recent study found there are more than 27,000 associate members of religious institutes in the United States. To find out which religious communities exist in your area—and which have associate members—talk to a diocesan vocation director.
For more information, contact: Ellen O’Connell, S.C. North American Conference of Associates and Religious 1720 Metropolitan Ave. Bronx, NY 10462 (718) 918-9420 E-mail: EOCSC@aol.com or firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.catholic-church.org/nacar/ SECULAR THIRD ORDERS Secular third orders—like the Lay Carmelites and the Oblates of St. Benedict—are associations of laypeople who follow the inspiration and guidance of a religious order while living in the world. Third order members are usually received into the religious community in a particular ceremony and pledge themselves to certain prayers and religious practices. For more information on secular third orders, inquire with individual communities.
Permanent deacons are men, usually 35 or older and self-supporting, who are ordained to minister in the church after a formal period of formation sponsored by a diocese. The ministry of the deacon is threefold: ministry of service; ministry of the word, such as preaching, catechesis, retreat work, and counseling; and liturgical ministry, including leading certain parts of the Mass and other sacramental roles such presiding at baptisms and weddings. Deacons may also be involved with parish pastoral ministry tasks. Although a permanent deacon may be married at the time of ordination, if he is single at ordination or if his wife dies, he is expected to remain celibate.
For more information about the diaconate, contact: Secretariat for the Diaconate, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 3211 4th St., N.E. Washington, DC 20017-1194 (202) 541-3000 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.usccb.org/deacon/ SECULAR INSTITUTES Secular institutes, such as the Focolare Movement, are a form of consecrated life in which members live a life of celibate chastity, poverty, and obedience through the witness of their Christian lives and their apostolic activity wherever they are employed. Generally members do not live in community as do members of religious institutes, though they may. Secular institutes are for lay-women, laymen, and diocesan priests. Periodically, members of respective institutes come together for retreats, meetings, and renewal. For more information, contact: United States Conference of Secular Institutes P.O. Box 4556, 12th St. N.E. Washington, DC 20017-9998 (262) 547-7733 E-mail: MargeBaker@secularinstitutes.org or CarolWinkler@secularinstitutes.org Web: www.secularinstitutes.org/.
According to church law, consecrated virgins are “. . . consecrated to God, mystically espoused to Christ and dedicated to the service of the church. . . .” A woman is admitted to consecration by her local bishop, who determines the conditions under which she lives her life of perpetual virginity. Candidates for consecration must be women who have never been married, had children, or lived in open violation of chastity. Once consecrated, a woman is closely bonded to her diocese and its bishop and supports the diocesan clergy through prayer and sacrifice. Outside of work, they serve their diocese in a variety of ways. They are devoted to the Mass, the daily prayers of the Divine Office, and private prayer.
For more information, contact: Loretta Matulich U.S. Association of Consecrated Virgins P.O. Box 1212 Oregon City, OR 97045-0091 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.catholic-forum.com/usacv/.