Some religious congregations are apostolic and active. Their members carry out ministries directly with people and have an active prayer ministry.
The following is a list of some ministries:
- Pastoral Associates
- Pastoral Ministers
- Social Workers
- Retreat Directors
- Spiritual Directors
- Catechetical Leaders
- Day Care Centers
- Diocesan Offices
- Homes for Children
- Homes for the Elderly
- National Organizations
- Publishing Companies
- Prisons, Shrines
- Retreat Houses
- and more...
Some active communities are also missionary communities.
That is, their main work is to evangelize people in foreign countries or in the home missions.
Other religious congregations are not externally "active" but focus on carrying out the ministry of prayer. They are known as
Their members are usually cloistered. Ordinarily, they do not go outside of the convent but devote themselves to praying the Liturgy of the Hours, participate in other forms of prayer and most have perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Some communities are very ascetic; their members fast and go without shoes and other comforts or they have other means of sacrificing. Contemplative communities support themselves by activities such as making hosts, sewing vestments or producing and selling candy, bread, fruitcake or making coffins.
Contemplative communities usually include at least one sister called an extern sister who may go out of the cloister to carry out the needs of the other sisters.
In both active and contemplative orders there are members who minister to the community itself and enable the other members to carry out its mission. These include the superiors, administrators or leaders of the community, treasurers, nurses, cooks, receptionists, sacristans, and drivers.