Religious Vocations

Diocese of Cleveland

Vocation Terms

Apostolic Community – An apostolic community has a mission to minister in the world unlike a contemplative community which remains within the convent or monastery.

Brother – A brother is a lay man who is a consecrated religious and who is not ordained. He belongs to a community and takes the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Brothers have a variety of ministries. Communities of brothers usually also have priest members.

Candidate – A candidate is someone in the initial stage of joining a community that precedes the novitiate. In some communities candidates are called postulants.

Celibacy – The state of refraining from sexual activity and marriage. Priests in the Roman rite are traditionally asked to practice celibacy. Religious men and women, however, practice celibacy as an integral and essential part of who they are as religious: people consecrated totally to Christ.

Charism – A charism is a gift the Holy Spirit. It is given to a person or a group for the good of the whole Church. Each religious congregation has a special charism which permeates its purpose, identity and mission. Individuals have charisms that coincide with their congregation’s charism.

Chastity – Chastity is the virtue of respecting sexuality and having sex only with a marriage partner. All people are to be chaste and to exercise responsible love. Religious make a vow of chastity, which for them means lifelong celibacy. They choose to forego sexual activity in order to commit themselves to loving all people and witnessing to God’s kingdom. Their celibacy frees them to love God single heartedly.

Cloistered – Cloistered means living enclosed in a convent, seldom leaving the building and having little direct contact with outsiders. Usually contemplative communities are cloistered as a means of fostering their prayer ministry.

Discernment – This is the process of discovering one’s calling, one’s vocation. Will you be called to the religious life, married life, priesthood, or single life?

Formation – During this time a man or women would learn the customs, traditions, charism, prayers and history of the vocation they are embracing.

Obedience   – Religious promise to make decisions in tune with God’s will, which is mediated for them through the leadership of the community. They discern God’s will by listening to their co-religious, to their own hearts, to the Church, and the world’s needs.

Poverty – Poverty means the right use of possessions and renouncing the independent use of material goods. Religious try to live simply and share things in common. Communities commit their resources for the common good and to bring about the reign of God in the world.

Sister – A sister is a lay woman who belongs to a religious community. She professes vows and serves God according to her gifts, the needs of the church and the charism of the community. A nun is usually referred to a sister in a contemplative religious community.

Vows – These are the promises made by religious men and women. These promises include: poverty, chastity, obedience, and celibacy.

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