Types of Religious Orders

Contemplative Orders

Some religious are contemplative orders. Members focus on prayer, meditation, worship, and service within their community. These nuns and monks live apart from the rest of the world, yet pray and follow penitential practices for the world and the Church, as they engage in self-supporting work. Examples include the Trappists and Carmelites.

Active or Apostolic Orders

Many more religious men and women are part of active or apostolic orders. These communities are out in the world actively serving God's people in a wide variety of ways. These sisters, brothers, and religious order priests may be teachers, health care workers, parish ministers, missionaries, or people working with the poor. Their ministry is done in connection with their religious community, and in the context of prayer.

Priests may be either a religious order priest or a diocesan priest. A religious order priest may be involved in a great variety of ministries over time, yet always is connected to his religious order through community life and prayer. Most diocesan priests spend most or all of their priesthood serving the people of God within the parishes of the diocese.