ASK FATHER: Faithful, active women religious. Where to go?

Definitely NOT this kind!

From a reader…


I’ve been discerning a religious vocation for about a year and a half, but lately I’ve been frustrated and confused about the right community to look into. My vocations director is a member of an LCWR community and, although I feel more drawn to an apostolic/ active way of life, I just can’t accept the way that most of those communities practice the faith. Not to sound harsh, but I want to devote my life to serving God and His Church, not to live in the name of “social justice” or pluralism. Unfortunately most of the communities I know of that would offer the most orthodox/ traditional approach to the faith are mainly contemplative or cloistered. I pray that I am mistaken, and, If so, I could really use advice on where to go next or at least what direction I should turn to. Are there any active communities that you could recommend?

This is surely a problem that many young women have.

I have an inkling that religious life for women could undergo a real flourishing again, given the development of new options.   To some I would suggest, perhaps, organizing half a dozen gals and then enter and take over some existing dying group!

That said.

Off the top of my head, the Nashville Dominicans are great teachers!

The Hawthorne Dominicans are truly impressive as are the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The Missionaries of Charity are amazing.

I think the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa have an active dimension.

You may be looking also for groups that use the traditional Roman Rite.

Readers can help with this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. maryctillotson says:

    A friend of mine just made final vows with the Sisters of Life. They’re faithfully Catholic and do a lot of on-the-ground pro-life work, e.g. providing for the needs of pregnant women in difficult circumstances, etc.

  2. Sawyer says:

    Salesian Sisters of Saint John Bosco might be something to look into if she feel called to an apostolic, active religious community. The sisters in that community I know of are faithful and joyful and do good work with people.

  3. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Can’t go wrong with these sisters, I have found. :^)

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    Look for the groups that belong to the CMSWR, and maybe join the Institute on Religious Life and you will receive their magazine Religious Life which, although it is not directly a “vocations” publication, includes some information about and advertisements for faithful religious communities. The only religious that are involved with that organization are those who, obviously, support its aims. Seems like IRL is dedicated to living religious life in keeping with the real teachings of the Church on religious life including the real teaching of “Perfectae Caritatis” the Vatican II document on religious life.

  5. CDNowak says:

    The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, MI, continue similar life to Nashville:

    The Religious Sisters of Mercy in Alma, MI, have a variety of apostolates, from medical clinics to education:

  6. padredana says:

    The Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Alexandria, South Dakota are fantastic! I’m their chaplain. They do not have a website. You can write to them (and/or send donations) at: Mother Prioress, Carmelite Monastery, P.O. Box 67, Alexandria, SD 57311.

  7. Benedict Joseph says:

    Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart
    Sisters of Christian Charity, Mendham NJ
    Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
    Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirmed
    And don’t overlook the contemplatives. Their lives might have more activity – “engaged & occupied” — than you might think. One of them might just suit you.
    Benedictine Nuns
    Trappistine Nuns
    Discalced Carmelites [their monasteries are a mixed bag, try these first – they are flourishing]
    Valparaiso, Nebraska; Elysburg, Pennsylvania
    We urgently need good sisters and nuns. Don’t give up!

  8. rmichaelj says:

    Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King in Kansas City, especially if you want to teach.

  9. PCali says:

    The Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa are a blend of active and contemplative. They have a few apostolates around the diocese while still maintaining a solid daily community life(Mass, Office, etc.). They’re definitely seen around the parish and diocese.

  10. Malta says:

    The Little Sister’s of the Poor are super-cool. My grandmother became a Catholic while living with them (I’m the only other Catholic in my family tree, probably since the Reformation–on my dad’s side: 32nd and 33rd degree Masons, mostly lawyers, who hate Christians; my dad has Masonic parchment papers, which to me are a little creepy to even look through). The mother house is in France, and they keep those sisters moving, because the work is hard, and change is good. But you never stay in one place for more than, I think, five years. You always stay for a time in France.

  11. cpt-tom says:

    This is the teaching order for the Wichita Diocese Schools:

    Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Wichita
    Colwich, KS
    Main Number: 316-722-9316

    Fax: 316-772-4568
    Vocations Director Sr. Marie Therese, IHM
    Phone: 316-722-9316
    3550 N. 167th St. West
    Colwich, KS 67030

  12. frthomashoisington says:

    I’d like to second what spt-tom has said. I’m the chaplain for the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Wichita. They’re a teaching order and are dedicated to a Carmelite spirituality. I try to preach about St. Teresa of Jesus and her teaching and example as often as possible.

  13. Cafea Fruor says:

    Like Elizabeth said, I’d recommend taking a look at the member communities of the CMSWR. I spend several years in one of the CMSWR’s founding communities, and that community was really involved with the CMSWR, so I got to know a lot of those communities. The CMSWR was actually founded by more traditional and faithful communities in reaction to the LCWR’s nonsense, so the CMSWR’s member communities have been intentional about joining them vs. the LCWR.

    You can find a list of the member communities here:

  14. Cafea Fruor says:


    Why is there no edit button?

    [You have one, built in.]

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  16. rtjl says:

    Study the lives, teachings and spiritualities of the founders of various orders. Discover the original charisms of the orders and see which order’s charism seems to line up with your own charism(s), giftedness and spiritual dispositions. Then look at the modern instances of the order and see if they have remained true to their charism or at least if there are congregations within the order that have remained true. Dominicans are a good example: you will find many Dominican groups that have remained faithful to the Dominican charism, and are true blessings to the church, (some listed here by Father Z) and many others that have gone completely off the rails.

  17. bobbird says:

    This link is for the Sisters of the Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus, Sovereign Priest. Our daughter-in-law’s sister is a member. They have moved their convent throughout Europe, but are based in Tuscany. They are non-cloistered contemplatives and pray for the seminarians nearby.

  18. Mike says:

    The Missionaries of Charity probably merit a look. I know of at least one house some of whose sisters attend the traditional Mass, often with orphans in tow. Those same sisters offer the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for the CCD pupils of a very tradition-minded parish.

  19. JesusFreak84 says:

    What about the female branch of the Franciscans founded by Fr. Groeschel?

  20. I think the inquiry as about ACTIVES, some of those listed are cloistered. I would add another group in Southern California, the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, if someone mentioned them, I missed it. They are great, long established, and thriving.

    Although new foundations are often fine, there is always the problem of the charismatic founder / foundress, no matter how holy, and the transition afterwards. This is not at all a reason not to look at new foundations, just something to consider.

  21. Sonshine135 says:

    The Daughters of the Virgin Mother in Gastonia, NC (near Charlotte) here

    They are awesome. Just a brief description of their ministry:
    While living as visible witnesses, the Sisters do so in recognition that a woman most profoundly gives of herself through the veiled mystery of silence, hiddenness, and gentle availability. She watches for the needs around her, but does not forcefully impose herself on them. Always ready to respond in joyful evangelical availability and humble readiness to assist in the needs of the priests and seminarians, she also is docile to the powerful surrender that gave our Lady the grace and courage to say, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Similarly, it is the genius of the woman to inspire men to sacrificial action. By their witness, the Daughters, too, will call forth from these men a generous response to their apostolic life in service of the Church.

  22. WmHesch says:

    Franciscan Daughters of Mary, Covington KY (5 min from Cincinnati)

  23. brk says:

    Active Norbertine Sisters
    Wilmington, California

    Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church
    Spokane, Washington

  24. BetsyRheaume says:

    Sisters of our Mother of Divine Grace. The sisters were part of an order in Washington State that wasn’t in communion with Rome and they left and started their own order in Port Sanilac, Michigan.

  25. Fr. Kelly says:

    Dear Reader,
    My heart goes out to you in your search to follow Christ as his bride. It can be truly difficult to find the order that He may be calling you to.
    Fortunately, it sounds like you are already aware of the state of the LCWR and perhaps you understand why the CMSWR was founded to be a refuge for those communities who did not want to subscribe to the LCWR’s particular style of social engineering.
    Without knowing more about the nature of your calling, it is hard to recommend one order over another among the faithful active communities available, but providentially, the Institute on Religious Life, which was mentioned in an earlier comment has a Vocation Search tool on their website that can be very helpful in sorting through the many communities of faithful sisters.
    The website is
    Alternatively, you can go to their home page and click on the tab Vocation Search, click the sub tab Women’s Affiliates and follow the directions for either a simple or advanced search.

    It is a really helpful tool.

    May God bless you, and know that our prayers are with you as you seek to serve Our Blessed Lord.

  26. Bthompson says:
    Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church, (of the Diocese of Spokane, Wa).
    Amazing and holy women. They share a common origin with the Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa, founded by converts from a certain schismatic group; they love Mother Church even more for the time apart from her.

  27. Argument Clinician says:

    The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus are a great active order. They run a high school for girls in Saint Louis that has consistently been one of solid Catholic formation, so I imagine their apostolates elsewhere are similarly trustworthy.

  28. Gabriel Syme says:

    I echo what Kate says above and would recommend The Sister Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus, who are part of the Institute of Christ the King.

    As Kate says, they already have a good number of American sisters – but they are not only based in Italy, there is a convent of the Sisters based in Preston, England, UK where their institute runs (and is restoring) two Churches – St Walburge’s and English martyrs – and also runs a traditional school. The latter mentioned Church is built on the spot where some of the leaders of the 1715 Jacobite rebellion where executed.

    I had the honour of meeting some of the Sisters in Preston, during a public procession in honour of the English martyrs, which was awesome. Pictures, including some of the Sisters in their striking aquamarine choir dress, can be seen here (you can also see the St Margaret Clitherow banner I carried through the town).

    The name Preston is a corruption of “Priest Town” – which is very appropriate, even today!

    Of course, the SSPX also have a sterling female order, Sisters of the SSPX, who earlier this year passed the 200-member milestone. They were founded in 1974, by Mother Marie-Gabriel (a certain Bernadette Lefebvre).

    They too are a global order and have at least one novitiate in the USA – Sacred Heart, Browerville, Minnesota.

    Some info about them:


    2012: (about the US Novitiate)

    The SSPX also have the Dominican Sisters of Fanjeaux, who have houses across France, USA and Germany:

    I appreciate some may be put off by the irregular canonical stats of the SSPX, but: better
    orthodoxy with an irregular status, than heterodoxy with a regular status!

  29. R. Gregory says:

    Missionaries of the Word are GREAT!!

  30. knute says:

    My wife was previously a member of the contemplative sisters, who share a plot of land near the apostolic sisters. During a visit last year I met a number of the sisters and was impressed by their zeal and joy for serving the Lord.

  31. hwriggles4 says:

    I do give support to the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist from time to time. They have a convent in Georgetown that is running out of room, and some of them teach in Austin Diocese Catholic Schools.

    I sponsored a postulant, a recent University of Dallas graduate, through the Laboure society, who entered the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. They are located in Connecticut.

    If the woman asking about religious life is older (I say this because certain orders are hesitant about taking someone over 40), check out the Daughters of the Divine Hope in Tyler, Texas. I have heard positive things about this order, and the sister who began the order is a widow. Besides, Tyler has an “extraordinary ordinary. “

  32. Donlan_Michael says:

    I agree that the CMSWR is a good place to look.

    The diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska is home to 2 teaching orders that are young and orthodox. The School Sisters of Christ the King were founded in the late 1970s by Bishop Glennon Flavin. Their apostolate is teaching in our diocesan elementary schools.

    Some of the Marian Sisters teach in our diocesan high schools and also run a school for mentally challenged students. Their apostolate has them in the areas of teaching, social work, and nursing.

    The Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George have many apostolates & are located outside of the diocese of Lincoln, too.

  33. Joseph Arthur says:

    A new traditional Benedictine monastery for women has just opened this past February in Silver City, NM close to the traditional monastery for men.
    They don’t seem to have a website but the men’s monastery does:

  34. CarlosGC says:

    The Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother is a beautiful community as well. Their missions are: 1. The defense of the Eucharist
    2. The defense of the honor of Our Lady, especially in her perpetual virginity.
    3. Conquest of the youth for Jesus Christ

    In addition to the Evangelical Counsels, the sisters and brothers take a fourth vow to defend the Eucharist “with and through their lives”.

  35. Mater says:

    For contemplative, try
    Trappistines, Mt. St. Mary’s Wrentham, MA
    Poor Clare’s, Barhamsville, VA
    Carmelites, Loretto PA or Elysburg, PA or new foundation in Fairfield PA (last two, extraordinary form)

    Do some visits, keep praying for God to lead you.

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