Bringing you the "Good News" of Jesus Christ and His Church While PROMOTING CATHOLIC Apologetic Support groups loyal to the Holy Father and Church's magisterium
Home About
What's New? Resources The Church Family Life Mass and
Ask A Catholic
Knowledge base
AskACatholic Disclaimer
Search the
AskACatholic Database
Donate and
Support our work
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
New Questions
Cool Catholic Videos
About Saints
Disciplines & Practices for distinct Church seasons
Purgatory and Indulgences
About the Holy Mass
About Mary
Searching and Confused
Contemplating becoming a Catholic or Coming home
Homosexual and Gender Issues
Life and Family
No Salvation Outside the Church
Sacred Scripture
non-Catholic Cults
Justification and Salvation
The Pope and Papacy
The Sacraments
Relationships and Marriage situations
Specific people, organizations and events
Doctrine and Teachings
Specific Practices
Church Internals
Church History

Margaret Palladino wrote:

Hi, guys —

I know about the lay orders of the Carmelites, Franciscans, and Jesuits.

  • What is the fourth lay order?
  • Could you tell me a little bit about each? . . . Just a little?
  • Do the Jesuits and Franciscans allow women in their lay order?

Thank you for your time and effort.

Take care and God bless you.


  { What is the fourth lay order, can you speak on each, and do some allow women in their order? }

Mary Ann replied:

Margaret —

There may be some confusion of terms here. Religious who are not ordained are also lay so nuns and sisters, and most monks and brothers are technically considered part of the laity.

Of the four great Orders you mentioned, the fourth are the Dominicans. Each Order has their own secular arm — what used to be called Third Order (first were priests and brothers, second were nuns and sisters, and third were laity, popularly so called, i.e. people in the world).

The third orders or secular arms of these four Orders are open to both men and women.

Mary Ann

Mike replied:

Hi, Margaret —

Thanks for the question.

I have to confess my bias for the Benedictines up front. They had a significant effect on my life for which I am grateful.

In another question, having to do with becoming an Oblate, Bobby Cohoon asked:

  • Is that [becoming an Oblate] limited to persons of the Catholic faith, or it is open to anyone?
  • How does one become an Oblate (especially of there are no Oblates in the area)?

I replied as follows:

RE: On being an Oblate.

Since Oblates have a connection to a Catholic religious order, yes, it would be limited to those of the Catholic Faith. I'll show my bias here, because I'm a Benedictine at heart.

If someone wanted to become a Benedictine Oblate, he or she would go to their local diocesan Catholic directory to see if there is a local Benedictine monastery in their diocese. They could also check out nearby dioceses as well.

If there was a Benedictine order in your area, you would want to visit the monastery and ultimately make an appointment with the Superior of the Order to talk about the issue, and what would be required on your part. In my area, it can consist of a series of required daily prayers and making periodic visits to the monastery, but this will vary from order to order.

The key is the spirituality and loyalty to the Holy See. I would far rather be a Dominican Oblate associated with a religious order that is loyal to the teachings of the Church, than a Benedictine Oblate whose community members are allowed to dissent from the Magisterium of the Church.

On Catholic religious orders that are allowed to dissent from the Magisterium.

I just don't get it?

  • What have they sacrificed their life for: a phony church that is loyal to
    their moral relativistic — personal desires?
  • Where's Jesus in the picture?
  • Where's the obedience to His Will through the one Church He established on St. Peter?

Here are some informational web pages from New Advent. It will tell you a little bit about each:

Hope this helps,


John a visitor to the site commented:

Hi Mike:

I just found your web site today and like the site. I consider myself an active web surfer of Catholic web sites. The concept is wonderful and you all deserve much praise.

On this page the answer says that Benedictine oblates must be Catholic. When my wife and I, both non-Catholics, first became interested in becoming Benedictine oblates, I read about how through history there have been non-Catholic Benedictine oblates. At the monastery where my wife and I became oblates, being a Catholic is not a requirement and we became oblates while being non-Catholic.

I wanted to let you know of my experience:

  1. first because of what has been the practice in the past as I learned it, and
  2. second and more importantly, because the Benedictine practice of admitting non-Catholic oblates is a huge and effective method of evangelical outreach to the wider Christian community.

If I do not understand or have made an error, I certainly am ready to be corrected, and I will dig out the book references if you would like — but your own inquires using your good contacts should led you to the same conclusion I came to when I was wondering if a monastery would accept an evangelical Protestant as a Benedictine oblate.

Best of success to your excellent web site which is much needed and which I will use frequently in my Catholic life.

Thanks again!

Blessings to you,


Francis, a former oblate and friend of Mike's replied:

Hi, Mike!

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. Unfortunately, I am unable to give you a definitive answer.

It was always my understanding that an Oblate must be Catholic. This makes sense if an individual wants to fully participate in the spiritual life of a community.

Obviously, it's difficult to do this if the Oblate is not Catholic. It is for this reason that we do not allow non-Catholics to receive Holy Communion.

However, if there are Benedictine communities who are doing this, I would presume they are doing it in accordance with the Church's blessing.


Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
© 2012 Panoramic Sites
The Early Church Fathers Church Fathers on the Primacy of Peter. The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic. The Early Church Fathers on the importance of the Roman Catholic Church centered in Rome.