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Thomas Houselin wrote:

Hello Father Humphrey,

I have a question I want to ask, so I went to Catholic Answers and got your e-mail from that site.

It is a vocational question. I have sensed the Inner Call of serving God for years, but I have never been led to make a vow of chastity, since have desired to be married. Picking up a Priest, Sister, Brother brochure this morning at a local Roman Catholic Church prompted me to ask this question today.

  • Are there any orders for brothers that do not require a vow of chastity and which allow a brother to be married?

Thomas Houselin

  { Are there any religious orders that don't require a vow of chastity and allow brothers to marry? }

Mike replied:

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for the question.

Although I'm not a priest, I'd be happy help you out.

If you have an inner call, definitely follow it. I think everyone of a religious nature can imagine the good side of each vocation we did not choose, whether as:

  • a priest
  • a brother
  • a husband,
  • or just a single Catholic man, like me.

I've often referred to the good parts of the other vocations, that we didn't choose, as a type of vocation envy we have. I think it's normal. Though there may be cool things in other vocations we are drawn toward, it's important to remember that a vocation is a life-time commitment.
For that reason, we have to focus on the question:

  • What vocation is the Lord Jesus calling me to?
  • For what purpose was I created?

This means sacrificing the goods of the other vocational callings to meet what we really feel called to do. This can take time and requires a regular prayer and sacramental life.

  • Struggling with chastity?

Ask the Lord for help.

Try to go to Mass and Adoration regularly and let the Lord evangelize you (in silence — mind to mind) while you are in the Chapel or at Mass. Ask questions, argue, agree, disagree, then see what else He places on your mind.

He understands because Jesus (Fully God and at the same time Fully Man ) was a man like us in all things but sin. He understands our humanity more than we understand it because He created our humanity!

In answer to your question:

To my knowledge, there are no religious groups, that I know of, that wouldn't require a vow of chastity or who would allow a brother to get married. All religious orders, to my knowledge, take vows of:

  • poverty
  • chastity, and
  • obedience

The first thing that came to my mind when I read your question was joining a third order and
I believe many, if not most, religious orders have them for both men and women, whether they are single or married.

You would live as an ordinary practicing Catholic but the third order would require that you say a certain set of prayers on a daily basis, usually from the Liturgy of the Hours. You would also be required to visit the monastery on a regular basis in accordance with the rules of that third order. I believe:

  • the Benedictines, and
  • the Franciscans

have third orders. If there are others, I'm unaware of them.

Though we are a separate Catholic Apologetics group that is faithful to the Magisterium, you are welcome to share my answer with our colleagues at Catholic Answers.

I hope this helps,


Thomas replied:

Thank you,

This is very helpful Brother Mike.

Thomas Houselin

Eric replied:

Hi Thomas,

There are groups called covenanted communities that may serve the purpose you're looking for.

People pursue a common life together bound by a covenant. They aren't religious orders in the classical sense but they have elements of community. They:

  • have gatherings
  • conduct catechesis
  • share a way of life
  • support each other, and
  • often live near each other.

Some of them are canonically erected, for example, as Institutes of Apostolic Life. A few examples are:

Sword of the Spirit is an umbrella organization that many such covenanted communities belong to. Some of these groups are ecumenical and some are specifically Catholic, so if you have a preference, make a note. Controversy has beset some of these groups so be sure to do your due diligence. On the other hand, some of them involved in controversy have learned from their mistakes.

I forgot about another option. That is the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, a monastic community founded by singer John Michael Talbot, which is open to families, celibates, and singles.


Fr. Jonathan replied:

Hi, Thomas —

The answer is no as to a traditional brother.

Brothers are members of religious institutes who take public vows which include celibacy. Celibacy should not be confused with chastity which is something that all Catholics are called to.

Third order members really should not use the term brother but I recognize that some of them may do this informally.

Fr. Jonathan

Thomas replied:

Thank you, Eric and Fr. Jonathan.

Your help is appreciated.


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