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Kieran McKernan wrote:

Dear Fathers,

I am hoping that someone might be able to point me in the right direction.

I am trying to find my great aunt who I have been told joined the sisterhood in the United States.

  • The problem is no one knows what religious order she joined so I am wondering if there is a religious order database somewhere, maybe in the Vatican, that would list religious sisters?

Thanks for all your help,


  { Do you know if there is a database of religious brothers and sisters from various orders? }

Mike replied:

Hi Kieran,

Thanks for the question.

We aren't ministerial priests or Fathers, but thank-you for the compliment.

The only resource I know is the P.J. Kenedy & Sons, The Official Catholic Directory®.
I doubt they have:

  • an on-line version of the directory, or
  • software you can buy

but you can always call and ask.

Even if P.J.K. can provide one of the above search tools, unless they have all the names of all religious, in all the religious orders, in the United States, which I doubt, you have your work cut out.

I am assuming by your question that you don't know what religious order she joined.
Fr. Jonathan or someone from P.J.K may have an idea of how to proceed.

If the Vatican has a worldwide search tool for clergy and religious, unless Fr. Jonathan knows of a resource, I'm unaware of one.

That's the best I can do.


Richard replied:

Kieran —

There is an annual book on the subject; I think it's called:

A Guide to Religious Ministries for Catholic men and women

or something like that. It's full of ads from various communities, but also contains a complete listing of religious orders present in the US and Canada. Often college chaplaincy offices have free copies to give out.

My answer probably isn't of much use to you over in the United Kingdom.

The Official directory may be helpful, though. Diocesan directories usually list all the religious sisters present in the diocese, so it's possible that the National directory may do the same. You may need to seek some help at a United Kingdom library to see if they have the book.

Alternatively, if he you have some U.S. friends with access to a library with the directory, that's another route.

— RC

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Kieran —

I checked with our Delegate for Religious and she stated she also uses the Kenedy Directory.

Fr. Jonathan

Kieran replied:

Dear all,

Thank you all very much for all your help. I think might have found my great aunt who became a nun in the June 1901 census for Kings, New York as it has the correct date of birth on line 79 of the attached image.

I believe she wasn't long in the convent before she died. I can't seem to find her in the 1911 census but this could be because she was a nun by then and would possibly have another name.

Thanks for all your help. It is very much appreciated. I would love to know where her grave is so
I can come to the USA and visit it.



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