Society of apostolic life

A society of apostolic life is a group of men or women within the Catholic Church who have come together for a specific purpose and live fraternally. There are a number of apostolic societies, such as the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul, who make vows or other bonds defined in their constitutions to undertake to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. (See Can. 731 §2.) However, unlike members of an institute of consecrated life (religious institute or secular institute), members of apostolic societies do not make religious vows—that is, "public vows."

This type of organization is defined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law under canons 731-746. Under the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which preceded the current one, this manner of life was referred to as a society of common life.

St. Philip Neri can be considered the father of Societies of Apostolic Life


While members of apostolic societies have some community life, the mission of the community is given emphasis.[1] According to Robert P. Maloney CM, community life should be strong enough to be supportive to those who have pledged to pursue the same apostolic purpose, and flexible enough to allow members to respond to the urgent needs of those they serve. In community, apostolic societies must maintain a balance between prayer and active works.[2]

The work of various apostolic societies differs significantly from one another. They may focus on preaching, teaching, health-care, seminary education, foreign missions, retreat work, advocacy for justice, and many other objectives. Almost all apostolic societies had their origins in a need to be addressed that their founders recognized. Most apostolic societies focus on one or more aspects of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.[2] Vincent de Paul's, Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity belong to a group of societies founded in the 16th and 17th century to respond to increasing poverty in France.[3] De Paul chose not to establish the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul as a religious order, as at that time, women religious were "enclosed" (cloistered), and that state was "not compatible with the duties of their vocation".[2]

With the exception of the Oratorians, members can be reassigned among the various communities of the society as needed, and this lack of stability distinguishes this kind of society from some religious orders, such as the Benedictines, Poor Clares or Cistercians.

A community needs the written approval of a bishop to operate within his diocese. Clerics of a society of apostolic life are usually incardinated into the society and not the diocese, unless specified otherwise in its constitution (e.g. the Sulpicians who are members of both the Society and diocese). Each community has a right to its own oratory.

Members of a Society of Apostolic Life are allowed to own personal property, but must normally live in community with one another.

Canon Law (canon 731) speaks of such societies as being "comparable to institutes of consecrated life". They are regulated by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.


Uncertain attribution

Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right

For Men

For Women

Society of Apostolic Life of diocesan Right

See also


  1. ^ "Societies of Apostolic Life", Vincentian Encyclopedia
  2. ^ a b c Maloney CM, Robert P., "Spirituality of Societies of Apostolic Life", Meeting of Members of Societies of Apostolic Life - Ariccia, Italy - November 23-25, 1997
  3. ^ Holland IHM, Sharon L. , "Societies of Apostolic Life. New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, (John P. Beal, James A. Coriden and Thomas J Green, eds.) p. 892. Paulist Press, Mahwah, New Jersey]

External links

Companions of the Cross

The Companions of the Cross (C.C.) is a Society of Apostolic Life based in Ottawa, Ontario. It is a community of Roman Catholic priests, which is Eucharistic, Charismatic, Marian and Magisterial. It was founded by Father Robert Bedard and was approved in 2003 by the Vatican as a Society of Apostolic Life. Fr. Allan MacDonald is currently serving as the community's General Superior.

Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (Latin: Congregatio pro Institutis Vitae Consecratae et Societatibus Vitae Apostolicae) is the congregation of the Roman Curia with competency over everything which concerns Institutes of Consecrated Life (orders and religious congregations, both of men and of women, as well as secular institutes) and Societies of Apostolic Life, regarding their government, discipline, studies, goods, rights, and privileges.

Congregation of Jesus and Mary

The Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Latin: Congregatio Iesu et Mariae), commonly referred to as the Eudists (Latin: Congregatio Eudistarum), is a Society of Apostolic Life in the Roman Catholic Church.

Congregation of the Mission

Congregation of the Mission (Latin: Congregatio Missionis; CM) is a vowed, Roman Catholic society of apostolic life of priests and brothers founded by Vincent de Paul. It is associated with the Vincentian Family, a loose federation of organizations who claim Vincent de Paul as their founder or Patron. They are popularly known as Vincentians, Paules, Lazarites, Lazarists, or Lazarians.

Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi

The Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi are a Society of Apostolic Life and branch of the Regnum Christi Movement made up of lay women who dedicate themselves full-time to apostolate. They live consecrated life in the Church within the lay state.

The organization was formed on 8 December 1969 when three women, Margarita Estrada, Guadalupe Magaña, and Graciela Magaña, took vows without the permission of a local ordinary. For a long time the government of the consecrated women was under the Legionaries of Christ. However, after an apostolic visitation, Cardinal Velasio de Paolis decided that they would be better served by their own internal government. On 17 May 2012, Gloria Rodriguez was named the new leader after consulting the members. On November 25, 2018, they were approved by the Holy See, who established the Consecrated Women and the Lay Consecrated Men of Regnum Christi as Societies of Apostolic Life.

The consecrated women share their spirituality with the rest of Regnum Christi but live it out in their own particular way. The global membership is about 600 women.

Heralds of the Gospel

The Heralds of the Gospel (Portuguese: Arautos do Evangelho; Latin: Evangelii Praecones, abbreviated to EP) is a Roman Catholic International Association of Pontifical Right based in Brazil. Founded by Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, the organization is active in 78 countries.

Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (Latin: Institutum Christi Regis Summi Sacerdotis, French: Institut du Christ Roi Souverain Prêtre) is a Roman Catholic society of apostolic life of pontifical right in communion with the Holy See of the Catholic Church. The institute has the stated goal of honoring God and the sanctification of priests in the service of the Catholic Church and souls. An integral part of the institute’s charism is the use of the traditional Latin liturgy of 1962 for Mass and the other sacraments. It has undertaken the restoration of a number of historic church buildings.

The institute's rule of life is based generally on that of the secular canons. The institute has its own choir dress, adopted in 2006, which was given to members by the (Cardinal) Archbishop of Florence. Its stated mission is the defense and propagation of the reign of Christ in all areas of human life, both private and social.

Institute of the Good Shepherd

The Institute of the Good Shepherd (French: Institut du Bon Pasteur, Latin: Institutum a Bono Pastore) is a Catholic society of apostolic life of traditionalist Catholic priests in full communion with the Holy See.

Master of novices

In the Roman Catholic Church, the master of novices or novice master is someone who is committed the training of the novices and the government of the novitiate of a religious institute.

Mission Society of the Philippines

The Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP) is a Society of Apostolic Life of the Latin Church of the Roman Catholic Church. It was established by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in 1965 as the official and chief missionary arm of Roman Catholicism in the Philippines, and received its pontifical right status on January 6, 2009 from the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (CEP).

The society works in twelve countries on five continents. It has missions in Asia in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea; in Oceania, in Papua-New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and Cook Islands; in Europe, in the Netherlands and in England; in the United States of America; and in South America, in Guyana.

Missionary Society of Saint Paul of Nigeria

The Missionary Society of Saint Paul of Nigeria (MSP) is a Latin Catholic Society of Apostolic Life of Diocesan Right, for Men, founded in and basically active in missions within Nigeria. Its headquarters are Kutunku, Gwagwalada, Abuja, F.C.T., Nigeria.

Oratory of Jesus

The Congregation of the Oratory of Jesus and Mary Immaculate (French: Société de l'Oratoire de Jésus et de Marie Immaculée, Latin: Congregatio Oratorii Iesu et Mariæ), best known as the French Oratory, is a Roman Catholic Society of apostolic life of Catholic priests founded in 1611 in Paris, France, by Pierre de Bérulle (1575–1629), later a cardinal of the Catholic Church. They are known as Bérullians or Oratorians. The French Oratory had a determinant influence on the French school of spirituality throughout the 17th century. It is separate and distinct from the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, which served as its inspiration.

The aim of the Society is to center spiritual life on the human aspect of Jesus, linked to the essence of God. Unlike the Italian Oratory, whose communities are all autonomous, the French Oratory operates under the central authority of a Superior General.

Oratory of Saint Philip Neri

The Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri is a pontifical society of apostolic life of Catholic priests and lay-brothers who live together in a community bound together by no formal vows but only with the bond of charity. They are commonly referred to as Oratorians (Oratorian Fathers). This "Congregation of the Oratory" should not be confused with the French Oratory, a distinct congregation, the Society of the Oratory of Jesus (Société de l'Oratoire de Jésus), founded by Pierre de Bérulle in 1611 in Paris.

Founded in Rome (then capital of the Papal States) in 1575 by St. Philip Neri, today it has spread around the world, with over 70 Oratories and some 500 priests. The post-nominal initials commonly used to identify members of the society are "C.O." (Congregatio Oratorii). The abbreviation "Cong. Orat." is also used.

Unlike a religious institute (the members of which take vows and are answerable to a central authority) or a monastery (the monks of which are likewise bound by vows in a community that may itself be autonomous and answerable directly to the Pope), the Oratorians are made up of members who commit themselves to membership in a particular, independent, self-governing local community (an Oratory, usually named for the place in which it is located: e.g., Birmingham Oratory, Oxford Oratory, Brooklyn Oratory) without actually taking vows, an unusual and innovative arrangement created by St. Philip. Normally an oratory must have a minimum of four members, two being ordained, in order to be founded. If a group of men seeks to establish an oratory, they may apply to do so, going through the proper diocesan channels; during the process of formation a member (or members) of a well-established oratory resides in the community to facilitate every aspect of the proposed foundation.

Paulist Fathers

The Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle, better known as the Paulist Fathers, is a Roman Catholic society of apostolic life for men founded in New York City in 1858 by Servant of God Isaac Thomas Hecker in collaboration with George Deshon, Augustine Hewit, and Francis A. Baker. Members of the society are Paulists, and identify themselves as such by the use of the initials C.S.P. after their names, for the Congregation of St. Paul. The Society's mission is to evangelize—preach the gospel or give information with the intention of converting people to Catholicism—the people of North America in a manner suited to the continent's culture.

Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter

The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (Latin: Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri; FSSP) is a traditionalist Catholic society of apostolic life for priests and seminarians which is in communion with the Holy See.

The society was founded in 1988 under the leadership of 12 priests who were formerly members of the Society of Saint Pius X, another traditionalist organization, but were unwilling to remain part of it following the Écône consecrations, which resulted in its bishops being excommunicated by the Holy See.

Headquartered in Switzerland, the society maintains two international seminaries: the International Seminary of St. Peter in Wigratzbad-Opfenbach, Bavaria, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska. The society is officially recognized by the Holy See and its priests celebrate Mass in locations in 124 worldwide dioceses.

Saint Joseph's Missionary Society of Mill Hill

Saint Joseph's Society for Foreign Missions, also called the Mill Hill Missionaries or Mill Hill Fathers, is a society of apostolic life of Catholic missionaries.

Sodalitium Christianae Vitae

Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV), or Sodalitium of Christian Life is a Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right, according to the Code of Canon Law which governs the Latin Rite branch of the Catholic Church. It was founded in Lima, Peru, by Luis Fernando Figari on 8 December 1971. It acquired its present canonical form when Pope John Paul II gave his Pontifical approval on 8 July 1997. The Sodalitium was the first male religious society in Peru to receive papal approval. By 1997 there were Sodalit communities in several countries.

The Sodalitium is composed of consecrated laymen and priests, called "Sodalits," who live in community as brothers, live the evangelical counsels through perpetual commitments of celibacy and obedience, as well as the communication of goods.Being recognised as a lay society of apostolic life of pontifical right, the Sodalitium is under the authority of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life of the Holy See. This is the first lay society of apostolic life to be recognised with Pontifical approval.

In 2003 there were accusations of brainwashing of young people, and of elitism, conservatism, and authoritarianism. Later there were allegations of sexual abuse by the founder Luis Fernando Figari. There were also detailed allegations about the founder's extreme right-wing and phalangist activism in his youth. Independent investigators commissioned by the Sodalitium reported that “Figari sexually assaulted at least one child, manipulated, sexually abused, or harmed several other young people; and physically or psychologically abused dozens of others.” Apart from the sexual abuse, it was also reported that Figari committed physical abuse, being described as “appearing to enjoy observing the younger aspirants and brothers experience pain, discomfort and fear.” On one occasion, he burned an individual with a candle, and menaced members by allowing his dog to bite them at times.The report also mentions that there are several other Sodalits who had physically or psychologically abused another Sodalit or a person in formation. These people are still in the community, though they have had "administrative actions taken against them and are receiving training."

On 30 January 2017, the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life ordered that Figari be “prohibited from contacting, in any way, persons belonging to the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, and no way have any direct personal contact with them.”.On 10 January 2018, it was announced that Pope Francis had appointed Bishop Noel Londoño Buitrago of the Diocese of Jericó, Colombia as papal commissioner. He will work alongside the papal delegate, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Diocese of Newark. Francis said that a verdict would be reached within a month, and was likely to be unfavourable to Figari. Tobin had found instances of sexual and psychological abuse, and financial irregularities.

White Fathers

The Missionaries of Africa, commonly known as the White Fathers or the Society of the Missionaries of Africa (French: Pères Blancs; post-nominals: M. Afr.) are a Roman Catholic society of apostolic life. Founded in 1868 by Archbishop of Algiers Cardinal Charles Lavigerie, the society focuses on evangelism and education, mostly in Africa. In 2009, the White Fathers numbered 1,769 perpetually vowed members and 354 students preparing to enter the society.


Yarumal is a municipality in the Antioquia Department, Colombia.

The municipality (3 parishes and 20 villages) has an area of 724 km², 35,315 inhabitants, and its average elevation is 2,265 m above sea level.

It has a minor basilica, Our Lady of Mercy, which is a parish church of architectural note.

It gave its name to the Yarumal Society for the Foreign Missions (M.X.Y./I.M.E.Y.), a Medellin-based Latin Catholic Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right for Men, which despite its name is especially active in Colombian missions.


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