“The evangelical counsels of chastity dedicated to God, poverty and obedience are based upon the words and examples of the Lord. They were further commanded by the apostles and Fathers of the Church, as well as by the doctors and pastors of souls. … Thus it has come about, that, as if on a tree which has grown in the field of the Lord, various forms of solidarity and community life, as well as various religious families have branched out in a marvelous and multiple way from this divinely given seed. … [T]he religious state of life is not an intermediate state between the clerical and lay states. But, rather, the faithful of Christ are called by God from both these states of life so that they might enjoy this particular gift in the life of the Church and thus each in one’s own way, may be of some advantage to the salvific mission of the Church.”
~ from Lumen Gentium, paragraph 43
Archdiocese of Chicago Vocations Office
Sr. Peter Mary Hettling, CSJ, Director
155 E. Superior
Chicago, IL 60611
Open to married or single, Catholic women and men, from all walks of life, lay Orders (also known as third, secular, or tertiary Orders) provide a way for laity to associate with religious Orders while living in the world.
“Third Orders signify in general lay members of religious Orders, i.e. men and women who do not necessarily live in community and yet can claim to wear the habit and participate in the good works of some great Order. … Any Catholic may join a Third Order, but may not at once belong to more than one, nor may he without grave cause leave one for another.”
~ from New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: Third Orders
Information on the wide variety of Roman Catholic lay vocations, with links to various orders.