Religious Orders, Denominations, Groups, etc.
both within and outside of the Catholic Church
by Felix Just, S.J.
[Note: This page is still under construction.]
Introduction and Definitions:
Within the Roman Catholic Church today there are literally thousands of different religious "orders," "congregations," "institutes," "societies," and other groups officially recognized by the Church, not to mention many other local and/or unofficial communities of believers. In contemporary Christianity outside of the Catholic Church there are also thousands of other "churches" or "denominations" or variously-named groups of Christians, some world-wide and quite large, others very small in number and geographically limited. Moreover, throughout the 2000-year history of Christianity there have been a large number of other "sects" or "heresies" or other groups of Christians, many of which eventually died out, although some still exist today.
The names used for all of these groups, both within and outside of the Catholic Church, have various origins: a founder's name, a geographical location, a theological emphasis, etc. So anyone unfamiliar with Christianity will have a hard time knowing or even guessing whether a particular group is within the Catholic Church, or another Christian denomination, or a "heresy" of the past. Who are or were the Augustinians, Adventists, or Albigensians? the Benedictines, Baptists, or Basilidians? the Dominicans, Davidians, or Donatists? the Jesuits, Jehovah's Witnesses, or Jacobites? the Marianists, Methodists, or Montanists? etc.
"Religious Life" in the Catholic Church:
Some of the oldest and largest groups of clergy and/or lay people within the Roman Catholic Church are the so-called "Religious Orders"; yet there are many other officially recognized groups called "congregations" or "institutes" or "societies" or "communities." The members of these groups might be clergy (priests), religious (brothers and sisters), and/or laity (lay men & women). The groups have various designations for their leaders, members, and/or associates.
Many different descriptive terms are used for these groups, with much overlap:
Religious Orders and Congregations in the Catholic Church: some of the oldest/largest, and some of the most recent and/or American ones
|Popular Name||Official Name||Abbr.||Founder [or Namesake]||Founding Date/Place||Emphases/Highlights|
|Order of St. Benedict||O.S.B.||St. Benedict of Nursia||529 / Montecassino||large monasteries; liturgy; music; books|
|Carthusians||Order of Carthusians||O.Cart.||St. Bruno||1084 / Chartreuse, France||hermetic (live in isolation & silence)|
|Cistercians||Order of Cistercians||O.Cist.||St. Bernard of Clairvaux||1098 / France||rural monasteries; agriculture|
|Franciscans||Order of Friars Minor||O.F.M.||St. Francis of Assisi||1209 / Assisi, Italy||service of the poor; peace & justice|
|Dominicans||Order of Preachers||O.P.||St. Dominic Guzman||1216 / Spain||preaching; philosophy & theology|
|Augustinians||Order of St. Augustine||O.S.A.||[St. Augustine of Hippo]||1244 / Tuscany, Italy||almsgiving; hospitality; "Black Canons"|
|Jesuits||Society of Jesus||S.J.||St. Ignatius of Loyola||1540 / Rome||education; missions; spirituality|
|Trappists||Order of Cistercians
of the Strict Observance
|O.C.S.O.||Armand-Jean de Rancé||1664 / La Trappe, France||Thomas Merton|
|Redemptorists||Congregation of the
Most Holy Redeemer
|C.SS.R.||St. Alphonsus Liguori||1732 / France||rebuilding post-Revolution Church|
|Sisters of Charity||Sisters of Charity||S.C.||St. Elizabeth Ann Seton||1805 / Maryland||schools; hospitals; first U.S. women's cong.|
|Sisters of Charity
|Sisters of Charity
|S.C.N.||Catherine Spalding||1824 / Kentucky||teaching; medical care of Civil War soldiers|
Fathers & Brothers
|Congregation of Holy Cross||C.S.C.||Basil Moreau||1837 / France||University of Notre Dame|
|Salesians||Salesians of Don Bosco||S.D.B.||St. John Bosco||1854 / Turin, Italy||education of urban youth|
|Paulists||Congregation of St. Paul||C.S.P.||Isaac Hecker (1819-88)||1858 / New York||ecumenism; publications|
|Legionaries of Christ||Congregation of the L.of C.||L.C.||Marcial Maciel||1941 / Mexico||fidelty to Christ, Mary, and the Church|
|Missionaries of Charity||Congregation of the M.of C.||M.C.||Mother Teresa of Calcutta||1950 / India||service to the destitute & dying|
|Knights of Malta, or
|Knights of St. John
|.||.||ca. 1100||providing hospitality & medical care
to Holy Land pilgrims
|Templars||Knights of the Temple||.||.||1118 / Jerusalem||protecting Holy Land pilgrims|
Note: there are dozens of offshoots of some of these groups; hundreds of other congregations of men; literally thousands more of women; and many "new" forms, incl. lay & ecumenical communities.
See these linked websites that give partial lists by name and by abbreviation.
Christian Churches and Denominations outside of the Catholic Church: