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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Nun And Religious Sister

Distinction between nun and religious sister

In the Roman Catholic Church, "nun" and "religious sister" have distinct meanings. Women belonging to orders like the Sisters of Charity, or 3rd order Franciscans or Dominicans are religious sisters, not nuns. Nuns and sisters are distinguished by the type of vows they take (solemn vow vs. simple vow) and the focus of their good works.
The type of vows that are taken are dependent on the Constitutions and/or rule of each community, which are submitted for approval to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life as required an organ Roman Curia upon the approval of the community as required by Pastor Bonus 108. The religious community of a nun is referred to as a "religious order" while the religious community of a sister is referred to as an "institute" or "congregation". Nun and sister are mutually exclusive religious paths.

To be a nun, one must
  • Live in a cloistered community or monastery;
  • Have taken the solemn vows of poverty, chastity and obedience (as opposed to the perpetual simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience taken by sisters); and
  • Recite the Liturgy of the Hours or other prayers together with her community.

Nuns are restricted from leaving the cloister, though some may engage in limited teaching or other vocational work depending on the strictness of enforcement. Visitors are not allowed into the monastery to freely associate with nuns. In essence, the work of a nun is within the confines of her monastery, while the work of a sister is in the greater world. Both sisters and nuns are addressed as "Sister".
In common usage however, "nun" can be used to mean both nuns and religious sisters (as defined by the Roman Catholic Church), with "cloistered nun" used to refer to those who live in cloistered communities.

Listing of Women's Order

Becoming a nun

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