Talk to a religious and you will find a person who has found their heart’s desire. To be a religious is to be drawn into a love affair with God and to want to do great things for God. Religious live a community life, a life of prayer and a life in the service of others. They can be found in every walk of life: teachers, contemplatives, counsellors, prophets on the margins, prisons… The list is as large as the needs of our world. Religious communities have a founder whose spirit they continue to live out, adapting that spirit to the needs of our contemporary world. At the heart of religious life are the vows or promises made – usually poverty, chastity and obedience. These promises are the outward sign of an inward, joyful offering of themselves to God and his call to uncover and celebrate a world that Jesus has already set in motion.
Religious Life is a vocation. It offers a way of life, blessed and authorised by the Church for men and women who wish to dedicate their lives completely to a deepening relationship with God and to the mission of Jesus among the People of God. There are many Congregations and Orders of Religious Life within the Church: Contemplative Orders, Monastic Orders, Apostolic Congregations and Secular institutes to name just a few. Over the centuries, expressions of Religious Life have emerged in response to contemporary situations.
At the core of Religious Life are vows or promises - usually of chastity, poverty and obedience - prayer and a commitment to some form of community living and service.
To view the Catholic Catechism's definition of religious life please click HERE>
Religious Life in the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst
In addition to the Diocesan Clergy, the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst has been blessed with the presence and ministry of many congregations of religious men and women since its beginnings in 1865. These orders and congregations established and ran Catholic institutions providing education, health and social welfare. Most of their members were originally from Ireland and France, then from local parishes across the Diocese.
- Brigidines (education)
- Carmelites of Mary Immaculate (priests in parishes)
- Daughters of Charity (education and orphanage)
- De la Salle Brothers (education)
- Dominican Sisters (education and boarding school)
- Jesuits (spirituality and social justice)
- Josephite Sisters (education and boarding schools)
- Missionaries of Charity (outreach to marginalised people)
- Patrician brothers (education and orphanage)
- Sisters of Charity (hospital and nurse education)
- Sisters of Mercy (from 1866 education, boarding schools, orphanages)
- Vincentian Priests and Brothers (education and boarding school)
Some young men and women from the Diocese of Bathurst also joined Religious Orders in other parts of Australia such as the Contemplative Carmelites, Cabrini Sisters, Daughters of Charity and Jesuits. All of them are committed to the Catholic faith and to social justice values expressed according to the needs of the time.
After the second Vatican Council, Catholic Institutions in the Diocese began to be handed over to the laity and the work of Religious in the Diocese of Bathurst diversified and expanded to other parts of Australia and the world. Some aspects of the lifestyle of Religious also changed at this time such as wearing the habit and residence.