Society of apostolic life

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St. Philip Neri can be considered the father of Societies 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. Unlike members of an institute of consecrated life (religious institute or secular institute), members of apostolic societies do not make religious vows. This type of organisation is defined in the Code of Canon Law under canons 731-755. 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.

While members of apostolic societies have some community life, the mission of the community is given emphasis; with the exception of the Oratorians, members can be re-assigned 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.

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.

Societies of Apostolic Life[edit]

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