A Secular Institute is another type of consecrated life. Depending upon the institute’s way of life, priests, single men and women and married couples may become members. Secular institutes were officially recognized by the church as an original form of consecrated life in 1947. Members have the special mission to live “in the world” while working toward their sanctification. They do profess public vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. However, the living out of these vows is different from those in religious life because of their way of life.
Members of secular institutes exercise a powerful witness, endeavoring to bring Christ to every aspect of their lives- family, work, leisure, etc. Each secular institute has a particular charism or spirit just like religious communities do. Members go through a period of formation before professing vows and meet periodically with other members throughout the year. Most live alone and provide their own health insurance, support themselves through work and save for retirement.
For more information, check out the United States Conference of Secular Institutes’ website www.secularinstitutes.org as well as the World Conference of Secular Institutes.