Imagine that there is a Catholic monk, who is also a full-stack developer, who, after much thinking wants to set up a religious order for clergymen who code. We have heard of clergymen (monks, priests) who are professors of various academic subjects, such as history and quantum physics. But I haven't heard of a particular religious order of clergymen who are collectively historians, scholars, etc.

Is he qualified by Church law to set up a religious order? If yes, is he allowed to define in that religious order that the people signing up in there have to be/train to become developers? If yes, what are the requirements for setting up such religious order?



2 Answers 2


Monica, generally speaking, there is are typical pathways under which a person who wanted to set up a community of like minded individuals could do so and get some sort of ecclesiastical recognition for the community. The way it would be most likely to happen would be that the person recruits others to join his community, then seeks ecclesiastical recognition for that community. There is no reason that a "monk" could not do this, but it would be more likely to be someone who is not already a monk, as a monk is a man who is already part of an established community. The title "monk" is typically used for a person who is not ordained, and while he might be able to recruit to his proposed community people who already are, it is more likely than not that there would be unlikely to be "clergymen" among them, as clergymen are already ordained, and it is not common for ordained people to come under the authority of a lay person in ecclesiastical affairs.

The exact process and procedure by which such a group would be set up would depend upon a number of factors. A small group operating in one place might be able to set up such a community with the permission and oversight of the local bishop. A national group with several communities in different places within the same country might need the permission and oversight of the appropriate National council of bishops; an international community, with communities widely distributed around the globe might need the permission and oversight of the appropriate office of the curia. The exact procedures to be followed might depend upon the size of the group.

I suspect that someone who is highly motivated, and dedicated to setting up such a group as you propose could do so, by recruiting members, and working with the appropriate offices of the church. In fact, if I remember correctly, some years ago, I happened across the website of a monastery (operating under the Fransiscan rule, in Arizona, US, if I recall correctly) whose members supported themselves and the mission of the monastery by doing internet work. At the time their website was recruiting members with skills in several areas related to internet page design and creation. Regrettably, I no longer remember the exact name of the monastery, but one particular characteristic I remember of the monastic website was that the name of the title of the brother who was responsible for running the website was "webservant", rather than the then more common "webmaster".


First you must understand that a religious order is exactly like an "enterprise" in the sense of a group of people teaming together toward some goal.

All communities started as "startups", i.e. the founder, maybe a co-founder, a few early members and some advisors. They try to adress a problem, for ex. a social problem. Nobody believes in them at first, and a lot of young communities dies early. If they grow, they'll either seek recognition or be asked to establish rules and get "registered". Usually with the local bishop, but sometimes up to the Pope if they want to special statuses.

Examples :

  • Francis of Assisi as a founder, who "was soon joined by his first follower (...) Bernardo di Quintavalle, who contributed all that he had to the work. Within a year Francis had eleven followers" (from wikipedia)
  • Don Bosco, his mother as his first follower, Don Calasso as a mentor

Back to original question, it's frequent for a monk/sister to establish a new order. Usually, such a monk already wants to dedicate his life to God and enters the closest order he feels attracted to, and may then realize that he is looking for something a bit different or encounter a situation whom he/she feels need to be adressed more urgently. He/She will then ask for guidance, then permission to leave the existing community to try starting a new one.

An example is Mother Teresa, which was initially a member of The Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, serving as a teacher. But after being assigned to India, "she was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta" (wikipedia) She asked permission, and upon careful examination, was allowed by her superiors to quit the Convent and live with the poors. She then founded the Missionaries of Charity.

As for developpers, if they want to serve their human brother and sisters this way and shows some fruits, why not ? It would be totally acceptable.

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