WHAT IS A SECULAR INSTITUTE?
Secular Institutes are covered in canons 710-730 in the Code of Canon Law. "A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which Christ's faithful living in the world, strive for the perfection of charity and endeavour to contribute to the sanctification of the world, especially from within" (c. 710). Members make canonically binding vows of poverty, celibate chastity, and obedience, but live them "in the world" either as laypeople or diocesan priests. They follow a specific rule of life which must be approved by Rome. Secular institutes are especially well-suited for diocesan priests. In canon 278, 2 the Code says of secular priests: "They are to hold in high esteem those associations especially whose statutes are recognized by competent authority and which, by a suitable and well-tried rule of life and by fraternal support, promote holiness in the exercise of their ministry and foster the unity of the clergy with one another and with their bishop." More information is available at the U.S. Conference of Secular Institutes.