Catholic Classroom: How Religious Orders Support Themselves
Question: How do religious orders support themselves, and what can I do to help?
People who enter religious orders make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The vow of poverty does not mean that religious live in destitution, but that they live simply and own everything in common rather than individually. Just like everyone else, religious need money for basic living expenses. Many orders support themselves by making and selling products. You can do your part by purchasing their wares. These products make wonderful (and holy!) Christmas gifts.
Here are some unique products made by religious communities to support themselves:
The Trappists monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky make delicious varieties of fudge and fruitcake, as well as cookies and preserves. The community, whose motto is “Ora et labora,” has been in Kentucky since 1848.
Following the Trappist tradition of making delicious food, the Trappist community in New York bakes homestyle breads to support their monastic life.
What’s better than chocolate? Chocolate made by pun-loving nuns. Senior members of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities contribute to their congregation by making chocolate barks and candies.
The Trappist nuns of the Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Virginia make delicious gouda cheese that is available by mail order. The nuns have been making cheese since 1990.
In 2007, Carmelite monks in Wyoming began roasting coffee to support themselves, and Mystic Monk Coffee was born. Today, the monks sell several unique coffee blends.
If you are looking for rosary beads made with prayer and love, look no further than the Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R. of Penance of the Sorrowful Mother. Their beautiful beads come with the promise of the sisters’ prayers.
The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration live a monastic life centered on Christ in the Eucharist. They support this lifestyle by making specialty soaps and lotions.
If you are a book lover, then you’ll love Pauline Books and Media, a ministry of the Daughters of St. Paul. They publish Catholic books and other media and run Catholic bookstores in the United States and Canada.