Societies of Apostolic Life
A Society of Apostolic Life refers to a group of people who have a particular purpose. According to Can. 731 §1 of the Code of Canon Law, members of Societies of Apostolic Life
resemble institutes of consecrated life; their members, without religious vows, pursue the apostolic purpose proper to the society and, leading a life in common as brothers or sisters according to their proper manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions.
But members of Societies of Apostolic Life are distinct from members of institutes of consecrated life in that they do not take vows and that their communities are governed by the constitutions of the particular Society. Accordingly, Canon Law does not address in detail governance of a Society or life within it. .
The Canon names the primary purpose of a Society of Apostolic Life: pursuit of the specific apostolic purpose. In other words, life in community, although desirable, is subordinated to the purpose of the Society.
Sharon L. Holland, IHM categorizess the two Societies founded by Vincent de Paul, the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity as having belonging to a group of Societies founded in the 16th and 17th century to respond to increasing poverty in France. Sr Holland writes that, for the Daughters of Charity, this was a way of making possible "greater flexibility of life... than would have been possible in relgious life at the time" and thus allowing the Daughters to have, in the words of Vincent, "as their monastery, the houses of the poor; as their cell, a rented room; as their chapel, their parish church; and as their cloister, the streets of the city."
Notes and References
Societies of Apostolic Life by Barry Fischer, CPPS. Reflection on Society of Apostolic Life for Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood.