These vows are publicly taken by individuals after a required period of formation.
A minimum of three vows are involved, but some groups have a fourth vow that some members or all members take (for example the Order of Saint Benedict and the Society of Jesus).
The three basic vows centre on poverty, chastity and obedience, even if different terms are sometime used in describing them.
To take these formal vows in a way that is officially recognised by the Church, a person must be a member of a religious order, society or congregation that has been approved by the Church to accept candidates and to administer these vows.
The taking of these vows offers a person a form of life recognised and supported by the Church.
By these vows, a person is enrolled in what is called "Religious Life", a stable form of living within a defined style of religious community.
Each of these three basic vows is discussed in more detail on the following pages of Augnet: poverty, chastity and obedience.