What is the Difference
Are all religious orders, like the Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, or Sisters of Mercy, the same?
No. All religious orders have a unique founder or foundress and therefore have a unique charism or gift of the Holy Spirit for the Church. Even within an individual tradition, for example the Benedictines, each congregation has its own traditions, ministries, history, and constitutions which flavor the life of the members. There are 446 women's and 143 men's communities listed in the Catholic Directory, some of which have multiple provinces, and each has its own distinctive charism and lifestyle.