The Conference of Religious was established in 1959. It was originally known as the Council of Major Religious Superiors and there were two 'sections', the men's section and the women's section. In 1979 the first joint AGM took place in Swanwick in Derbyshire and since then has been one Conference.

The Secretariat was originally a house in Clapham. Fr Volery MSFS was the first Secretary.

By 1977 the membership had grown considerably so the Secretariat moved to London SW1 with joint secretaries Fr Pius OFM Cap and Sr Gertrude Andrew DC.

The Secretariat moved again in 1979 to London W1 with an increase in staffing to cope with the development which had taken place during the period, for example the two sections joining together to form one Conference and the numerous contacts which had been established.

The Secretariat moved to premises at the Missionary Institute of London in Mill Hill 2001, and spent six happy years there. Due to the closure of the MIL in 2007 the staff relocated to a house in Ealing in the grounds of the Abbey.

The Secretariat is responsible for the dissemination of information regarding matters related to or relevant to religious life in the 21st Century, through newsletters, workshops, residential and day meetings and the provision of resource materials.

The Secretariat deals with the regular communication to membership and the organisation of the conferences and other meetings. It also has the responsibility to pass on information from Rome and the Bishops' Conference.

The membership of the Conference of Religious comprises the Leaders of the Catholic Religious Orders together with Associate members i.e., Anglican Religious Orders and Secular Institutes.

There are Regional Meetings organised and hosted by the members. The topics of these meetings are linked with the Annual General Meetings.