Vocations - The Stages of Formation
In general it takes from four to five years of monastic formation for a man to become a monk for life. Our program of formation is inspired by St. Benedict's prescriptions in Chapter 58 of his Rule for Monasteries, "When anyone is newly come for the reformation of his life, let him not be granted an easy entrance; but, as the Apostle says, 'Test the spirits to see whether they are from God.'"
You start exploring a monastic vocation to Benedictine life by visiting our community and sharing in our prayer and work. You will have the assistance of our vocation director, Br. Paul-Vincent Niebauer OSB, and you will be remembered in our daily prayers.
This is a special time of listening: to God in prayer, to others in the advice they give you, and to your heart as you reflect on your experiences and your future. If you apply for admission to candidacy, the admissions committee will meet with you and determine whether you are ready to take the next step in your monastic vocation.
As a candidate, you will be invited to come for a three-month period to live, pray, and work in the community. If you decide that you want to continue your journey towards a monastic vocation, and the community decides you are suited to monastic life, you may ask to be accepted as a novice.
As a novice, you will live in the novitiate for a year of intensive formation of your monastic vocation, praying with the monks, and studying monastic spirituality and history and the Rule of Saint Benedict. You will also work at various tasks in housekeeping, in the retirement center, and in the abbey gardens, offices and shops. Saint Benedict writes that the concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God; that is, do you show eagerness for the work of God (community prayer), obedience, and for humble tasks of service? At the end of the novitiate year that usually begins in September, Father J.P. Earls OSB, Formation Director, and the community, will discern if you are ready to apply for temporary vows.
If you choose to make profession of first vows and are accepted by the community, you will continue to study and live monastic life for a minimum of three years as a "junior" monk. You will also begin to participate more fully in the work of the community, perhaps as a teacher, woodworker, librarian, computer specialist, or any number of other occupations. Throughout these years, you will grow in a deeper understanding of your commitment to the vows of obedience, stability, and conversion through a monastic way of life.
After three years of temporary profession, if you and the community decide that you are ready, you will make your final lifetime commitment of solemn vows to God and this monastery. As a "senior" monk, you will recommit yourself daily to your vows by your active participation in our life of prayer and work, so "that in all things God may be glorified."