Listed below are the most frequently asked questions of our Vocation office. We will update these as more questions are asked:

 

Can I become a monk if I have debts?

YES!

First, a man must be free of all personal and credit card debts by the time he enters as a candidate to the monastery. The “educational” debt is a separate matter.

When men approach us and they let us know they have BOTH credit card debt and educational debt, we work with them to find a solution. We do this by reminding the men to pay ONLY the minimum on the educational debts, but work to put every available dollar to paying off the credit card debt. We will even provide a member of our staff whose is trained in accounting to help you establish a budget. Tackle the credit cards first!

Once the man has that credit card and personal debt paid, he can then begin looking at applying to our community. With the Abbot’s approval, we will consider allowing a man to apply who has “educational” debts requiring repayment of government education grants and loans. If these are excessive and beyond $50,000, then we will ask a man to first repay a substantial portion of the educational debts before we allow him to apply.  If it is below $50,000, then we will allow him to apply. If he is accepted, when he does arrive we would assume the minimum monthly payments while the man is in formation. If he leaves formation, then he also takes the debts with him.

As for men who have automobile debts, you can still apply but you will need to sell your car upon entering the community so that the car loan is paid off. This is common with most all of our applicants.

So, if you have debts, then don’t let that hinder you in your discernment. Contact us, visit us, and don’t let the burden of debt overwhelm your vocational call.

What are your age requirements?

You must be a single, Catholic man between the ages of 20-50. If you are between 18 and 20, then you can come for a vocation visit, but you must be 20 by the time you apply. We prefer a man to have either worked for a few years or completed some college before entering the monastery after high school. Likewise, those who are older often find it more difficult to modify and change their way of living which is why the age of 50 for the ceiling. We occasionally make exceptions for the upper age if a person has already completed training for the priesthood, has lived here before as an alumnus of the Academy, or has been living in another religious community and is already accustomed to community life.

What is required to apply?

There is a five-step process for applying to the Abbey that is almost identical to applying for diocesan priesthood. However, this process presumes that you have already visited the Abbey for several visits prior to applying, and that you fulfill the prerequisites outlined in our FAQ’s :

First, you must be interviewed by four of our monks. This can be accomplished in a regular visit to our monastery.

Having completed those interviews and receiving the Abbot’s approval, you would then fill out an application form that asks basic questions relating to your life, education, experience, etc.

Thirdly, you would be asked to provide medical, eye and dental examination results, along with basic sacramental records and educational transcripts from high school and college.

Fourthly, you would be asked to provide at least six letters of character references from people who know you. These can be family members, work colleagues, parish leaders, priests and deacons, or seminary and college professors.

Finally, you would need to complete a psychological assessment that we will pay for. This is completed by using the psychologist that is used by your local diocese for their applicants for priesthood. If you have already completed this for another diocese or religious community, then we will accept those results.

Most men find that if they are committed and dedicated, then they can complete the entire application process in one month.

How long does it take to become a monk?

Men come for a candidacy of six months. During that time, they live in the monastery and obtain more experience of our way of life before becoming a novice. They will attend classes, live, work and pray with the other monks.  After that, a person begins the novitiate, which lasts a year and a day. A novice is an individual who is a member of the community and is in the process of formation in becoming a monk. At the end of that year, the novices become junior monks by making temporary vows for three years. Although a person may extend the time of temporary vows, junior monks often make solemn vows at the end of three years and so become full-fledged monks of the monastery.  So, the minimum time before solemn profession is about four and a half years

On what dates during the year do you accept men?

We accept men on two dates in the year:  February 2nd and September 8th. This means that the application process MUST be completed at least one month before the entrance date so we can notify the man of acceptance or rejection.

How many monks are at Subiaco?

We have forty monks: 35 solemnly professed and  five Juniors. Additionally, we have four novices and one candidate.

Can I become a monk before becoming Catholic?

Not immediately. Your first step is to approach your Priest and discuss with him how to begin the RCIA process at your local parish. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is known as RCIA. Once you have become Catholic or come into full communion with the Church, you should then begin involving yourself in parish life. In these first two years after becoming Catholic, the Church refers to you as a neophyte…a new Catholic! During these two years, visit our Abbey and become involved here to learn if God is truly calling you to the monastic life. At the end of those two years you would be free to apply for entrance to our monastery.

Can I become a monk if I am already a diocesan priest?

Yes. Two of our present monks were previously diocesan priests. As they will tell you, the process is not easy and requires careful planning because Bishops are not always as open to the Church’s clear preference for priests to enter monastic life.

First, if you feel you have a monastic calling then you need to just come here for a private retreat to get to know our Abbey. If it becomes clear in your retreat that this is not your calling, then you have lost nothing.

However, if you do think that this is where God is calling you, then you will need to speak with your Bishop or Religious Superior. They must grant you permission to undertake a deeper exploration of this life by allowing you to make a more extensive vocation discernment stay of a week or so over a period of two or three stays. If you still feel that this is your calling, then you will have to apply to your Bishop or Superior for permission to apply to our monastery. If you are accepted for candidacy, then your Bishop or Superior will have to grant you a leave of absence to begin formation. You will still be incardinated in that diocese or religious community until you make solemn profession as a monk in our Abbey.

For most men, the time from that initial visit to entrance into candidacy is about two years. Once you begin formation as a monk, you will no longer function as a priest until the completion of your novitiate. You may concelebrate at masses, but all other priestly work will cease as you first get formed as a monk. Fr. Elijah would be happy to speak with you further since he has most recently trod this path from diocesan to monastic life.  

Can I become a monk if I am divorced?

Yes, but some steps must first be completed. You can only apply to our monastery after you have received a declaration of nullity from the Church. Please speak with your parish priest about this process. Likewise, you must have fulfilled all obligations for any children resulting from the prior marriage and this includes alimony and child support payments. Once this has occurred, then we would be honored to consider your application.

Can I become a monk if I left the seminary?

It depends on why you left or were asked to leave.

If you left because you discerned that you were not called to the sometimes solitary diocesan life and wanted a life lived in community instead, then you really should consider monastic life. If you left because you did not feel called to use your skills solely within parish life but wanted other ministry options, then you really should consider monastic life. If you left because you are an introvert and did not like the constant “on-demand” life of a parish priest, then you really should consider monastic with its balance of introverts and extroverts. If you left because you wanted more of a balance in prayer and work in your life, then you really should consider monastic life. If you were asked to leave for issues such as tardiness and no structure in your life (for which we Benedictines provide this via our very structured life), then you really should consider monastic life. If you were aked to leave because you chose to spend more time in prayer or before the Blessed Sacrament than in school work (for which we Benedictines address because we decidely balance prayer and work), then you really should consider monastic life.

All of these reasons are not points of failure, but rather points of discernment that you were simply not called by God to diocesan life. It’s important to understand that we don’t have lower standards than diocesan life (you will note that both our brothers and priests usually have extensive advanced degrees or are professional artisans at their crafts or trades), we simply have different standards that more closely allign with monastic life.

If you were asked to leave for psychological or sexual reasons, then community life in probably not for you. This may seem strange, but monastic life does not help you escape from those issues. In fact, those issues become even more intense with monastic life because of the particular nature of our lifestyle. Instead, we would encourage you to begin to professionally address those issues in your life.

Can I stay a Protestant and still be a monk?

Yes, but just not at our Abbey. We are a Benedictine Abbey in union with the Roman Catholic Church. There are a few Protestant Abbeys of men and women that you can research by clicking HERE.

If I smoke, can I become a monk?

Yes, but you will have to stop smoking by the time you enter the formation program.

Can a monk watch movies?

Heavens, yes! We watch movies every week in our movie room from movies we rent. The younger monks also go regularly to Fort Smith to watch the newer movies in the large movie theaters.

Can a monk call his family and friends?

Absolutely! Once a man first enters as a candidate or novice, he will share a phone with his brothers. He will be assigned a phone pass code which he uses to make phone calls. He can call out whenever he wants and he is given that common phone number to receive calls. Once a man makes his profession and moves into the main monk living quarters, then he will have a private phone in his room.

Can a monk listen to music?

Absolutely! Our monks listen to Classical, Country-Western, Bluegrass, Rap, Classic Rock, Indie music, Eastern and Western Chant, Jazz, and the Blues. Most of our younger monks have an ipod or mp3 player for listening to their music.

Can a monk’s family visit him?

Absolutely! Depending on the availability of rooms at our Retreat Center, the family members of a monk can come visit anytime they want. Some of our monks have family that already live in the immediate area, so they try to visit their family once or twice a week.

Do monks get vacation time?

Yes. Every monk gets two weeks per year that he can spend visiting friends and relatives. Some monks take the full two weeks at one time, while others space their vacation days throughout the year.

Will I need medical insurance during my candidacy and novitiate?

No. Once you are accepted into our candidacy program, you will have medical, dental and eye insurance provided just like the monks.