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