Becoming a Monk

Perhaps God is calling you to offer yourself to Him in the Benedictine way of life. The cornerstone of a Religious vocation is the desire to give oneself to God, to draw near to Him and become more and more consistently His. If this desire grows and persists, it must lead to practical attempts to reshape one’s whole life. This reshaping follows from a sure conviction that Christ has removed the essential barrier between God and us. Only from such a conviction can we grapple with our faults and temptations.

St. Benedict laid down four spiritual requirements for an aspirant: 1) that he be truly seeking God; 2) that he be eager for the “Work of God,” the Divine Office; 3) that he be eager for obedience; and 4) that he welcome the humiliations (necessary because of our egoism) that comes in its exercise. In addition we require that the aspirant: be a communicant of the Episcopal Church in good standing; be free from debt*, marital or other contractual obligation; furnish medical, optical, and dental certificates showing good health; have, in most cases, at least two years of college level study or service or work experience of some kind behind him; and normally be at least 21 years of age, but not over 50. We also require that the aspirant spend at least two weeks in the Abbey’s Vocation Program before any decision is taken. (*If you have unpaid student loans, please do not let that be a deterrent to pursuing a monastic vocation; let us know, and we will look at strategies for taking care of them.)

Committing to monastic life might seem daunting, but it is a process of five and a half years before one makes final vows. If one is accepted into the community, he is a postulant for approximately six months and after that a novice for approximately two years. Then, with the approval of the senior members of the community, he may make temporary vows for a period of at least three years until, by mutual agreement between him and the seniors, perpetual vows bind him to the monastery for life.

The Abbey has a vocation program for men between the ages of 18 and 50, the upper age limit being approximate. The purpose of this program is to enable these men to discover more about their vocations in the Church and the world as a fulfillment of their baptismal vows in a monastic setting. Applicants must stay at least two weeks. Any who wish to visit the Abbey but who cannot stay this length of time may contact the Guestmaster and arrange a visit as a guest, not as a vocationer. The program runs from July 1 – 31. It is highly recommended that persons with interest in monastic vocation come to the program in July, but if a person is unable to attend in July, he may contact the novicemaster for an individual vocation program (with a minimum stay of at least two weeks.)

The first requirement of one interested in the program is a letter explaining something of his sense of vocation or giving reasons for wanting to spend time at the Abbey. He is then sent an application form which requests certain information and provides space for the name and address someone who knows the applicant well and would be willing to fill out a reference form. If there are any health or dietary limitations, a medical statement is required. A $25 registration fee must be sent with the completed application to reserve a place in the program.

In general, each applicant may suggest the dates for his visit. Those who apply early enough will be able to have the dates they wish; those who apply later may have to alter their arrival or departure dates. The departure date can be an estimate; the participant may want to stay longer than he first intended, and this will be permitted as long as there is room.

The vocationer should bring work clothes for inside and out and a black cassock if he has one. The monks encourage simplicity of life and do not encourage unnecessary expenditures. Work will vary from domestic chores and outside labor to more specialized projects such as sacristy work or clerical assignments. There is no pay for such work, but neither is there any expense for lodging or board.

The vocationers’ daily schedule is modeled on that of the monks and includes times of liturgical prayer, private prayer, work recreation, study and classes. Each vocationer will have conferences with the monk who directs the program, such conferences covering any subjects which both feel relate to his vocation and future, and concerning as well the difficulties of living in such a close-knit group. The training gained in this last area often proves invaluable.

The Abbey requests that each vocationer be willing to follow generously the simple way of life provided. After his participation in the program has ended, he has no more obligation to the Abbey. But while he is here he should realize that the rules of the program are binding.

Address all inquiries about dates and other matters concerning the program to the Vocation Director:

Finally, and in summary:
1. One does not select a vocation for oneself; one tries to find God’s selection for him.
2. Faithfulness to daily duties and charity in the common life are the basis for all vocations.


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Listen … incline the ear of your heart

If you are thinking about becoming a monk or are wondering what it feels like to be a monk, then … come for a vocational visit to St. Gregory’s Abbey:

  • Worship & Pray
  • Work & Learn
  • with the monks

… if you are male, age 18 to 50, and if you can spend two weeks (or more) at the abbey. The only cost is $25 for registration.

For more information and an application form, contact:
Summer Program Director
St. Gregory’s Abbey
56500 Abbey Road
Three Rivers, MI 49093
(269) 244-5893
E-mail the Novice Master