Admission and Formation

As Monks of St. Benedict's Abbey we welcome single Catholic men, generally between the ages of 19-50, who desire to seek God in the monastic life. Each case is evaluated on its own merits. The formation process occurs in stages known as Postulancy, Novitiate and Temporary Profession. These stages allow for the gradual incorporation into life as a Benedictine Monk. Below are some starter ideas about our formation process. 

The Postulant

After some communication with the Vocation Director and visiting with us here at Benet Lake, you may decide to test your call to the monastic religious life. If this is the case, you may request to "try on" this way of life. As a postulant, the name given to a newcomer, you move into the Abbey and share in the prayer, work, and study of the community. The postulancy period may last up to six months and during this time a simple black tunic is worn.

The Novice

This period lasts one year and includes in-depth study of; the Rule of St. Benedict; the vows which connect us to the Benedictine way of life; Lectio Divina the reading of Sacred Scripture which is the basis of prayer for the monk; and also periods of work and silence. During this initial year of formation both you and the monastic community seek to discern if you are called to live as a monk at Benet Lake. All through your initial period of formation the community will help you evaluate your desire to live as a monk as well as your fitness for Benedictine monastic life. St. Benedict wrote that when accepting a novice the concern must be whether he truly seeks God and whether he shows eagerness for the Opus Dei-the "Work of God," and for obedience and trials (RB 58.7). As a novice you add the black novice scapular to your tunic.

The Temporarily Professed

Following the year as a novice you publicly profess for a period of three years the vows of obedience, stability and conversion of life. This last vow encompasses the other traditional vows of poverty and chastity. During this three-year period, which can be extended to six years if it seems advisable, you live as a member of the community participating in its life and mission. You may be involved in some type of work or study suitable to your interests, abilities and the needs of the community as will be discussed with you by the Abbot. This time of initial formation continues your discernment that leads toward solemn, perpetual profession of monastic vows. At temporary or simple profession the novice scapular is replaced by the full-length black scapular.

Solemn Profession of Vows:

After your period of initial formation you may request profession of solemn vows. Your request must receive a positive vote of the monastic chapter. Solemn profession celebrates what you have already been living-to seek God everyday of your life within the monastic tradition. This is your lifelong commitment to give yourself to Christ and His Gospel in this local community under the guidance of the Rule and the Abbot. At solemn profession you receive the black cuculla that is a sign and symbol of a senior monk.

Ordination To The Priesthood

A monk's primary vocation is to live the monastic life. All monks share an equal involvement and responsibility for the prayer and work of the Abbey. The monastic life may include a vocation to the priesthood with its primary focus on the needs of the monks and retreatants who come to St. Benedict's. With the permission of the Abbot a monk may begin study for the priesthood. After solemn profession of vows you will move closer to receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders.

There is A Place for You

Single Catholic men who want to live the monastic life with its vows of total dedication to God are invited to contact the vocation director to set up a visit to our Abbey. Words on paper cannot adequately convey a sense of what our monastic life is like. A visit is helpful and necessary just as it was when Jesus invited two of His future Apostles to visit His lodging when He told them: "Come and see?."

For more information...

Br. Michael O'Brien, O.S.B
St. Benedict's Abbey
12605 224th Avenue
Benet Lake, WI 53102
888-482-1044 ext: 114
e-mail: vocations@benetlake.org