Monastic Associates Program
The Saint John’s Abbey Monastic Associates Program recognizes the interest and needs of young men who want to explore Benedictine community living more intensely, but are not yet ready to make a lifetime commitment to a monastic vocation. The program enables young adults to consider monastic life while experiencing it fully for a well-defined period of time. Participants pray with the community, have the opportunity for learning about the monastic tradition, developing a taste for prayer and reading scripture in a reflective way, and use their skills for work and leadership.
Becoming a Monastic Associate is no small commitment. Associates live within the community and participate as much as possible without assuming full monastic identity. As such, Monastic Associate candidates undergo serious examination of intention and capacity to live with the Saint John's community. Associates are not guests of the Abbey, but assume a role and responsibility to the Saint John's community, within the abbey and out, and their behavior must reflect this relationship.
If you are interested in the Monastic Associates Program, the outline below will provide you with further details.
The Vocation Director and Sub Prior serve as the immediate superiors of the Monastic Associates.
Participants must exhibit an interest in sharing the prayer, work and life of the monastery, though not intended as a permanent commitment.
Participants will have paying jobs on or off campus, or be assigned work for the Abbey.
Participants will participate in the horarium of the monastery including table service, housekeeping service, and liturgical service as they are able.
Participants will work for, or pay for, room and board in the monastery (3rd Quad).
Participants will receive weekly instruction in the Benedictine life, and receive spiritual direction.
Participants will join the formation floor for common lectio twice a week.
Classes will be held after evening prayer up to 4 times a week (typically M-TR) for one hour. Associates will be meeting with a number of monks from our community as well as visiting monks.
The Rule of Benedict is the primary source of study and will be used with various commentaries including:
The Benedictine Handbook,
Prayer and Community: The Benedictine Tradition, by Fr. Columba Stewart O.S.B.
Seeking God: The Way of Saint Benedict, by Esther de Waal
Participation in the program is renewable semi-annually for up to 3 years.
The Vocation Director, Formation Director and the Monastic Associate Admission Committee and the participant will meet for an official evaluation of the participant’s progress on a semi-annual basis recommending or rejecting the participant’s continuation in the program. At any time the Monastic Associate or the Vocation Director and Formation Director in counsel with the Abbot or Prior, may terminate the participant’s presence in the program.
Participants are not pledged to renunciation of private ownership; nor are they bound to religious obedience in the manner of a monk or claustral oblate. However, they are expected to live chaste lives, to cultivate a simple lifestyle, and to follow the guidance of the abbot, his council, the chapter, and the community of monks and associates in matters pertaining to the community.
Participants go through an assessment process: e.g., before moving in, prospective associates can live in the community for a probationary period or several extended stays. After being accepted by the monastic and associate community, associates and representatives of the monastery sign the covenant between them and the monastic community.*
The participant is subject to full state and federal background checks.
The participant will show evidence of financial stability before being accepted.
The participant will go through full psychological testing after beginning his Associate period.
After meeting with the Monastic Associate Admission Committee for screening purposes and if accepted, the Vocation Director and Abbot or Prior will confirm or reject applicants.
Monastic Associates will wear long-sleeve black shirts to Saturday and Sunday Evening Prayer.
For all other community prayer, as well as meals, collared shirts are required, and shorts are unacceptable.
Outside of prayer and meals, Associates are permitted to dress according to activity.
Associates will be pre-seated in the choir stalls when the community is processing in statio.
Monastic Associates will attend designated juniorate recreation periods.
Monastic Associates will not attend chapter meetings but will be invited to the Abbot’s conferences when appropriate.
Monastic Associates will not attend community retreats or Juniorate days of reflection except when appropriate.
Monastic associates are not allowed in monk’s private cells or any campus dormitory without permission from his superior.
The Monastic Associate Covenant
Monks: Recognizing the associates of our community as truly our brothers in Christ and Saint Benedict,
- We pledge to welcome the associated members of our community to share in our prayer, our Eucharist and earthly food, and the monastery’s works of service.
- We pledge ourselves to teach them what we know from our monastic heritage and experience, and we ask them to share their wisdom with us, and to help us form new members in the monastic and associated communities.
- We pledge to support the associates in their efforts to seek God above all else.
Associate: Associating myself with the community, mission and goals of Saint John’s Abbey and with each other,
- I pledge to live according to the Benedictine way of life, and to share in the prayer, Eucharist, meals, and ministries of the monastery.
- I pledge to respect and enhance the solitude, privacy, quiet, and prayerfulness of the monastic setting.
- I pledge to live in a way that models simplicity and detachment from preoccupations that might distract us from our commitment.
- I pledge to live a chaste life for the duration of the program.
- I pledge to support the efforts of the monks and each other to seek God above all else.
- I pledge to carry the spiritual richness of Benedictine monasticism into our work, our families, and our service to the world.
If you would like more information please contact our Vocation Director through the form below.