Vocation visits are one of your "go to" tools in Catholic discernment. Generally speaking, an early discernment pattern will begin with prayer, advance with online and printed research, be bolstered with advice and guidance from spiritual directors, parish priests, monastics, and friends, and finally being accepted to make a vocation visit to a community. This early discernment pattern follows for every discernment option (religious life, priesthood, marrige and single life). If exploring a vocation to married life, for instance, few people in contemporary America will consent to marriage before meeting, dating and announcing formal engagment with their future spouse. The same applies to the religious life and diocesan priesthood. After taking steps towards a religious vocation, it is absolutely necessary to get to know your future community, its prayer style, ministries, etc. Saint John's Abbey considers men for discernment visits who are ages 23-43; confirmed Roman Catholic (or in process of joining the Catholic Church); either single or have received an annulment; and are US citizens or permanent residents.
What commitments does a visit entail? First of all it is always good for visitors to remember that you are visiting a home—sometimes a very large home—but a home none-the-less. Time has been spent preparing for your arrival, making sure your room is clean and ready, and schedules for tours, activities and work periods have been made. There is no cost to the visitor. The only commitment that needs to be made by the guest is to enter into the visit with an open heart, letting the experience unfold as it does without any preconceived ideas.
To visit a monastery as a vocation guest is simply that—a visit. It does not commit the monastic community or the visitor to anything more. If both the monastic community and the vocation guest have a sense that the visit went well, both may agree that another visit is a good idea. Conversely, it may become evident to one or both parties that an additional visit would not be appropriate. The vocation director will typically host the vocation guest. Before the guest leaves, the discerner and director will meet to evaluate the visit.
What should I expect during a visit? A visit is an opportunity to experience the monastic life: meet the monastic community, explore our work and prayer, gain a familiarity with the campus and gardens, and plant the seeds of friendship. However, vocation visits are not simply social, or a distant and objective observation of monasticism. Following the monastic daily schedule, you will pray, work and recreate with the monks. In short, a visit is designed to emulate the monastic life—to let you live as a monk for a few days—and thereby help to inform and inspire your discernment.
What are the requirements to visit? Our fundamental requirement is that you are discerning a possible vocation to monastic life. If you are new to the process, or experienced, does not matter, only that you are honestly discerning. Consequently, if you are not interested in the monastic life as a vocation, or you are married and simply intellectually interested in the monastic tradition, or you are simply interested in a retreat, a vocation visit is not right for you. Certainly you may still visit the Abbey Church and the campus, as well as visit for a spiritual retreat, however you must inquire through the Abbey Guesthouse.
In addition to this fundamental requirement, Saint John's Abbey considers men for vocations visits who are between the ages of 23-43; baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic; either single or have received an annulment; and are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
If you have further questions please visit our FAQ, or contact our Vocation Director with the form below.