Jesus said,”I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears My voice and opens to Me, I will come in to them” 

Finding out about yourself

Finding about us

The process

A Vocation is simply the choice God offers a person for their way of life. It may be a feeling in the heart which makes a person want to find out about the different kinds of religious communities. A person may have known a particular Community for years, and now wish to explore becoming part of it, or find a Community which draws you to it on a visit or retreat.

What could possibly persuade a man today to take up such a way of life? He has a dilemma: the call of the world with all its material pleasures, versus the voice of Christ asking him to make a perfect sacrifice to God.

The religious life is a happy one. Monks feel the presence of God’s most precious gift, “Peace I leave you, My peace I give unto you”.  Earthly pleasures cannot compete with this.

Peter said to Jesus, “I have left everything behind and followed you. What then shall we have.” Jesus replied, “You will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life”. A monk needs purity of heart – a heart given completely to God. This relationship of love is expressed and nourished with God through prayer. So, we pray at set times during the day, we work and undertake spiritual reading.

St Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Monastic life is just that – it has no other purpose or goal. We choose to live in poverty, chastity and obedience to free ourselves for this task. The Rule of St Benedict states: ‘what can be sweeter to us then the voice of the Lord inviting us? Behold the Lord points out the way of life to us by his own fatherly affection.’

So are you truly seeking God? St Benedict states this: ‘the concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God and whether he shows eagerness for the work of God, for obedience and for trials.’

Discernment Questions

How do I know if I have a monastic vocation?

What may start as an unsettling idea becomes a recurring thought.  The man with a religious vocation increasingly finds that there is a restlessness of spirit that only the things of God can fill.  The idea of other relationships may be attractive, but there is the question of whether or not God has something more in mind. 


A few questions to consider:

Are you happy or content, but yet find that deep within you there is an unfulfilled longing?

With all that you have, is there a sense that it is not enough?

Do you feel drawn to frequent attendance at Mass, and more prayer than your present circumstances permit?

Do you enjoy sharing your faith with others, most especially those who are searching for God?

When you first considered monastic life, did the idea catch you off-guard, like someone who has been picked out of a crowd and responds, ‘‘Who, me?’’

Do you find that you possess a great love for the mission of the Church and her teachings?

When you have contact with priests and religious, is there a sense of connection, an attraction to the joy and conviction they possess?

What can I do to discern God's call more deeply?

The best answer to this question is – pray!

God speaks to us in the silence of our hearts. We can look for extraordinary signs, but God works best with our cooperation in prayer and honest self-investigation. 

The closer you move toward the light, the easier it will be to see the road ahead. 

Consider your spiritual life and include the following:

Examine your conscience daily, and seek to know yourself better in the light of God’s love and mercy.

If you have access to someone, perhaps a priest, who understands the religious life and has the wisdom to guide you, then let such help be of benefit to you.

Attend Mass frequently.

If you have a nearby church that reserves the Blessed Sacrament,

then set aside some time in Christ’s presence there. 

If not, try to visit another church when possible and spend some time in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Read Sacred Scripture daily, and aim to read the classics of the spiritual life – find out more about the various religious orders in the Church, their histories and their mission.

Participate in retreats, especially at monasteries or convents if possible. 

Much can be learned from such exposure and attention to your spiritual life.

What are some of the basic requirements for acceptance into this community?

You will need to be single, debt-free, and without any familial responsibility that would prevent you from entering.

You will need to be a confirmed Catholic.

You should be sufficiently healthy – a full physical examination is required as a part of our application process.

You should have emotional health and wholeness – a psychological exam is part of our application process.

You will need the ability to live happily within a community.

You will need to be of a sufficient age and maturity.

You will need a willingness and ability to be formed – you do not come to a community to demand changes or exceptions, or to instruct the community on your ideas and preferences, rather,

you come and humbly embrace the life of the community which will form you into a faithful monk.

You need a proper motive – monastic life is not an escape nor a leisurely life of repose!

What is the best age to enter?

The best age to enter is when God calls, though between the early twenties and the late forties is a good guide. However, the greatest impetus comes when God’s grace makes us ‘ready’. 

For some this call comes when they are young, for others it comes much later. Whatever the case, God’s call is mysterious. What is most important is self-knowledge. 

If a man knows himself and has prayerfully considered monastic life and its essentials, he may possess a sincere and well-informed desire – this is God’s gift.

I find that I am attracted to both monastic life and marriage. Does the fact that I would love to be in a committed, loving relationship and have a family mean that I don't have a religious vocation?

No!  Some of the same qualities needed to be a good husband and father are needed to be a good monk. We love with the same capacity, though the expressions differ. As monks, we know Christ as the Beloved, and express our intimacy with him in a life of prayer. It is a sacrificial love that is life-giving, and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, fulfilling.

What about close relationships with others and discernment?

Because the call to monastic life is an invitation to freely follow Christ in the celibate state, close relationships in the midst of a time of discernment can make the way forward difficult to decide upon. The call to the monastic life, like that of marriage, is a radical call to surrender oneself wholly to the other. In the case of monastic life, this surrender is to Christ alone by our complete self-gift. Because all our loves are ordered in and through Christ, we can lose nothing by allowing Christ to speak to our hearts and direct the love he has first given to us.

What is the basic time frame for formation and the various steps along the way?

The first step is inquiring. At this stage one makes initial contact with the community and begins a dialogue with the Novice Master and the Abbot. The person inquiring will say something about himself and why he perceives he may have a call to the monastic life. 


Such an inquirer will usually be invited to the monastery. If the inquirer’s interest in the community continues and deepens to the point of serious consideration toward application, he may be invited to come back to the monastery for a longer visit, perhaps in the monastic house of discernment. This gives time for the candidate to live and work with the community, but not to live entirely in the community. If all goes well, and he and the community feel that it is worthwhile, then an application can be made to try his vocation.


The first stage of formation is the Postulancy, which lasts up to 6 months. The Postulant lives and works in the community and begins to study the history of the monastery, the customs of the house, the forms of the liturgy and the basics of monastic life, practice and history. At the successful completion of this period, he may be invited to advance to the Novitiate, where he will be clothed in the habit and given a new name.  The novitiate lasts one full year, and is a more intense time of study and formation, particularly study of the Rule of St Benedict, the Psalms and the Constitutions of the English Benedictine Congregation.  At the conclusion of the novitiate year, the novice may petition to make his first profession of vows. 

This first stage of profession is called the Juniorate, and lasts 3 years. The final step is the Solemn Profession, where the monk vows to live the monastic life in this monastery for the rest of his life.

What is the relationship with your family after entering the monastery?

We have a great debt of gratitude for our families since from them we have been given life and love. It may well be that we also received through our family the gift of our faith. With time and the power of God’s grace, our relationships actually grow stronger. The hundredfold promised to those who leave everything to follow Christ also flows into our families.


At the beginning of formation, when a man moves from his former way of living to the monastic way, contact with family and friends is limited out of necessity. Correspondence is allowed, but during the Novitiate year, the novice does not leave the monastery, unless in cases of grave emergency. Junior Professed monks receive two weeks away from the monastery each year, so that they may visit family and friends, either in two consecutive weeks, or broken up over the year.

What about the sacrifice of giving up so many of the good things of the world?

The grace of a religious vocation is to respond to God’s call to leave all things to follow Christ (Matthew 19:21).  This entails sacrifice and change. Yet this sacrifice, joined with Christ, brings great joy. The call to the monastic life is an invitation to look beyond the things of the world in all of their goodness, in favour of the ultimate realities of heaven.  Through the Benedictine vow of conversatio morum, which includes the traditional evangelical counsels of chastity and poverty (simplicity of living), Christ detaches us from possessions, and frees us for single-hearted devotion to Him.  Through the vow of obedience, God conforms our wills totally to his, so that we may listen and carry out his will; through the vow of stability, he teaches us to lovingly persevere in faith and with hope – even when the going gets tough.

Watch our vocational film

Next Step

Come and stay

If you are considering whether you have a Vocation we invite you to come and talk to us about your calling. Come and stay with us in the monastery for a few days and follow the monastic routine.

Application to come and stay

This booking form is only for those who are genuinely seeking a monastic vocation. We are unable to give accommodation beyond a 7-day retreat in our monastery retreat quarters




Abbot David O.S.B

Fr Paul O.S.B

Fr Andrew O.S.B

Br Daniel O.S.B

Prior of Buckfast Abbey

Father Benet O.S.B

Father Benet O.S.B

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