The Next Best Thing to Monastic Life

[ 7 ] December 10, AD 2012 |

So you wanted to be a monk, or a nun, but God called you to married life. Not to worry! The next best thing to being a monk or nun, is living next to a monastery or convent.

The benefits of living in close proximity to religious are numerous. Imagine, waking up in the morning to the gently tolling bells, calling you to daily Mass in the stone-walled crypt church. Picture yourself visiting the grounds every other weekend to help them clear the land or build a fence. Sit in for Sunday evening Vespers and feel your spirits lifted with the heavenly voices of the nuns.

Okay, so maybe reality is a bit more prosaic than all that, but you get the idea. In seriousness, centering your family”s faith life around a religious community is a beautiful thing. Our family hopes to find a young-but-old religious community to move next to. Perhaps you are interested in the same. What are some of the possibilities?

Benedictines of Clear Creek

These monks are growing by leaps and bounds! They”re Benedictines, which is the ancient monastic order founded by St. Benedict as the Roman Empire crumbled. The story of how this monastery was founded is nothing short of miraculous. They follow the Benedictine Rule, naturally.

These monks are located about an hour and a half east of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The tough part is, they are out in the middle of nowhere, so you have to figure out how to make a living in the boonies. Difficult, but not impossible.

My family considered Tulsa because, in addition to these monks, the new order founded by Mother Miriam of the Lamb, aka Sister Rosalind Moss: the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Israel”s Hope calls it their home. They are just getting started but are an exciting new order to watch.

Franciscans of the Immaculate

These friars have several communities around the country, are traditional, and are very Marian. We visited their community in Bloomington, Indiana, and were struck by their reverence and the beauty of the land there.

One neat thing about them is that each community seems to have its own unique outreach, whether caretaking the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, or running cool camps for fathers and sons, or hosting retreats.

Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles

This is a community of beautiful nuns. You may know them from their popular Christmas album and their new Advent one. They”re in western Missouri (Gower), not too far from St. Joseph and Kansas City.

Several families are moving to live close by them, and they are a traditional order (notice that is a common thread here).

Dominicans of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

needs no introduction. They”re the powerhouse of God. Their growth can hardly be calculated using known numerical methods–geometric, exponential…who knows!

They”re in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and soon building another one hundred nun priory in my backyard in central Texas. While checking this great order out, also consider the Nashville Dominicans.

The Community of St. John

Also informally known as the Brothers of St. John, though they also have a community of sisters. This community is amazing. Loooong formation, founded by a holy French Dominican priest. Every one of these priests is multi-lingual, incredibly learned, and deeply peaceful and joyful.

They are known for their excellent preaching and also retreats. You can find them in Laredo, Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Carmelites aka the Mystic Monks

They”re known for their great Mystic Monk coffee, but the Carmelites in Wyoming are also a burgeoning religious order, growing as fast as the Benedictines in Oklahoma.

When they”re not busy contemplating the great mysteries of our Lord, the monks are throwing the football around, hiking around the beautiful country, and of course, making great coffee.

What to Consider

When considering moving close to a religious community, ask yourself: what is their charism? Is it compatible with our own? Do they want people to live close by them? How much interaction can we have with them? Daily or weekly Mass? Confession? Retreats? Spiritual direction? Vespers?

Are they a community that seems to do everything in Latin? That”s great if you are quite traditional, but if not perhaps you should consider another one. Does your family have a strong Marian devotion? If so a Marian order could be great for you.

Can you make a living out in the woods where (many of) these communities are? That might mean a long commute, or working remotely, or doing some other type of computer or writing job.

I listed only a handful of communities, ones that we have personally met or corresponded with. There are many others out there. I think that in the next fifty years we will see these young, faithful, dynamic orders growing geometrically, with Catholics beginning to flock around them, as island fortresses in the hostile waters.

If you know of a great community, please tell us about it in the comments!

Print Friendly

Tags: , , ,

Category: Family, Married Life

About the Author ()

Devin Rose is a Catholic writer and lay apologist. After his conversion from atheism to Protestant Christianity in college, he set out to discover where the fullness of the truth of Jesus Christ could be found. His search led him to the Catholic Church. He blogs at St. Joseph’s Vanguard and has released his first book titled “If Protestantism Is True.” He has written articles for Catholic News Agency, Fathers for Good, Called to Communion, and has appeared on EWTN discussing Catholic-Protestant topics.
  • Pingback: Living Near a Monastery! | St. Joseph's Vanguard

  • Elizabeth

    We love, love, love living near St. Vincent Archabbey. The monks took bets on whether my husband and I would get married or become religious when we were in college. They witnessed our wedding, the birth of our first child, and so many other special events. They really are family to us.

  • Pingback: Catholic Blogosphere Debates on Hell | Big Pulpit

  • Patricia

    We don’t live too far from St. Vincent’s Archabbey ourselves (we are in WV)! Our nearby spiritual retreat is Mount St. Macrina Monastery (Uniontown, PA), the home of the (Byzantine Catholic) Sisters of St. Basil the Great. Our family spent some time this past summer with the Benedictines of Clear Creek Monastery & it was wonderful! We also spent some time at Holy Transfiguration Monastery (Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic) in Redwood Valley, CA…now that was heavenly! This is the religious community that we would ideally like to live nearby. Two other monasteries that we hope to visit soon are Christ the Bridegroom (Byzantine women monastics, across from the Shrine of Mariapoch) in Burton, OH & Holy Resurrection Monastery (Romanian Byzantine) in St. Nazianz, WI.

    • http://captivetheheart.blogspot.com Stephanie

      I’m also a lover of St. Vincent’s! I’ve spent two retreats there with wonderful friends and love participating in the monks’ prayer. As a fellow West Virginian, now I’m excited to look into Mount St. Macrina–thanks for the recommendation, Patricia!

  • http://captured-forever.blogspot.com ce58

    I’m partial to the School Sisters of Christ the King… something about having been with them for a time. Having them teach my children someday in their Catholic elementary schools of Lincoln, NE would be wonderful. But I will go where God leads… sometimes I really hope for the Lincoln diocese though…

  • http://www.alliancecatholicworker.wordpress.com Tomás Murray

    Holy Resurrection Monastery is an Eastern Catholic Monastic community (Byzantine Rite) in St Nazianz, Wisconsin. Several families moved with them from California when the monastery moved last year. They are committed to the New Evangelization and their liturgical life is beautiful but pretty grueling, much more demanding than western rite communities. If you want to experience the beauty of the Eastern Church come here. http://WWW.hrmonline.org