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Old 05-24-2005, 06:55 PM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is offline
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Do I Have to be Catholic to Join a Monastery?

Let's say I just wanted to get away from it all for a few months, or a year or something. Maybe I've just gone through a traumatic divorce or whatever (I haven't; just giving f'rinstances here).

Anyway, if I were to decide that twelve months of peace & quiet, tending cows and doing menial labor in the Austrian Alps, and spending several hours a day in prayer were just the thing for me, what's to stop me from joining a monastery?

Do you have to be a monk/priest? Do you even have to be Catholic? If you're a Christian, but not Catholic, will they give you a conditional pass?
Old 05-24-2005, 07:20 PM
rocking chair rocking chair is offline
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not all monasteries are catholic.

quite a few monasteries (cath. and non.) have guest houses for people who need to retreat for a bit.
Old 05-24-2005, 07:30 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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Many monasteries have guest houses and allow visitors to stay, either for basic holiday accommodation or for more spiritual purposes. I have made retreats in monasteries in Australia, the UK and France and done very much what you're suggesting - joined with the monks in their office, performed manual labour etc. But I'm a Catholic and I've come armed with a letter from my PP. I've never stayed longer than about 10 days. I've always made a generous donation to the monastery for my accommodation too.

If someone were serious about trying out his vocation then presumably the religious order's normal postulancy/novitiate process would apply and that would last at least 12 months. It's unlikely that anyone who wasn't already a Catholic would be accepted though. I'd be surprised if many monasteries would allow a non-Catholic to stay for a period as long as a year.
Old 05-25-2005, 12:17 AM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is offline
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Can't see them turning down a soul to convert. Seriously . . .
Old 05-25-2005, 06:47 AM
Fortean Fortean is offline
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Anglican monasteries:
Old 05-25-2005, 07:02 AM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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there is a long buddhist tradition of temporarily joining monastaries to get away from it all and do some meditating. Course that might be far from the Alps...
Old 05-25-2005, 08:29 AM
beagledave beagledave is offline
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Old 05-25-2005, 03:53 PM
SiouxChief SiouxChief is offline
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Location: West Chester, OH
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IANAM, but I have a friend who used to be. So I forwarded him the OP. This is his reply:

You certainly don't have to be catholic, or even christian, to spend time at a monastery. For instance, we had Buddhists join us while I was at Gethsemani. According to the Rule of St. Benedict, all guests are to be treated as if they were Christ himself and many monasteries don't have an actual fee for visitors (it is assumed at Gethsemani that you will give them the recommended offering for your length of stay). This is the ideal of course.

Individual abbeys will of course have their own policies. If you wanted to spend a long time as a guest I suppose you would have to make a case for why you wanted to do so with the contact person (usually the "guestmaster") of the abbey. I would think that if I was the guestmaster I'd want to be sure you were not a mass murderer hiding from the law- I'd put you through some kind of background check. Having a personal relationship with someone in the monastery, or with somebody who knows somebody in the monastery would certainly speed things along...

Otherwise, I think any monastery would welcome someone to come and help shovel the cow manure and who is willing to lead a quiet life without disturbing the resident monks and seekers...


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