How Does One Become a Monk

A man becomes a monk at our monastery by first exploring Benedictine life which involves visiting our community, sharing in our prayer and work, reflecting on scared scripture, and listening to God in prayer. We welcome men between ages of 20 to 40, who are confirmed Roman Catholic (or in process of joining the Catholic Church), are either single or have received an annulment, and who are US citizens to explore our way of life.

Saint Martin’s Abbey accepts men who are:

  • Between the ages of 20 to 40,
  • Single or annulled
  • US citizens
  • Baptized and confirmed Catholic
  • Have no felonies

The first step in exploring our Benedictine way of life is to contact our Vocation Director, Father Paul by emailing him at paul@stmartin.edu or by calling him at 360-438-4472.

We welcome men who are discerning our way of life to visit our monastery for the first time by first submitting our vocation form.

The Stages of Becoming a Monk

The exploration. Explore the Benedictine life. First-time explorers of our Benedictine way of life are asked to submit an vocation form. before the first visit to our monastery. During the first discernment visit, we ask the discerner share in our prayer and work and get to know us monks. One in the exploration stage needs to listen to God in prayer and ask for advice from a Spiritual Director. The next stage of formation is to apply for admission to the Postulancy.

Inside the Abbey Church Eucharistic Hall.
Inside the Abbey Church Eucharistic Hall.

The Postulancy. In this stage, the candidate lives in the monastery where he makes a gradual transition from the secular to the religious life. This is a time for him to become better acquainted with our community, prayer life, and work. Postulants normally reside in the abbey six months prior to entrance into the Novitiate.

Monks studying in the private monastic library.
Monks studying in the private monastic library.

The Novitiate. The Novitiate is a time for the novice to learn the discipline and art of living the Gospel as a monk. This happens by listening to the monastic tradition and assimilating its values. During the Novitiate year, the novice studies the Rule of Benedict, monastic literature and history, and delves more deeply into the Scriptures, especially the Psalms. It is during the Novitiate that the novice is given the spiritual tools which enable him to live the monastic life. The novice finds this period to be a time of deep spiritual growth.

Monks playing billiards in the Monastery Game Room.
Monks playing billiards in the Monastery Game Room.

Simple Vows. Simple vows are a period of temporary commitment and usually lasts three years. The period of temporary commitment is, however, a serious commitment and is a time for continuing growth. During these years, the monk receives a broad theological foundation, as well as some practical experience in apostolic activities. By embracing humility, poverty, chastity, stability, and obedience, he will be better able to determine his ability to live the monastic life successfully. The community will be able to decide whether his manner of life is in accord with its spirit and objectives. Pronouncing vows is easy, but the faithful living of their spiritual summons is a life-long task. There are successes and failures, joys and sorrows. But with self-discipline and patience, linked with sacrifice and mortification, the road broadens as one learns to rely more on God and less on self.

Monks waiting to pray Evening Prayer (Vespers) in the Cloister Walk.
Monks waiting to pray Evening Prayer (Vespers) in the Cloister Walk.

Solemn Vows. If, after much discernment, and four-to-five years of spiritual training the monk in simple vows would like to consecrate his whole life to God, he will ask the community to admit him to solemn vows.