Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Vocations Experience for Women

Southwark doesn't have many female monastic communities but an important one is the community of Benedictine nuns at Minster in Kent occupying the site of a seventh century monastic foundation. The sisters run a number of vocations activities including the forthcoming "Monastic Experience Retreat" which will take pace at the Abbey from 9th -14th July this year.
Although the Abbey has a website, the sisters don't allow the telephone or internet to become a distraction to their routine of work and prayer so to find out more information you need to contact them by letter.
The address is:
The Benedictine Nuns of St Mildred's Priory
Minster Abbey,
Minster-in-Thanet, Nr Ramsgate,
Kent, UK

As a taster of vocations discernment at St Mildred's Priory you may find this extract from the website helpful:

Monastic Vocation

All people are called to love and serve God. Some people are called to serve their brothers and sisters by devoting their lives in service to the poor. Some are called to bring new life into the world through married love. A few people, however, are called in love to give themselves to God, in a life dedicated to prayer, through Benedictine monastic life.

"Discernment of a Vocation"

Discerning a vocation to the Benedictine life at Minster involves a process of prayer and dialogue and three parties are involved. God who calls, the person who is called, and the Church through the community, guided by the Holy Spirit, discerns if the call is genuine. This process will take some time.

There are however some important elements which are essential for a genuine vocation to our life. The young woman must be Roman Catholic, single, free from all obligations to her family and not be in debt.

Our life is joyful and rewarding, but it is also demanding. The young woman must be healthy both mentally and physically and have an ability to live with others in community. Usually she will be between 22 and 39 years of age. It is important to have the desire to spend time each day in spiritual reading (lectio divina) and be eager to participate fully in the Liturgical prayer, and life of the community.

"Is she truly seeking God?"

St Benedict wrote that "the concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God and shows eagerness for the Work of God (i.e. the Divine Office), for obedience and for trials" (Holy Rule chapter 58). These 'four aspects ' of a Benedictine vocation practically cover the whole of our spiritual life

In the Benedictine life the nun binds herself by solemn vows of obedience, stability in the community, and the monastic way of life. The monastic call is always to a specific monastery.


If you feel drawn to a life of prayer with the Benedictine community at Minster Abbey the first step is to contact the Novice Mistress. You may then be invited to stay in the Guest House to experience something of our monastic hospitality and to meet the community. You may be asked to visit a number of times. During your visit it is wise to ask to see the Novice Mistress and discuss your feelings about your possible vocation. If both parties believe God is really calling you, you may be invited to live alongside the community for a month or so in order to experience life 'on the inside'. If you still feel a desire to pursue a monastic vocation and the community feels it is right to do so, you may request to enter the community as a postulant.

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