The Society of Saint John the Evangelist

Becoming a Brother

Brs. Curtis Almquist & David Vryhof

It begins with desire: the melding of God’s desire and your own desire. Men who come to us have experienced a growing desire to give themselves wholeheartedly to God to live in community and to live a life of prayer and service. A monastic vocation begins as an invitation to know and radiate God’s love. Read about our founder’s vision for life together.

If God has whetted your desire, if you are single, between the ages of 24 and 42, and in good health, we invite you to explore a monastic vocation with us.

 

A Day in the Life of Br. Geoffrey

Please enjoy and share this video about a day in the life of Br. Geoffrey. The Brothers are grateful to the Office of Communication of the Episcopal Church for making it.

What is the Postulancy?

Postulancy is a preliminary test of a man’s calling, normally lasting six months. SSJE provides room and board, health insurance, and a monthly allowance. A Postulant lives within the monastic enclosure and keeps the daily schedule of the Brothers. He joins in the daily round of prayer and worship, and in some community meetings. Specific times during the day are designated for prayer, study, work, and exercise. Postulants attend classes given by the Novice Guardian and other Brothers on Prayer, Monastic History, Scripture, The SSJE Rule, and other aspects of monastic life. After a period of integration and adjustment, lay Postulants learn to serve as Acolytes and ordained Postulants begin to preside at the Eucharist.


Do Postulants usually become Novices?

A man may have interest to test his vocation beyond Postulancy. In the monastic vocabulary, the verb “to test” comes from metallurgy, where metal is “tested” in the refiner’s fire which burns away the dross. A Postulant may find that his initial interest in monastic life does not bear the early test of time; however many of our Postulants do continue to be attracted to our community’s life and ministry. We look for signs: a desire to seek God in prayer, a yearning to serve, social compatibility, and the resilience and maturity to set out on the path of formation.

Men accepted into the Novitiate are clothed with the habit of the Society and become Brothers of the Community. They begin a two-year period of training and spiritual formation which may prepare them to take Initial Vows.

A Postulant may choose not to apply for the Novitiate, in which case he is free to leave the Society to pursue another vocation, and he departs with the Brothers’ prayer of blessing.

Why we came; Why we stayed

Interviews with the SSJE Brothers.

 

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I'm interested. May I apply?

Before applying, carefully read through the section entitled “Norms for Our Community,” (below) to see whether you are eligible for the Postulancy. You should also read “Why We Choose this Life” and The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist to familiarize yourself with our community’s life and work. If you then wish to explore becoming a Postulant, complete and submit the Preliminary Questionnaire. The Vocations Brother will be in contact with you to schedule a conversation. If you have questions, contact us by email at vocations@ssje.org.

 

How does the community decide which applicants to accept?

Before a man can be accepted as a Postulant in our community, he must take the following steps:
1. Complete and submit the Preliminary Questionnaire.
2. Accept the Society’s invitation to visit the Monastery or Emery House for a few days, so that he can meet the Brothers and see what our life is about, and so that we can have the opportunity to know him.
3. If both the Community and the Inquirer want to proceed, a formal application process begins which includes:

  • A more complete Application Form.
  • Letters of reference from a priest and a lay person who know the Aspirant well.
  • A dental examination and report.
  • A physical examination and report.
  • A psychological examination and report.
  • A background check and report.
  • A second visit to the monastery during which the applicant interviews with several brothers.


4. When these reports have been received and if the Brothers and the Applicant agree to proceed, the Superior will extend a formal invitation for the Applicant to come to SSJE to begin Postulancy.

 

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Norms of our Community

We pray that men will hear God’s call to test their vocation with our community. We also pray for the gift of discernment to know who should be encouraged and invited to accept this test, and who should be directed elsewhere. What follows is a listing of some norms which are general guidelines for Aspirants.

Age Aspirants are normally between 24 and 42 years of age.

Denominational Ties We are an Anglican religious order whose life of prayer and worship is ordered by The Book of Common Prayer and by the doctrine and discipline of The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

Academic Preparation Most men enter the community with at least an undergraduate education. The formation during the novitiate begins an on-going program of directed study intended to equip the new brother for life and ministry in the Society.

Financial ObligationsIf an Aspirant is indebted because of academic loans for higher education, SSJE may be able to assume his monthly payments for as long as he remains a member of the SSJE community. An Aspirant must otherwise be debt-free.

Ordination Some men are already ordained when they enter SSJE as a Postulant. Others may eventually have a sense of call to Holy Orders. The community joins together in discerning this call, a formal process that could not begin until a brother makes his Profession in Life Vows.

Recovery from Addiction If the Aspirant is an addict, we expect that he will give evidence of sustained sobriety for at least the previous two years and that he be actively engaged in a 12-Step program.

Sexual Orientation We expect an Aspirant to be on the path toward a mature self-understanding and sexual integration – whatever his sexual orientation – and to demonstrate a sense of call that includes the gift to freely embrace the celibate life.

Previous Marriage or Committed Relationship For a man who is widowed or divorced, or whose committed relationship has ended, a sufficient period of time for grieving and healing needs to transpire before a discernment process with SSJE can begin. We expect an Aspirant to have already had a sustained period experiencing freedom and fulfillment in living the celibate life prior to exploring a vocation with us.

Skills and Personal Qualities Certain qualities and skills are essential for a man to be able to join and thrive in our community. Though we do not expect to see all of the following qualities and skills fully developed in those aspiring to our life (nor, for that matter, in the present membership of the community), we do look at least for the capacity for these to develop.

Spiritual Maturity A personal faith in Jesus Christ; a devotion to Holy Scripture; a sense that he is truly seeking God in community, i.e., he sees community life as a channel of grace and conversion; a sense of God’s presence in the movement of his life; a desire to pray both in community and alone with God; a valuing of the sacramental character of Anglicanism; a responsiveness to the demands of the Gospel for social justice; an acknowledgment of the diversity of beliefs and practices within the Church and world.

Skills for Living in Community Evidence that he knows and accepts himself, his strengths and limitations; the ability to live in solitude and silence; the evidence of continuity in personal relationships; an ease in relating to both men and women; an ability to accept community life as it is without immediately wanting to reform it; an ability to wait and persevere in the face of ambiguity and trials; evidence that he is in touch with his emotional life and willing and able to develop skills for compassion, intimacy, trust, and vulnerability.

Skills to Join in Our Work The evidence of a stable work history; an interest to study and an ability to learn; an interest and openness to theological questions; an ability to listen to others and to accept both praise and correction; an ability to work cooperatively and interdependently with others; a zeal to offer ministry to others; physical and emotional health; a willingness to do humble tasks; an inclination and availability to accept new challenges; a readiness to enjoy rest and recreation.


SSJE Rule of LifeAspirants should become familiar with The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (Cowley Publications, 1997), which is the most complete description of our life together at SSJE. The Rule is available on our website in audio and PDF formats, may purchased online in book format.

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SSJE is a monastic community of The Episcopal Church & The Anglican Church of Canada
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The Society of Saint John the Evangelist is an independent, 501(c) (3) non-profit tax exempt U.S. corporation.
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