It begins with desire: God’s desire and our desire.
Prompted by God’s desire and love for us, and responding to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, we experience a growing desire to give ourselves wholeheartedly to God in a life of prayer and loving service. A monastic vocation begins as an invitation to love.
If you think God may be calling you to explore a monastic vocation with the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, we invite you to prayerfully explore the links below:
The Postulancy is a program for single men between the ages of 25 and 45 who are interested in exploring a monastic vocation within our community. Unlike Monastic Interns, who live alongside us as long-term residents in our Monastery Guesthouse or at Emery House, Postulants live within the monastic enclosure and participate fully in the daily life and work of the community. The duration of the Postulancy is normally six months, but can be extended at the request of the Postulant or the Community.
Postulants keep the same daily schedule as the Brothers, joining in worship, meals, and most community meetings. Specific times during the day are designated for prayer, study and work. Postulants attend regular classes given by the Novice Guardian and other Brothers on such subjects as Prayer, Monastic History, Scripture, The SSJE Rule, and other aspects of monastic life. Like the Brothers, Postulants are given daily tasks and duties in the monastery. After a period of integration and adjustment, lay postulants learn to serve as acolytes and ordained postulants begin to preside at the Eucharist. Postulants are also trained to preach, and take up this ministry when they’re ready to do so.
The Society is responsible for providing health insurance for Postulants and for meeting their other needs (room, board, clothing, monthly allowance, etc.).
We pray that men who are accepted into the Postulancy may feel a call to test their vocation further. They can begin to discern this call with the assistance of the Novice Guardian after a period of several months in the Postulancy. When a man continues to be attracted to our community’s life and work and seeks admission to the Novitiate, we look for signs that he is in fact ready to test his vocation: namely, a desire to seek God in prayer, a yearning to serve, and a willingness to rise up to the demands of community life. Men accepted into the Novitiate are clothed with the habit of the Society and become official members of the Community. They begin a two-year period of training and spiritual formation which prepares them to take Initial Vows.
Some Postulants may choose not to apply for the Novitiate, in which case they are free to leave the Society to pursue another vocation.
Before applying carefully read through the section entitled “Norms for Our Community,” 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 (available on our website) to familiarize yourself with our community’s life and work. If you then wish to apply to be a Postulant, fill out the Preliminary Questionnaire and send it in. The Novice Guardian will then be in touch with you to schedule a visit. If you have questions, contact us at email@example.com.
While Monastic Internships run from September through May, a man can begin the Postulancy in any season of the year, after negotiating his arrival date with the community.
Before a man can be accepted as a Postulant in our community, he must take the following steps:
1. Fill out the Preliminary Questionnaire and send it in.
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 get to know him.
3. If both the Community and the inquirer want to proceed, a formal application process begins which includes:
4. When these reports have been received and if the community and the applicant agree to proceed, arrangements for the applicant’s arrival are made.
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, over the years, we have found to be general guidelines for aspirants, our prospective new members.
Age Aspirants are normally between 24 and 45 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 Obligations If a man is indebted because of academic loans for higher education, SSJE will 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 the SSJE community. 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 A man’s addiction is not necessarily a barrier to his exploring this vocation. If there is an addiction, we expect that the aspirant give evidence of sustained sobriety for at least the previous two years and that he be actively engaged in some kind of support program.
Sexual Orientation One’s sexual orientation is not a determining factor in our discernment. We expect an aspirant to be on the path toward a mature self-understanding and sexual integration, 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 a man to have already had a sustained period of time experiencing freedom and fulfillment in living the celibate life prior to exploring a vocation with us.
Skills and Personal Qualities We have come to recognize that 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.
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 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.
Aspirants 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, or may be purchased from its current publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, Inc.
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SSJE is a monastic community of The Episcopal Church
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