Tell me about your journey from being a college student at Benedictine College to becoming a monk at St. Benedict’s Abbey.
When I graduated from Benedictine I had thought about religious life, but I was ready to be done with college and the college experience. I wanted to go out into the real world for a little while. So I set aside thoughts of seminary or religious life and tried to find employment. I didn’t find what I was looking for back home in Alabama, so I found a job teaching junior high religion in Wichita, which was providential because if I had gone back home I probably wouldn’t have stayed in contact with the Abbey. During that time I made a lot of good friends, but moving into a town where I didn’t know anyone, I really began learning about myself. I tried to rely on God the entire time. In some ways, it was kind of a desert experience in which I learned that nothing in the outside world would be enough for me in my spiritual life.
What is your favorite part about community life?
The best part for me is that the community becomes your family. You come together several times a day to catch up and see how other people’s days are going. You get to pray with each other several times a day, help each other through big struggles that might be going on in their lives, and you really do get to know what and who has gone before you in the family. We get the chance to sit around and tell the family stories about the monks from the past, impersonating them and emphasizing their eccentricities. It’s just a lot of fun! As novices we did a project where we spent several months doing research. I did mine on the construction of the current Abbey building and during that time it was really nice to see more of the back story of some of the monks about whom we still hear stories. It’s really enjoyable for me to learn about all these people who have made this place what it is today and start to connect with those guys and put a story to the name on the gravestone or on the necrology board, and to really know what built this place.
What is it like being at an abbey that shares its land with a college campus?
Some abbeys are more cut off from the outside world than we are. Being attached to such a strongly faithful college and a group of students who are so passionate about their faith keeps us more connected to the outside Church than we would if we were out in the middle of the country on our own. That connection emphasizes the fact that we are part of the greater Body of Christ. And we want the students to know that they are always welcome at our Liturgy of the Hours. Our interaction with the students re-emphasizes the greater body every time we have that interaction with them.