The members of St Brigid Monastery live all around the country. We are a dispersed monastic community. Living a shared monastic life while living far apart can be tricky, but we make it work. Actually, the "learning how to make it work" seems to be part of our shared calling to the monastic life. This is how we live together apart: We conduct our prayer lives in community through the use of teleconference, email, and a private Facebook group page. Part of our covenant is that we pray together (and also alone). We use a common prayer book. We have 13 different times for teleconference community prayer throughout the week, at all times of the day, following the monastic schedule, but adapted to include 4 time zones. We also have monthly small group formation meetings via teleconference where we study books and articles that help to strengthen our monastic life and build community. We meet annually for a retreat at Benedictine guest houses throughout the country. We have found that this week-long time together is vital to deepening our relationship with other community members and continuing to form us as a monastic community. Our members are from several denominations and are of all ages, clergy and lay people, married and single, parents, male and female. We welcome all who seek to serve God through Jesus Christ, and are willing and able to live by our community covenant. We call ourselves Oblates. We also call ourselves Monks. We are an ecumenical Benedictine monastery with Methodist roots. We are open to what other monasteries can teach us. St Brigid of Kildare Monastery was established 18 years ago. Other Benedictine monasteries have been around for hundreds of years. Monks and nuns who have lived in their monasteries for many years have much to teach us. We read from a variety of authors and invite monks and nuns to present topics at our annual retreat. The Rule of St. Benedict is our organizing document. We use the RB1980 translation. If you haven't read it, the print version is published by The Liturgical Press. There is also an online version available at www.osb.org (a great web resource for all things Benedictine). Saint Benedict wrote this short rule book over 1500 years ago and, standing the test of time, monasteries around the world still follow it today. Some of it reads like a 1500 year old document, so we have found it helps to understand some background into why he wrote what he did. We use several resources for that and study the Rule together. Saint Brigid of Kildare Monastery uses the term Oblate a bit differently than monasteries that have walls with nuns and monks "cloistered" inside. Our Oblates are our full members (or monks) of the monastery who have been through a process of learning, discerning, prayer, and have decided to make their full promise to the community. At traditional monasteries, oblates are people who have a relationship with the monks at the monastery, but are not full members of the monastery. At St Brigid, our term for full members is Oblate. As a new person begins with our community, there is a 3-phase process of vocational discernment. The phases are: Postulancy, Novitiate, and Juniorate. If someone feels called to monastic life in St Brigid's, they begin by having a conversation with me. After prayerful discernment, they would also talk with Mary Stamps, our leader. Then they would begin as a Postulant and be assigned a mentor. This new person would join us for community prayers and after a time, if they still feel called to our community, they would begin their Novice year of instruction. That year would be followed by a year as a Junior under instruction. At the completion of each phase, the new person discerns and has conversation with their mentor or instructor. If the person still feels called and the community is deems that they are a good fit, that new person can make a final promise to St Brigid of Kildare Monastery. They are then a full member of our community. Discernment is woven into the entire process. As the Porter for Saint Brigid of Kildare Monastery, I'm here to answer inquiries from people regarding our community. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org . I am also happy to speak to you on the phone once you have contacted me by email.
Sue Albright Porter, Saint Brigid of Kildare Monastery