The monks of Mepkin Abbey offer an opportunity for men to have a longer experience of monastic life, or to take a sabbatical within the monastery. Participants in this program live in the monastic community for a period of thirty days. At the request of the participant, this period may be renewed following an evaluation by the monks. Monastic Guests are provided a room with private bath within the monastic community itself, and must participate in all the activities and obligations of the monks — from Vigils at 3:20 AM to Compline at 7:30 PM. They are assigned work just as the monks are.
Advance reservations with the Monastic Guest Master are required, along with a certificate of medical insurance and some form of recommendation from a pastor, employer, or colleague. There is no fee required since work compensates for the cost of room and board. Usually the number of Monastic Guests is limited to three at any one time.
In January 2012, God brought me to a place of complete physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion and depression and then unexpectedly opened the door for me to retire after twenty years of running customer sales and service call centers. I understood Him to be telling me to take a sabbatical and get rested in preparation for my next mission, which He will reveal in due time. One of my first thoughts was to take time for a retreat with Cathie Powell, who founded a contemplative ministry in Greenville, SC, called The Anchorage. She was leading a retreat at Mepkin Abbey in March, but I had a schedule conflict. However, I took time to explore the Mepkin Abbey website and learned about their monastic guest program, a thirty day program for men to live, worship, and work like one of the monks. I felt God drawing me to participate, thinking that perhaps He was going to use that time to reveal my next assignment. My first question to Father Guerric: Is a non-Roman Catholic person permitted to participate in the monastic guest program? He told me that the program was open even to Presbyterians like me!
I hope that everyone is enjoying the onset of winter over there. The weather in Sydney is fantastic and warm. Here is the reflection on my time at Mepkin Abbey we spoke of my writing.
I arrived at Mepkin abbey in the beginning of September. The weather was warm and clear and the days were starting to get shorter, giving every prayer at compline a unique character as the sun set over river and cast its last burning rays through the high church windows while the monks sang to God, asking for his protection through the night.
Read more about John Asher’s beautiful experience as a monastic guest at Mepkin Abbey
Whilden Nettles, a 27 year old man from Pawley’s Island, SC, came as a monastic guest from February 3 to March 5, 2011. he had just finished his job as a probation officer. He expressed the following about how he hoped to use this experience at Mepkin Abbey. “I would like to use my time at Mepkin Abbey to not think about the past or the future, but, instead to commune with God, and focus myself for the journey ahead. I want to experience a life where instead of living for my own gratification, I can fully focus on serving God and others, and hope to take that with me when I leave.”
Read about Whilden’s experience as a monastic guest at Mepkin Abbey