Beneath the many concerns that occupy our lives, beneath the anxious cares and daily demands that lay claim to our identity, it can happen that we discern a deeper pull, one devoted to searching for something more essential, the mystery the Christian tradition calls “God.”
Should we follow the inner thread of this attraction, we might notice its source seems to come from beyond ourselves. In resting with it, we may sense our own desire swell, making us feel alive and connected to the mystery in a new way. Such an experience might lead us to wonder how God might be drawing us, inviting us to a more explicit following of our heart’s desire. This type of spiritual experience may lead to an attraction to explore monastic, contemplative life.
Monasteries have always been places where men and women could let their deepest desires be nourished by a shared vision of mutual love and support. Monastic life has been an avenue of transformation, where all of the elements of life combine to give birth to a new self, made in the image of Christ. Such transformation is a life-long process characterized by faith, discipline and perseverance, in union with one’s brothers and sisters. It calls out what is best in human nature, and leads us to deep peace and inner joy, to “life more abundant” (John 10).
New Skete embodies a unique monastic vision that integrates two separate communities of monks and nuns into one monastic family. Since our community is Eastern Orthodox, we encourage seekers who are attracted to the spiritual depths of the Christian East, and who are interested in a fresh expression of monastic living that remains rooted in tradition.
Our communities welcome vocational inquiries from men and women who feel a gentle yet sustained pull towards contemplative living and who wonder whether they are called to monastic life.
Perhaps the single most important characteristic for an individual considering monastic life is the desire and willingness to seek God by embracing a life of ongoing change which requires a spirit of flexibility and openness.
In general, candidates for our life should be in good health and should have finished whatever formal education they might desire before entering the monastery. Candidates should enjoy people and be willing to work closely with a tightly-knit community of brothers and sisters. Our life is radically communal; thus a person attracted to living alone will find our life a challenge.
New Skete is a member of the OCA - Orthodox Church in America.
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Living a life of happiness and fulfillment.
A wholehearted search for God
Spiritually integrated life
Modern Orthodox monastic community
Life in the community of New Skete Monastery
Skete was the name of a remote settlement in the Egyptian desert southwest of Alexandria. In the 4th century, it became known for its extraordinary groups of “spiritual athletes”, Christians who fled the cities to follow the Gospel in a radical way. These were the desert fathers and mothers. In later centuries the name came to refer to a small family-style monastic community under the guidance of a spiritual father. By taking the name “New Skete” we seek to live out the same monastic ideals in a way that is appropriate for the 21st century.
Inquirers to our life usually range in age between 22 and 55. Generally, they come from a Christian background (either Orthodox or another denomination) and they typically have at least an undergraduate education. Persons interested in our community should be in good health (a physical is required before entering), with nothing that would impede participating in the daily life and work of the community.
Yes. New Skete is a monastery of the Orthodox Church of America, and while a number of the monks and nuns have come from different Christian denominations, what attracted them to New Skete was the unique expression of Eastern Christian spirituality they found here. We do welcome inquirers from different Christian denominations and faith backgrounds.
In any viable monastic community members will use their gifts and talents for the common good. Often through living in community members discover gifts they did not know they had. More than planning on doing specific work, what is most important in a new member is a willingness to help out wherever one is asked. That said, members of our community are creative and engage in a variety of businesses to support ourselves: breeding and training of dogs, baking gourmet cheesecakes, painting icons, offering spiritual direction, writing, and doing retreat work.
Becoming a professed monk or nun involves a process that starts with an individual becoming an inquirer. When a person expresses interest in New Skete, they arrange a visit, which may lead to successive visits to get to know the community better. Should that lead to a desire to take the next step, they become aspirants, hoping to enter the community as candidates. Candidacy begins when one has been accepted to live in the community for an initial period of approximately six months. If that experience is positive, they move into the novitiate phase, which ordinarily lasts between two and three years. When the discernment between the novice and professed community is mutually positive, the novice may make a deeper commitment to monastic life as either a Riasophore (intermediate commitment) or a Stavrophore (life commitment). Generally, the process of becoming a fully professed monk or nun is four to six years.
If an inquirer has student debts, New Skete will take on the monthly payments for as long as the person is a member of the community. Otherwise, those wishing to enter our life must be debt-free.
Because of the responsibilities that come with living in community, normally family and friends are encouraged to arrange visits to us here at New Skete. That said, there are times when it is appropriate for us to visit our families and friends with the permission of the prior or prioress.
As monks and nuns, we are committed to living a balanced contemplative life of personal prayer, communal worship, work, study, and community life. We rise according to personal rule and have our first prayer service at 7:15am. After breakfast there is time for personal chores followed by a period of work that lasts until 12noon. We have our main meal at 12:15. There is a midday office at 1:00 followed by an afternoon work or study period, depending on one’s responsibilities. Work concludes around 3:30 followed by personal time until 5:00 when we have Vespers. A light supper is available after Vespers. The community gathers at 7:15 for an informal recreation which is followed by free time leading up to retiring for the night.
Hospitality is a core value of New Skete and we have always welcomed people for retreats and to join us for worship. We encourage people who are interested in visiting to contact our guest masters at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org . We also have a resident volunteer program in which people can experience the monastic life for a time by living and working with the community.
The first step in exploring our life is to contact one of our vocation directors.
Individuals who are interested in our life need to develop a positive relationship with us through several visits:
A scheduled Zoom meeting with you and a member of the communities.
An in-person visit, three days to a week in length (depending on individual circumstances). Visiting helps the seeker get to know the community and how we live. These visits provide the opportunity to speak with individual members and begin the process of discerning whether our way of life is a good fit.
The next step is to attend one of our Come and See monastic experience retreats at New Skete. This is a unique opportunity for individuals interested in the monastic life to spend time with us living according to the rhythms of our contemplative life. Seekers have ample opportunity for solitude and prayer, joining us in the choir for services, spending a certain period of time each day in common work, sharing meals with us, and having several spiritual conferences throughout the time on the monastic vocation.
Are you interested in experiencing monastic life to see if it fits with your sense of the "call"?
Resident experience members bring their talents, skills, desire to learn, perspectives, questions, and their longing to follow Christ. They receive guidance as they discern their Christian journey.
Resident experience members participate fully in the daily rhythm of prayer, worship, work, study and leisure. Their participation as a temporary resident supports the mission of the monks and nuns of New Skete.
When an individual enters our community as a novice, an ongoing process of growth and formation begins that will continue throughout life. The point of this process is to become more closely formed according to the image and example of Jesus Christ who is ultimately the true teacher.
In the novitiate period especially we believe that it is crucial to provide the novice with a serious period of formation, in which he or she is exposed to the richness of monastic tradition. Novices attend classes in monastic spirituality, Church history, liturgy, and Scripture. Candidates follow a syllabus of important readings. These lay the foundation in mature personal development for acquiring a solid monastic identity.
The process of formation continues after the monastic makes profession. In addition to daily personal study and reflection, the community invites guest speakers to address important topics. Provision is made for each monastic to seek spiritual direction on a regular basis.
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