When Jesus calls us to follow him, the path is not always immediately clear. Every vocation story is unique and often full of surprises.
Because our monasteries are autonomous, the call to Cistercian life is a call to live in a particular community and to follow its customs. For this reason, vocational inquiries are handled by the individual monasteries, not by any central organization. And the process of entering the monastery differs from community to community.
Nevertheless, the stages of our life prior to final commitment are for the most part the same:
Candidate. A young woman or man visits the monastery over a period of time, and speaks to the vocation director and/or the superior, who help the person discern their call.
Observership. Before a person gives up job, family, and belongings to enter the monastery, many of our houses ask the candidate to live in the community for a short period, usually at least a month, before returning home to continue the discernment process.
Postulancy. The candidate enters the monastery and begins to live as a member of the community, receiving instruction from the novice director.
Novitiate. After some months as a postulant, the man or woman is clothed with the monastic habit and becomes a member of our Order, continuing to receive guidance and instruction from the novice director.
Temporary vows. After 2 years of novitiate, the novice may be admitted to temporary vows. The years of temporary profession are a time for further study and absorption of the monastic way of living the Gospel, and deeper integration into the community.
Final vows. After at least 3, and no more than 9 years of temporary vows, the young professed sister or brother may be admitted to final vows, which are taken for life.
If you feel God may be calling you to join us in our way of life, we encourage you to explore our monasteries via this site and the links to the sites of individual communities.
When possible, it is usually best to look at monasteries in one’s own country, or where these do not exist, in a similar culture or at least a familiar language. You may use the geographical search to help you find the monasteries nearest you. You may then visit or write directly to the monasteries.
God bless you!