Fr. Christopher On Becoming a Monk
I was born and raised in New Albany, Indiana. I have five siblings, and we were all educated in our parish school. The church was an important part of my childhood, and it is fair to say that our lives revolved around our parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
I am not sure when I began considering a vocation to the priesthood, although I am sure that the thought was there much longer than I would admit at the time. Upon graduation from high school I enrolled in St. Meinrad College, a college seminary operated by the monks of St. Meinrad Archabbey. I was officially a student for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and during the summers of my college years I would live and work in parishes throughout the archdiocese. I truly loved my summer experiences, and with the help of my spiritual counselor continued my studies for the diocesan priesthood.
During my college years I was profoundly influenced by the monks of St. Meinrad, and especially one of them. I admired the discipline of their lives and their selfless concern for their students. I was also very close to several priests of the Archdiocese who encouraged me in my discernment. At that same time, there were a couple of young monks from Belmont Abbey studying for the priesthood at St. Meinrad. My family had just moved to North Carolina, and they were so enthusiastic about their monastic community that I accepted their invitation to visit Belmont. I found the community warm and inviting, and their work impressive, but I had such good experiences in my summer assignments that I decided that after college I would continue to study for the priesthood as a student for the Archdiocese.
It is funny how things don’t work out the way you think they will. I began to think and pray about my interest in the monastic life. Something told me that I could not dismiss my interest so quickly. And so I visited Belmont again; there were no lightning bolts, no sudden clarity of thought, just a feeling that this was where I needed to be.
But perhaps more important than what brought me to Belmont Abbey is what has kept me here for almost 40 years. And that is a far easier question to answer. The community I entered in 1975 had amazing and heroic men, who built the community and the college with hard work and harder prayer, with much sacrifice and dedication. And they were eager to share their life and the treasure of their community with men who wanted to carry on the vision of St. Benedict as lived at Belmont. I fell in love with the enthusiasm and passion for the monastic life I found here. The enthusiasm and passion are still here so many years later, and we still eagerly share our life and treasure with men who wish to carry on the vision of St. Benedict. That’s why I came, and that is why I stay.
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During my college years I was profoundly influenced by the monks I admired the discipline of their lives and their selfless concern for their students.