Discerning the Monastic Vocation

Sr. Sara Aiden, reception into the Postulancy

Discovering whether God is calling one to the monastic life is a process called vocation discernment. The word “vocation” comes from the Latin word vocare, which means, “to call.” Vocation discernment is a process of listening, gathering information, and praying that God’s call will be heard. The process begins simply by entertaining the question, “Could God be calling me to this way of life?”

Prayer is very important throughout the discernment process. This includes not only talking to God and asking God’s guidance but also listening for God’s response to our questions, desires, and concerns.

Another significant component of the discernment process is gathering information. Reflecting on one's own personality, experiences, and gifts, as well as dialoguing with family and friends, assists us in knowing ourselves better and what we might bring to a religious community. Gathering information about the different forms of religious life—monastic, apostolic, and missionary—and the many different communities that embrace each of these ways of life is a significant step on the journey, too. Each community has a unique spirituality and charism. Vocation discernment involves finding the spirituality, the charism, and the community that best suits our deepest values and desires.

There are some wonderful discernment resources available on-line!  Have you seen these sites?


Having a spiritual director is a wonderful asset in the discernment process. But if one does not have a spiritual director, most communities have a vocation director who would be willing to assist with questions and concerns. A wise and trustworthy companion can help with learning to listen to the voice of God speaking to one in unexpected ways.

Getting involved or staying involved in parish and diocesan programs gives one a feel for what life in ministry and service is like. It is a terrific way to build positive relationships in a faith-based community.

Most people who are actively discerning a religious vocation benefit greatly by making visits to communities whose life and charism are attractive to them. These visits can be coordinated with the community’s vocation director and may take the form of a weekend retreat, a day of reflection, or simply a private visit. Getting a feel for how community members pray, work, and relate with one another cannot be overestimated.

If you wish to learn more about discerning a monastic vocation, we invite you to contact us

Sister Karen Ann Lortscher, OSB; Director of Vocation Ministry

Sister Magdalena Craig, OSB; Vocation Team

Sister Michelle St. Marie, OSB; Vocation Team

(256) 734-2199

vocations [at] shmon.org