Does the novice truly seek God? - Rule of St Benedict

Monastic life is romanticised and stereotyped; images of cowled figures, gothic architecture and ethereal chant readily come to mind. Although it may have some of these aspects, the life and spirituality of a monastic community is a grounding in realism. Living at close quarters on a daily basis with people of very different temperaments and backgrounds, and to do so in peace, is one of the most demanding ascetical practices we have to face. It requires people willing to be changed and challenged in all sorts of unexpected ways, so that by dying to self the life of Christ might grow within us.


We welcome enquirers to our Alongsider programme for those who wish to share our life for a period up to a year. This may be to take 'time out' and reflect, to get a grounding in our spirituality, or with a view to exploring a monastic vocation. It is our hope that more and more young people can experience the monastic path within Christianity in a way described by Abbot Patrick of Gethsamane in his Monastic Vision for the 21st Century:

'A kind of monasticism in the Christian West that would be open to young men and women who after completing their college work, and before deciding on a life situation, would retire to a monastery for (a time) as part of their growth process, much like Hindu and Zen Buddhist monks have done for centuries.  Most of these men and women would return to "the world" following their monastic training, which hopefully would deepen their Christian commitment, and would prepare them for the awesome responsibilities of raising a family in a secular culture with its emphasis on doing and having rather that on being. It was my hope that (a year) in a monastic setting would deepen the person's commitment to Christian principles and develp moral values that would remain with these young men and women for the rest of their lives. I also hoped that some of these ... would decide to make it their life's vocation and enter the monastic way as a permanent commitment.'   

Here is a new short film about Arta's journey as an alongsider at Mucknell.


A Monastic Calling

The Alongsider programme functions much in the same way as a postulancy would for those who feel a sense of calling to the monastic life. It would be the first in a series of traditional stages of discernment lasting several years. If after several months you wish to take your commitment further, and the Abbot and community agree you may have a calling, you can request to become a novice. This lasts anywhere between 20 months and 4 years. This might then be followed by Profession in Simple Vows, and after 3 years to Solemn Vows for life.

The first step is to contact the Abbot and arrange to visit and/or stay with the community, and to join us in our work and prayer. If that visit goes well a subsequent visit will normally be arranged. If after two or three visits you still feel the attraction and the Community agrees, you will be invited to identify a period when you can be free from work and other responsibilities to come and take up life as an Alongsider. Though the notional period may be from six months to a year, the commitment will be reviewed on both sides a month at a time.

Some basic requirements that we ask are:

1. You should be between 20 and 45 years old

2. You should be in robust physical and mental health. The community must be assured you can respond to the demands of our life and contribute in practical ways to the running of the monastery.

3. Since life in the monastery pre-supposes an attitude of obedience, you must be able to life with good-will towards authority.

4. Life in the monastery is celibate and largely spent on site

5. Those who go on to test a vocation to the monastic life need to be free from debt (this does not include Student Loans)

For further information, questions or to make an initial enquiry please write to us at:

Mucknell Abbey, Mucknell Farm Lane, Stoulton, Worcestershire, WR7 4RB

or email the Abbot at abbot@mucknellabbey.org.uk