What is Benedictine Monastic Life?

“As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.” (Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue 49)

As Benedictine Sisters we seek Christ together, taking the Rule of St. Benedict as our guide for living the gospel in a lifestyle that embraces community life, prayer, work, service to God’s people, and care for creation.

The Rule of St. Benedict is a guide for seeking God with others in community. Rooted in the gospel, it has been adapted again and again for 1500 years as women and men seek to know and serve God in the times in which they live.

Watch the Sisters talk about their vocations. Or, visit the Mount’s Youtube Channel.

Meet Your Vocation Minister: Sister Marcia Ziska

I was introduced to the sisters in the 2nd grade. Sister Bertrand was a joy-filled woman and I wanted to be like her. I believe she planted the seed in my heart of perhaps becoming a sister. That seed was nourished and nurtured in my family as I continued to grow and when I was again with the sisters during my high school and college years. 

During high school I spoke seriously with several sisters about religious life. I was advised to attend college, which I did. After college graduation I wanted some work experience, however, the seed planted earlier was never far from my mind and heart. 

It was a community familiar to me since they taught me in the 2nd grade, high school and college. The Benedictines took me to the Mount to look at the college when I was both a junior and senior in high school. I felt very much “at home” on both visits. After college I corresponded with several sisters and through those relationships and my own prayer was drawn back to explore monastic life with them.

I was in a dating relationship that seemed serious. I felt anxious about telling my boyfriend I thought I had a vocation to religious life.

I prayed and then had a conversation with him over dinner one evening about a new adventure that was on the horizon for me. 

After working two and a half years in a parish, the scriptures kept speaking to my heart. A poignant passage from John’s gospel in which Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him ends with three words: “Come follow me!” My heart was pricked. I felt the need to listen to my heart and to respond to God’s call. I needed to find out whether community and religious life for me. 

We had monthly hermit days at a convent next door to St. Patrick’s Church located south of Atchison. Having grown up on a farm I enjoyed the outdoors. Our novitiate retreat began in this setting; my formation director, Sr. Evelyn guided me in praying with the scriptures in such a way that they, as did God’s love, came alive for me. It was a very special experience and quite wonderful. 

I enjoy taking photos and making photo cards to gift others. I also make jelly for the monastery gift shop and for the community.

I coordinated a 30-day renewal program for English speaking Benedictine women from around the world which was held in Rome, Italy eight summers. Networking with these women, sharing together the Benedictine Rule and visiting the Benedictine historic sites in Italy has made a profound impact on my own vocation. I am forever grateful.

Stages of Initial Formation

An affiliate is a woman who has chosen to associate with the community of Mount St. Scholastica for the sake of learning more about the Benedictine way of life with the intention of seeking admission. The woman enters a period of prayer and regular contact with the community and the vocation director in order to discern her call to live the Benedictine way of life and to develop a relationship with the community. This affiliation period could last from six months up to two years.

“We intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.” Rule of St. Benedict

A postulant is a woman who has entered religious life at Mount St. Scholastica. During this period of eight to twelve months, the woman begins to transition from her previous lifestyle to that of monastic community life, becoming acquainted with the community life more deeply and its spirituality. She continues to discern her call to monastic life, as well as growing in self understanding through openness to God, self, and others in community.

“The concern must be whether the novice truly seeks God and whether she shows eagerness for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials.” Rule of St. Benedict

The novice continues to discern her call to seek God within the monastic way of life, living under the Rule of St. Benedict and a prioress. At the same time, the novice director and the community discern whether the woman has a vocation to Mount St. Scholastica. This first year as a novice is one of more intense listening to the Spirit’s call, giving time to solitude, silence, and study. The time spent as a novice includes two years, one of which is the canonical novitiate year and lived within the house of formation. During the second novitiate year, the novice lives on mission with other sisters and engages in a ministry.

“Come daughter hear me, and I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Draw near to God that you may be radiant with joy and your being will always be at peace.” Rule of St. Benedict

After both the novice and the formation director discern that the woman is being called to continue her journey at Mount St. Scholastica, she makes triennial monastic profession. Professing obedience, stability, and fidelity to the monastic way of life, the woman vows to respond to the monastic life on an even deeper level. During this period of three to six years, the woman, her scholastic director, and the community will continue to discern if she is being called to a lifetime commitment to the monastic life of communal living, prayer and work.

First Monastic Profession

First monastic profession follows the novitiate stage. This three-to six-year period is a time of growth and immersion into the Benedictine way of life as a sister, during which you will participate in community ministry and be guided to deepen your spirituality and integration into the community.

Perpetual Monastic Profession

Perpetual monastic profession embraces our permanent commitment to obedience, stability and fidelity to the monastic way of life.


Our promise to be faithful listeners. Hover to learn more.


We listen to the voice of the Spirit in Scriptures, in the Rule of Benedict, in the prioress, in one another. We are guided by the question of what is truly best for ourselves, and for the community. Then, we seek to respond with generosity and courage.


Our promise to live the Benedictine life together in celibacy and monastic poverty. 


Rooted and strengthened by our lives in this community, celibacy enables us to devote our time and energy as Christ, in the service of others. Celibacy allows us to share ourselves fully with the world. Monastic poverty asks that we live simply, balancing our wants and needs.


Fidelity to the monastic way of life is our promise to work through life and life's changes with God at the center of our lives.


We seek to be faithful to this way of life … and this life transforms us when we are faithful to it. It transforms us so that we turn to God in the midst of everything that happens in our lives — in joy, in pain, in everyday events. It transforms us during communal and private prayer, so that we can deal with the everyday experiences of life.

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