Drawn to Monastic Life

Abbot Benedict Neenan   |   Br. Bernard   |   Fr. Paul   |  Br. Mark   |    Br. Placid    |    Fr. Pachomius    |    Br. Anselm    |    Fr. Victor


Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB

I had considered monastic life for several years before entering Conception and even tried a smaller, less active monastery first, but it was the openness and welcoming spirit of the monks at Conception and a recognition that I needed both a good community and meaningful work and ministry that drew me to Conception.

What kept me here was wise guidance on the part of formators and spiritual directors and friendship with other monks through whom I found needed support. The liturgy, ministry, and community were very important in the process.


Br. Bernard Montgomery, OSB

Experiencing first hand, after several years in the seminary, the lived witness and lives of the monks, I felt the Holy Spirit’s gentle nudge toward embracing this committed way of living, which seemed to be for me the best way to fully accept the challenge of my Baptismal calling as a Christian.

Through the course of the years, I experienced in my vowed commitment to the community, the joy and satisfaction of seeking and beginning to find God as the ultimate truth of human existence. In many ways, it has been this quest for the Way, the Truth, and the Life which has grounded my stability.


Fr. Paul Sheller, OSB

The Holy Spirit drew me through my desire for simplicity, a structured life of prayer, and the idea of living in community. I also credit St. Joseph’s intercession and the positive influence of a couple of the monks I got to know and respected.

The consistent life of prayer and knowing God’s love sustains my vocation daily. I see the spiritual life as an exciting and lifelong journey of being able to come to know God in a more profound way.


Br. Mark Nelson, OSB

Praying the Liturgy of the Hours in community drew me to Conception.

I appreciate praying the Liturgy of the Hours in community, lectio divina, and the support of many wise confreres… and Br. Justin’s homemade salsa.




Br. Placid Dale, OSB

My initial contact with Conception Abbey was through my dad who is an alumnus. In June of 2002, my dad was shocked to hear about the shootings at the Abbey. For the first time since he left, he felt he had to return, and we came up as a family.
I felt a deep peace right away and was very attracted to the choral prayer and the seed would stick with me through college. The peace I found here, especially in the prayer, drew me to the monastery.

The thing that has kept me here and helps me everyday to grow in my vocation is our community. I am not very strong, and I found that I need my brothers to help grow in faith and love. The support and love I see in my brothers is what encourages me every day.


Fr. Pachomius Meade, OSB

I loved community life, and especially the way in which we all had strengths and weaknesses, but that we put those to use for God’s service in charity. Discipline and consistency were something that I struggled with, so the rigor of the monks’ schedule was attractive to chasten my weakness. I have never been one to come at prayers from a cerebral or cold way, and I need it to speak to my heart in a multivalent way. The beauty of our liturgy and its respect for silence attracted me.

While that initial call is important, I still must choose day after day to be a monk of Conception Abbey, to live my vows faithfully. I had a sense that the vocation and our monastery in particular were a true path to holiness. This is the place where I am most loved even in my failings and foibles, and I have grown to be one of the brethren able to do that to my brothers. If we are truly seeking God together and loving God in mutual charity, then the Father did not lie to me all those years ago.


Br. Anselm Broom, OSB

I was drawn to monastic life because I was inspired by the idea that success comes from purifying motivations rather than personal achievements. It seemed to me that the monks of Conception Abbey understood this. And, while the monastic life has taught me that my heart is more crooked than I first realized, I still believe the monastic life can help me.




Fr. Victor Schinstock, OSB

While I was in formation in the seminary, the community life of the monastery was very attractive to me. Community engagement was a significant aspect of growing up in a small town, and I recognized that the monastic life was a way to fulfill my desire for that community engagement that I had experienced in my childhood. I saw that community life would also keep me accountable in offering my life in prayer and work. I wanted to commit my life to God, but I knew that there would be times in which my resolve would falter, and the community keeps me going.

This is home. While in formation here at Conception, we take part in all of our apostolates and truly get to know Conception from the inside out. That experience either cultivates within each of us a sense of ownership and belonging, or it reveals to the man that he has yet to find his place. At a certain point, I knew I was home and that I was committed to Conception.

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