photo by Nick Wilkes Photography

The call to Benedictine life ~ becoming a sister is our loving response to an invitation from God

Discerning a call from God about becoming a sister is a journey of the heart, a process of discovering, exploring and listening to our heart’s desire.  To discern is to grow in self-understanding, to learn and enter into a deeper relationship with God.  Spending time in reflection, prayer and silence helps us to become aware of God’s voice and explore our answer.


Who is there with the love of true life and longing for days of real fulfillment?
If you should hear that call and answer “I,” this is the answer you will receive from God:
…I shall look on you with such love and my ears will be so alert to your prayer, before you call on me, I shall say to you, Here I am.”

St. Benedict’s Rule:  A New Translation for TodayPatrick Barry, OSB



Sister Lynne and Rosy engaged in thoughtful conversationAlthough it may not be loud and clear, God is always speaking to us—in real but subtle ways. God’s messages come to us through the events of our day and our responses. God also communicates in the voices of wisdom: words of Scripture, trusted friends, spiritual mentors or guides.

Perhaps you sense that God is calling you to live as a Benedictine sister. Although discernment is not a process of orderly steps, the suggestions below will give you some guidelines for your journey:

  • Establish a consistent pattern of prayer. Listening daily to God develops your sensitivity to God’s leading and will help you respond.
  • Reflect on your life’s experiences. What gives you joy? What attracts you and brings you energy? What helps you grow, feel more loving, serve more generously?
  • Talk to people who know you well and receive their perspective about your desires. What friend, mentor or guide helps you to hear your own voice and desires most clearly? Consider engaging a trained spiritual director to explore those promptings with you.
  • Gather information about our community and others. Pay attention to your responses as you read, think and pray about what you learn.

Above all, relax. Breathe deeply and know that you are safe in God’s loving hands. We are praying for you. We journey with many people who wrestle with these same questions. You do not discern alone: through prayer, conversation with others and reflection on your experiences, you will become more confident in recognizing God’s call for your life.


Visits, conversation with members, prayer and retreats are important in getting acquainted with us. Experiencing life at Holy Wisdom Monastery can give you a deeper understanding of yourself and your heart’s desires. We encourage you to explore further:

Benedict asks for maturity of character and emotional stability of those who wish to enter into community. That they truly seek God, and show eagerness for the Work of God, for obedience and for trials are the requirements for monastic life that Benedict mentions in his Rule.

A monastery may seem a peaceful escape from the world but it is designed as a “school for the Lord’s service.” We are a community dedicated to learning daily how to cultivate a healthful, life-giving spirituality together. This requires a commitment to work with all the aspects of the human person: physical, emotional, spiritual. It is from this center that we reach out in service to others. Psychological and physical health are essential for this way of life.

We welcome single Christian women, between 25 and 50 years of age, without dependents, to explore with us. In order to love and serve God and one another and to be of service to others, celibacy is part of our life. Women seeking entrance into the community need to have lived a celibate life long enough to embrace this choice.

It takes time and experience to know if you can be happy in this way of life. We invite you find opportunities to come to the monastery (see How do I explore further?). Once you have gotten to know more about us and you feel drawn to a deeper experience, we encourage you to apply for our Benedictine Sojourner program. As a sojourner you experience Benedictine life with us over an extended period of time and build relationships with our sisters.

At the end of six months as a sojourner, you are free to:

  • return to your daily life with the skills you have learned, or
  • explore community life further at Holy Wisdom by beginning three months of discernment with the community.
The call to monastic life is an invitation from God. To hear and respond involves listening to your heart’s desires, spending time in prayer and engaging in conversation with the community and those who know you well. Discernment brings clarity to our deepest life questions:

  • What is the purpose of my life?
  • What way of life most allows me to grow in love and service (e.g. marriage, singleness or religious life as a sister)? Which of these is most genuinely life-giving and energizing for me? What makes me happy?
  • With whom do I want to live and how will I express my love?
  • How can I use my gifts and talents and whom do I want to serve? What kind of work do I want to do?

With discernment, if you decide to continue and the community agrees, you move into the novitiate.

The novitiate is a time of continued discernment and response to the monastic call. Typically a year, your time is devoted to prayer, study and reflection. In regular dialogue with the formation team, you continue to grow in your commitment to Benedictine monastic life. A novice lives with the community, participating in the work and ministry at Holy Wisdom Monastery. The novitiate ends with a period of mutual evaluation.
First profession follows the novitiate year. As a Benedictine monastic, you promise stability, fidelity to the monastic way of life and obedience. Over the next three to five years, you enter more deeply into the joy and challenges of life in community. During these years your prayer, work and study promote a fuller personal integration and a deeper relationship with our community.
The years of living in the community after your first profession prepare you to know your readiness for final profession, a life-time commitment. For all who choose to make a final profession, formation continues as we seek God together according to the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict.


Do you have more questions?  Would you like to talk with a sister?

We would be happy to receive your call. Please call Sister Lynne Smith at 608-831-9305, or send an email to lwsmith@benedictinewomen.org. Or fill out an Inquiry form and we will contact you.

Give us a call.  Come for a visit.  We look forward to getting to know you.




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Experience Benedictine life with us over an extended period of time as a sojourner and build relationships with our sisters.

Pray and reflect. Breathe deeply and know that you are safe in God’s loving hands.

The novitiate is a time for prayer, study and reflection on Benedictine monastic life.

When you and the community discern the time is right, you make your life-long commitment to seeking God according to the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict.

With joy we celebrate our life-long commitment to seeking God according to the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict, and we invite you to explore the possibilities of community life with us.


Exploring Benedictine community inquiry form