Father JosephMepkin Abbey

“Is this real? Is this God calling me to be a monk?”

My call to be a monk at Mepkin Abbey feels like a long story. But God works in surprising ways and each grace builds on another.

My story started when I was asked by my Bishop to transfer from my parish assignment to take both a new pastorate and to start a new diocesan office. I had been a priest for close to 25 years and a pastor for the last 10 years in a parish that I truly loved and gave my heart and soul to in ministry.

When I prayed for the right answer to give to the Bishop, I was drawn to the Annunciation story and I was given the grace to say Yes – to be the servant of the Lord. It was a freeing moment, a real grace to be open to whatever God had in store for me. Little did I know that only a few years later more would be asked.

My new ministry gave me more time in the early morning to pray the Divine Office and do spiritual reading in a way that opened me to God’s presence in new ways. This time brought such peace and a desire for God that was bursting in my heart.

Three years later I was preparing for a retreat by reading my journal and listing what God had been inviting me to over the years. I noted that there were three things that stood out. I was invited to be a sacrifice of praise, to be poor and to be virtuous. I took these to Mepkin as points of prayer for my retreat.

After three days I realized something was happening. God was calling me to live these graces out more clearly in my life and I felt I was being called to Mepkin and sensed God saying “you’re home.”

The question of course was, is this real? Is this God calling me to be a monk? Fortunately, I had already arranged for a week of prayer two months later. This became a discernment retreat.

Father Joseph: "Is this real? Is this God calling me to be a monk?"My retreat director helped me clarify what God wanted. The question he asked put it right to me. He said, “We know what God wants, what do you want?”

It didn’t take long to say, I wanted what God wants for me.

This response brought a deep freedom to my heart and soul. A freedom I never before experienced, all of a sudden nothing mattered but God. All seemed different, so easy to deal with the ending of diocesan ministry, moving, letting go of all the things and people I was so used too in my life. This freedom was so overwhelming, so joyful, so full of happiness and promise. I wanted what God wanted.

I applied to enter Mepkin and on the feast of St. Joseph March 19, 2008 I was able to start my monastic life at Mepkin Abbey.

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