The Monastic Vocation

We came to the shore of Lake Superior at Eagle Harbor in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s Keweenaw County in late Summer of 1983 and began the struggle of building this monastery. The unlikely work of picking wild berries and making jam we undertook during our first summer proved the seed of larger things. Our jam shop and bakery, Jampot, has become one of the best known businesses in our area and now more than provides for our physical needs.

Group Photo

A monastery is more than buildings, business, or outreach. Important as these things are to its life and growth, they do not constitute its essence. Nor can it be reduced to a concept, schedule, program, or rule of life; it cannot exist as an abstraction. Monasticism must be lived, incarnated in the daily life and work of a specific community of real men. It is the community, not the buildings or the concept, that constitutes the monastery.

The Lord has blessed us with growth in this, as well. We pray the growth continue. We invite Catholic men of any Rite — and other sincere men willing to embrace our Faith and Rite — who are free of canonical impediment, to explore the possibility of life in this holy monastery.

We are building a monastery on the shore of Lake Superior.

Church construction

This is not a matter of pride for us, we see in it no particular distinction. In truth, God is the Builder, we are but His unworthy instruments . Called more than twenty-five years ago to the task of founding a monastery dedicated to building up God's Kingdom through the arts, we joyfully persevere in the struggle, mindful of the long road ahead and grateful for the many consolations and graces the Lord continues to provide. Truly, He has prospered the work of our hands.

Among the greatest of the Lord’s many blessings, we count the way of life He has handed on to us through the holy Fathers of the Christian East, the Brotherhood which incarnates that way of life in this particular place, and the Byzantine liturgical tradition which so powerfully manifests God’s presence in our midst.

Prayer is the essence of monastic life; and liturgical prayer, the Divine Liturgy and Divine Office, is the most important function of our monastery. The four or five hours per day we normally spend praying together in choir constitute our noblest endeavor, our greatest benefit to the world. They also represent our closest connection with one another and a deep intimacy with God. Lifting our voices together in centuries-old hymns, chanting the Lord’s praise and begging His mercy on this sinful and weary world of ours, we know we are heard, indeed, that He is there among us (Mt. 18:19-20.

Monks in Prayer

Having experienced God’s presence in the liturgical assembly, our personal prayer and meditation become more fruitful; we more readily turn to Him in our hearts and open ourselves for His action upon us. This is a long-tested aid in attaining to the principal purpose of monastic life: the sanctification of the monks themselves. We cannot bring this about ourselves, rather, God effects it in us. Our part is to love Him totally and to allow Him to consume our lives.

To that end, we practice the various renunciations traditional to religious life. Commonly called the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience — to which monks add a vow of stability — these Evangelical Counsels seek to eliminate the many distractions and obstacles that plague us in the world and impede our openness to God. Setting aside acquisitiveness, sexual desire, self will, and wanderlust, we are free to devote ourselves to God. Emptying ourselves of worldly concerns, we make room for the Divine.

A monk playing the harp

While not rejecting many of the benefits of modern technology, we live simply and closely. We possess no personal property or space, sharing a dormitory and bathing area in common, as well as all other sectors of the monastery. We work together at our shop for the support of the Brethren, and spend as much time in personal prayer and meditation as our schedule allows. We also make time for some recreation each week and for developing the various artistic talents the Lord has bestowed upon us for the service of His glory.

In short, we live the busy life of pioneers and trust in the special graces the Lord grants to monastic founders. We are supported in the struggle by the close family spirit that animates our Brotherhood and by the knowledge that each of us is contributing in a decisive way toward building a thing of beauty for God. In this great work, we find peace, contentment, and abundant joy. We long to share.

The Lord has called each of us to this holy task in diverse ways. We trust He is also calling others. Perhaps you! We invite you to pray and seek more information. May our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ be a light for your path.

Experience Monastery Life

The sketchy information contained here cannot, of course, give a full picture of our life. In particular, words are inadequate for conveying the power and beauty of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy and choral Office that illuminate our spiritual life. We do hope, however, that it will move you to find out more.

You may request printed information by email, or for various articles and photos illustrating some of the many aspects of our life and spiritual outlook, see our Vocations Newseltter and other sections of the website.

But the very best way to learn about our monastery and way of life is to “come and see”. A visit here will allow you to observe many aspects of our life at close hand and to experience the round of liturgical prayer that frames and distinguishes our life.

For men interested in the possibility of a vocation to the monastic life, we offer discernment retreats of up to a week in length throughout the year. Please write or us with some information about yourself and details regarding scheduling a visit. We look forward to hearing from you soon.