Even Monks Use Social Media to Recruit (Video)
You usually think of monks as being the silent type, and "tech savvy" would probably not be the first words that pop into your head when describing them. But there's a Benedictine order in Portsmouth, R.I., that is attempting to bolster its numbers via the Internet, using social media platforms like Facebook, blogging and online video.
They even offer a Gregorian chant ring tone, according to the New York Times. They've taken to the Web to recruit new members, since there are only 12 members left at the abbey. They're also intent on attracting younger members, as their most youthful is almost 50, and five of them are in their 80s.
The Portsmouth Abby website claims that "One of the most beautiful things about Benedictine life is balance," and offers videos showing their facilities. The videos also asks the question "Is God calling you?" and answers common questions about "becoming a monk." Men ages 18-50, who would like to get a taste of monastic life before deciding to join, are welcome to stay for a few days up to a week. This allows those considering monastic life to experience what an average day is like for the monks -- including prayer, spiritual reading, manual labor, daily conferences, exercise and rest.
The website answers frequently asked questions such as do the monks live in dormitories? (No, each monk has a simple but comfortable room); and do I have to give up my car? (Yes. In fact, no one is entitled to personal property. The monastery's goods are held in common for the benefit of all.)
To start the process of becoming a monk, the website says a man must:
- Visit the abbey
- Supply recent physical exam records
- Provide baptismal and confirmation records
- Supply official transcripts from schools attended, including high school, university, graduate, and/or post graduate school
- Get five letters of recommendation
- Pass a psychological wellness exam
You would then enter a three-year residential program, after which, with the consent of the community, the junior can make solemn vows and become a full member-for-life of the monastery.
And the monks don't just sit around and pray all day -- some of them teach at the local Catholic boarding school. "The principal work of the monks of Portsmouth Abbey is to look after the spiritual needs of our students and community, to be teachers and administrators and to give a model of the Christian life," according to the website.
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