William L Smith


Twenty-two Cistercian monks from a suburban Atlanta, Georgia monastery participated in ninety-minute personal interviews. The monks were asked specific questions about their families, life experiences, monastic vocations, and prayer lives. They came from diverse family backgrounds and life experiences. The main research question that guided this paper was: What role did family encouragement and life experiences play in their road to the monastic life? The overwhelming majority of the monks’ parents supported their son’s monastic vocations. All but two of the monks were raised in Catholic families and most were raised in what they considered to be religious households. Prior to entering the monastery, the monks had been gainfully employed in a variety of occupations and endeavors such as the military, education, retail, construction, the diocesan priesthood, and as a member of a religious order.
Keywords: monastic life, Cistercian monks, monastic vocations, Roman Catholics, family encouragement, life experiences


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