Frauenberg pilgrimage church - Frater Josef & Frater Georg © Sabine Breitfuss

Why young men become monks

WHY YOUNG MEN BECOME MONKS 

 

Frater Georg Roth and Frater Markus Kraemer knew from childhood that they wanted to become priests. Both joined the Benedictine monastery in Admont, where they want to work in one of the incorporated parishes.

Profess Markus c Thomas Sattler www

Over twenty monks live in the Benedictine monastery in Admont. The low average age is striking. Some of the monks are just thirty years old. Brother Markus Kraemer is even younger. He made his temporary profession at the age of twenty-nine. A promise to commit himself to the monastery for three years. He says that he had already felt the desire to become a priest as a child. Key experience: the funeral of his godmother's mother. "That was the first time I felt Christian hope," recalls Frater Markus. Despite his original career aspirations, he studied business administration. Only later did he switch to theology. And he did so "even though at that time it was not yet clear where the journey would actually take him," says Frater Markus. Why did he ultimately decide in favour of monastic life? "Because being a priest in a diocese would never have been an option for me. I was simply far too afraid of loneliness. I'm not alone in the monastery. There are many people here with whom I live and pray together. It's very familiar." Were there also reasons against it? "Yes, the great distance between the monastery and my parents' house." 

Born and raised in Bonn, joining the Benedictine monastery in Admont was also a big step for Frater Markus in terms of location: "My father's health is not so good and if his condition deteriorates, I'm not just round the corner." The reason why he nevertheless decided in favour of monastic life in Admont was his trust in God, as he says: "I'm sure he's there to sort everything out if I can't."

Find a task 

Trust in God also strengthened Frater Georg Roth in his decision to lead a life as a monk. The man from Würzburg entered the monastery at the age of twenty-four. That was eight years ago. At the time, he chose a fledgling order in Austria. But "over the years, I realised that my ideas of home didn't match those of the order. So I made the decision to join another community," says Brother Georg. He found this in the Benedictine monastery in Admont: "I appreciate the connection between the spiritual and the practical." A combination that results from the Rule of St Benedict: Ora et labora et lege. Pray and work and read. "It's nice to be carried by common prayer and to be able to fulfil a task within the order at the same time," says Frater Georg. In his case, it is not just one task, but several that the budding theologian is aiming for. After graduating, Frater Georg wants to work as a priest and religious educator. Opportunities that are opened up to him here at the Benedictine monastery in Admont. 

 

Not an easy decision

Just like Frater Markus, Frater Georg already had the desire to become a priest as a child. But it was only after training as an industrial mechanic that he found his vocation again. Were there any reasons for him not to join the monastery? Yes, there were, confirms Frater Thomas: "I realised that I wouldn't see my family and friends as often. The decision in favour of monastic life was therefore really not easy for me, which is why I needed time to think about it." The separation was also hard for his parents and siblings, says Frater Georg. "As I know how difficult it was for my family at the beginning that we now see each other less often, I am all the more grateful for how much they support my vocation to be a priest and religious." 

Frauenberg pilgrimage church - Frater Josef & Frater Georg © Sabine Breitfuss

Follow the call of God

And what about the desire to start a family of his own? The answer to this is surprising: "That was never an issue for me," says Frater Georg straightforwardly. But it was for Frater Markus, as he says himself: "Of course you also ask yourself whether you want to start a family yourself one day. But if God calls you, then you should follow. I want to embark on this path. And if the consequence is not having your own family, then so be it. Ultimately, you give up a lot as a monk. But on the other hand, you get a lot more."

Frauenberg pilgrimage church - Frater Josef & Frater Georg © Sabine Breitfuss
Frauenberg pilgrimage church - Frater Josef & Frater Georg © Sabine Breitfuss
Profess Markus c Thomas Sattler www
Profess Markus c Thomas Sattler www
Profess Markus c Thomas Sattler www
Admont Abbey Dressing of Frater Markus 5
Frauenberg pilgrimage church - Frater Josef & Frater Georg © Sabine Breitfuss
Admont Abbey - Professed Frater Markus © Thomas Sattler
Profess Markus c Thomas Sattler www
Frauenberg pilgrimage church - Frater Josef & Frater Georg © Sabine Breitfuss
Frauenberg pilgrimage church - Frater Josef & Frater Georg © Sabine Breitfuss
Admont Abbey Dressing of Frater Markus 7