Life in the Monastery

At the mention of the word monastery several funny images becloud the minds of many people. For some persons it is the image of a very lonely and quite place where people don’t even talk or laugh with each other.

Augustinian Monastery gate, Jos, Nigeria.

Augustinian Monastery gate, Jos, Nigeria.

For some other persons, it is a place where some serious looking monks, who hardly smile, spend their whole time praying, meditating and reading the bible. There are also those who see the monastery as a spiritual prison where people foolishly go just to escape from the challenge of life.

These images are indeed funny. Obviously, life in the monastery is more than what many people think it is. Life in the monastery is quite unique and prayer oriented but it is not as “transcendental” as many of us think. The monks are neither angels nor escapists, they are human beings. They are not lonely souls running away from the responsibilities of life; they are community of brothers enjoying the gift of God’s friendship in each other in a very unique and special way;

Augustinian Monastery    Jos, Nigeria.

Augustinian Monastery
Jos, Nigeria.

they live a community life; a life where everyone is relevant, where everything is important and where every time is significant.

When you step into the monastery, particularly the Augustinian monastery in Jos, Nigeria, you immediately observe that life is organized and time is utilized. There is time for everything, there is God in everything and there is God in everyone. When we say everything we mean everything that is good; things like recreation, manual labor, celebration of life (i.e. the birthday of the brothers and special feast days), funny jokes, interesting arguments characterized by agreements and disagreements, sporting activities and spiritual activities such as Mass, praying of the divine office, adoration, benediction, bible study and faith sharing.

The brothers in prayer.           Jos, Nigeria

The brothers in prayer.
Jos, Nigeria

The monks don’t just pray, they also play; they don’t only read the bible but they also eat good food, they joke and laugh. In brief, they are happy people. They are happy not because they do what they like but because they like what they do; not because they are “in money” but because they are “in Christ”.

One word that truly captures the nature of life in the monastery is “beautiful”. It is beautiful not because the brothers in the monastery don’t experience challenges but simply because no one faces anything alone. Every moment and experience is shared. Good moments are shared; bad moments are shared as well as ugly moments. In fact no one does anything alone; the brothers in the monastery eat together, work together, recreate together, pray together,

Monastery Chapel in Jos, Nigeria.

Monastery Chapel in Jos, Nigeria.

joke together and even “cry” together. Everyone indeed is a gift to everyone.

Again when we say “everyone” we mean everyone. The monastery is not an Igbo community, it is not a Yoruba community or even a Hausa community, it is a Christian community; a community of different tribes, colors, characters, faces, talents, gifts but with a single culture- the culture of love and togetherness. Some persons think that the monastery is a place where individual differences are overlooked but that is not true. In the monastery, individual differences are appreciated and harnessed for the good and growth of everyone.

This brings us to the final point. Life in the monastery is prophetic. It is a speechless message to a loveless world;

Monastery Library    Jos, Nigeria

Monastery Library
Jos, Nigeria

a world where many are in the crowd yet lonely; where many find it very difficult to live together because of normal human differences in language, color, personalities, ideologies and beliefs; a world of individualism, sectionalism and tribalism. In the way the brothers in the monastery live, we see what life in heaven would look like and what life on earth should be like. In a very speechless way the brothers in the monastery through their way of life are saying to the whole world- we can live together! We can grow together! We can enjoy this life together!

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

117 comments on “Life in the Monastery
  1. Ada says:

    Thank u Fr for this wonderful explanation. Now i know! i use to see them as a kind of people that just sacrificed their life out of of this world for the church and Heaven. But fr, Do they work out of the Monastery like other priests from other congragations?

  2. Ada says:

    So Fr Joel, u re a monk?

  3. Ada says:

    Fr. what of other religious congregation, like Vicentians, Dominicans, ETC. re they all Monasteries? (1) What is the differents between them and Diocesesian Priests?

    • Both the diocesan priests and the Religious priests are Catholic priests sharing in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ.
      We do the same work and work for the same God. The difference is that the Religious priests live a community life and in
      vow of poverty; that means they own nothing but shares all things in common. The Diocesans may not live this life.

  4. Ojiya Dominic Ekpeme says:

    Fr. Thank you for your explanation. But what if you go for an interview in a religious congregation and you are asked to explian why you prefer to be a missionary priest rather than a diocesan priest? What will be the write answer?

  5. Michael says:

    Fr.thank u so much.What about those Monks that don’t come out at all.Those ones that live in the forest and cell,do they still exist?.I want to become a Monk and i have applied to some monasteries.

  6. Jumoke Ladan says:

    Came across this piece of write up while surfing the net, looking for a monastery to go to for a retreat. Thanks for the enlightenment, but I wish we (Catholics) can embrace the use of technology more, because apart from Awhum monastery, there’s no other monastery that has a website, it’ll be nice if information like this and other information about monasteries can be accessed easily via their website even Augustinian monastery does not have a website, didn’t even know about it monastery until I read your article. Nice one Fr. see ya on Sunday at mass

  7. Aniegbu stephen says:

    Good day Padre.Is it only augustinian priests that live in their monastery, Or are there none clergy living there as augustinian monks also?

  8. Aniegbu stephen says:

    thanks padre. father is the community doing any thing towards the possibility of having or admiting,non clegy and training them to become an augustinian monk

  9. ugwu shedrach chukwuebuka E. says:

    Pls father I want to be a diocesan priest and am from Enugu states nsukka ,will it be possible to be admitted at st augustine seminary jos, if possible father pls help me in other to achive my priestly vocation pls father.

  10. onoja godwin says:

    Can I visit ur monastery for a short period father?

  11. Ifeanyi says:

    How can you apply into entering the monastery of augustinian @ jos

  12. Ekugbere Alex Etaredafe says:

    pls fr. i admire the monastic life, i like to become one of them. how will i start. pls fr. prayer that God will show you if it is his will that i become his monk.

  13. luke Ubong says:

    Good work padre. Please padre I want to be a monk in order of saint augustine and there is no community near to me. Please can you give me the address?

  14. Chris says:

    Fr cant they start an active monastery in Nigeria for only augustinian brothers or hermit

  15. Benedict says:

    Thank you father for your explanations, but please give us the contact of the vocation director so that those discerning to join will contact him

  16. Ekwu Charles says:

    Fr, you have done a good work here. Jisia ike.

  17. Mathew Ohanehi says:

    Weldone Fr but pls can I know the state you from?

    • Peter NUHU says:

      Nice write up father,I am very much interested in joining the Augustinian Order.I am 34years old and a government worker. Can I be admitted into the Order? What are the requirements? Thanks for the information father.

  18. Igbazenda Peter says:

    thanks fr am very greatful for your explianation. I wish to be one among aspirants that will be admitts next seasion. May will of God be done.

  19. father i have interest into the monastery community am 24years i want to be a brother

  20. Ochada hyginus says:

    Fr.pls Is there any certificate requirement into the monastery?

  21. peter kimini says:

    thanks padre for ur beautiful enlightment am peter from warri diocese am 21 years old i have d full zeal to join d monastic life but i dont know if monks n seminarians are allowed to visit their family at least once in a year

  22. Matthias okeke says:

    Hy padre am matthias i wnt to knw d age bracket and if d augustinians are strict with a candidate dat scored D7 in CRS…

  23. Hy padre plz i earnestly wnt’s to knw wen d national interview is coming up……

  24. Jonathan says:

    Please Fr. I want to know the age limit for for Augustinian in Nigeria. Thanks

  25. Jonathan says:

    Please Fr. I want to know the age limit for Augustinian in Nigeria. Thanks

  26. blessing imum says:

    Fr. I want to be a nun can I join the agustinian ?

  27. Peter says:

    father are stammerers admitted?

  28. Samuel Joseph says:

    Dear Padre, I would like to go into monastic life, however I do not really know how to go about it. Please I would need a comprehensive guideline on how to go about it.

    • Samuel, there are different monasteries with different spiritualties. You have to first of all decide which of them you want. Augustinians? Benedictines? There are some others from which you can chose. That is the first step.

  29. Sebastian says:

    Hello father i really appreciate what you are doing. But as for cameroonians can it be possible for us to join the order since you are not present here in Cameroon? I tried in vain to contact the vocation director. But it seem like if cameroonians are not accepted.

    • You are welcome Sebastian. If you have completed your secondary education with at least five credits including English language, and if you are a baptized and confirmed Catholic, then keep the communication with me. You can apply for admission early next year. simply scan a copy of your baptismal card, school certificates and your application letter to me (ibhaluobeosa@yahoo.com).

  30. Benedict Ebere says:

    Thank u Fr. for this information. I’m 26yrs old and I just concluded my NYSC. I’ve been feeling called to be a Monk. If I apply wil I get admitted. what if I try the order of St. Benedict, will I be admitted?

  31. INNOCENT EMEKA NKWEGU says:

    Goodday Father, my name is Innocent Emeka Nkwegu I am from Ebonyi State. Father, I have once apply to your Order, but have not head from them. Please Father, what will I do.

  32. Okpoto kingsley nnaemeka says:

    Good day fr. Am kingsley please i whant to apply but i dont no hw to send my application to jos but am staying at croos river state. Padre please help me

  33. Gwer Oliver says:

    hello Fr, my name is Oliver, 24 years old with scool cert..I have a strong desire of joining your congregation but have not been confirmed yet. Would this be barrier?? And I wish to have a clear knowledge on how u people run admission from begining to the end. Thank u.

  34. Peter says:

    Greeting to you padre.Those with National diploma, are the considered as graduates. Because iam twenty two years of age with National diploma result.

  35. Chukwuma says:

    Father,is there any Augustinian community in Anambra state or any part of south east of Nigeria?

  36. Joseph says:

    Good evening fr, I am Joseph by name and I have a deep interest in your congregation. I am 23 old, how can I apply?

  37. Dear Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie, I am really interested in spending the rest of my poor life, serving God, after a much fruitless search for meaning in this secular world. Can you recommend a monastry or seminary where my dreams, could be realized as a monk. I should be approaching my fourties soon.

    Thanks for your sympathy, Ikechukwu Ibeka

    • Dear Johnson.
      One does not presume to take this honour, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was (Heb. 5:4). Pray about your desires, and if it is God’s will that you live the monastic life I recommend the Benedictines for you. I would have recommended my Order, but in Nigeria we take younger persons.
      Thanks.

  38. Dear Rev Okojie, could you please, tell me more about the Benedictines,please.
    Thank you for your thoughtful answers to my questions.

  39. Lest, I forget, how do I go about pursuing these dream, of being a Benedictine, as you suggested. I believe God has called me to his service, going from my personal experiences like Jonah who severally refuted God’s call. Again, apart from totally devoting ones life to the service of God, can one be free to pursue other non-secular vocations as far as they glorify God?
    Please could you be of help in these regard I mean directing me through some of the Benedictine Orders most suitable, you may wish to recommend, to me, please.

    Ikechukwu Johnson Ibeka

  40. Comisah says:

    Good evening Rev.Fr.Joel.
    Please What is the limit of transfer among CSSP , OSA ( priest ),Holy Ghost Priest & Diocesesian Priests In the aspect of their Work ? Again Can Bishop transfer Monks From one Monastery to the other ? Or from one Church parish to another ?

  41. Victor Adebayo says:

    Thank you FR, am 29years old and I which to go to St. Augustine monastery, are my still eligible for for the monastery

    • I’m very sorry Adebayo, you are above the age limite. For some reasons we have age limit in the Augustinian Province Nigeria. That is not to say that you have no vocation to the priesthood, you could try any other group. Thanks.

  42. Dominic says:

    Fr Joel I am grateful for your enligtment about your congregation God bless u

  43. Michael says:

    Father i want to join the order am 25 years old i dont no if i will be allow

  44. Francis says:

    Good evening father. Can one come to your ministry to have quiet time for prayer? If yes father, are there accommodation? If yes father, for how long can one stay? I need to spend time out of work to discuss with God without distractions. Thanks

  45. Nkwocha Anthony says:

    Padre, am 26 years old with national diploma and a final year student of National open university of Nigeria, a parishioner of st Vincent parish olodi, I have an interest to the monastic life and I want to know if am eligible.

  46. Igwilo Stanley Ekene says:

    Good evening Father, I have the desire to join a religious congregation because i feel the call to be a priest. Although i am still in my 3rd, second semester at the University. I wish to complete my studies before i join the congregation. Father, I need guidiance.

  47. Lynda says:

    Good evening father. My name is Lynda, Please I want to find out if one can cone for a retreat at the monastery? Is there any procedure regarding to that.I Also wish to know if there is accommodation for visitors that want to spend some days there.
    Thank you

  48. Ngwuta samuel says:

    Please Padre, Am Samuel Ngwuta by name, pls how can i apply to be a monk in lagos for i have searched but i couldn’t a monastery around lagos where i stay

  49. Ahua Isaac says:

    Pls father can u give me brief criteria about the st. Augustine major seminary

    • Dear Isaac.
      I guess you’re trying to ask how to get admitted into St. Augustine’s
      Major Seminary. You need to come in through a diocese or religious congregation; I
      mean, you need to be accepted by a diocese or a religious congregation first.

  50. John says:

    Hello fr. Remain blessed. Growing up as a kid, I have always wanted to be a rev.fr even when my parents aren’t Catholics. I waited till I finished secondary school and decided to switch from been a Presbyterian to a Catholic. I went home 2008 after writing my waec exams, met the parish priest there and explained everything to him. He asked me to wait till my result is out then we can continue from there. In the cause of waiting, I came back to town and somehow joined the army 2009 believing I can still be a rev.fr even in the army. 2012 I tried to write the exam while in the army (Edo state), I didn’t make it since I had little knowledge of Catholic doctrines, to cut the story short, I quit my job few years back but currently not in Nigeria, but wish to come back and still go for my calling, am 27years old now. Please I have always wanted to meet that one person that will guide me in the path of my calling, can you please be the one? Thanks fr.

    • Dear John.
      Just as you said, I can only guide, it is the Lord who calls.
      As long as you are a baptized and confirmed Catholic, you can actually applied
      to be admitted into the seminary through any diocese of your choice, preferably
      your home diocese or any Catholoc religious Order. I’m sorry, you cannot join the
      Augustinians in Nigeria because we have age limite, but that is not to say you cannot
      be a Catholic priest.

      I do not know exactly where you are based right now,but I think its good you have a chat with
      your current parish priest. You can get back to me if you wish.

      Thanks.

  51. Fabian says:

    Good evening father,
    Please I am 22yrs and am currently studying mechanical engineering in Ahamadu Bello university, will i be admitted into congratulations of Augustinian monastery ofter my first degree program.

  52. Nwankwo Chisom Calista says:

    Hello father, please i want to join Poor Clare Nun but i will pass the age limit before i will finish my studies in higher institution and i don’t know what do about it.

  53. Eke Cajetan says:

    Fr. how can I join this Order?

  54. John says:

    Hello Padre, I wish all congregations and dioceses have atleast have a blog to get information as you have done. Just like some persons have already pointed out, one major issue with information about religious places in Nigeria is the medium of communication. For over a decade I have applied and tried to make inquiries about many religious congregations in Nigeria through post and phone calls and even email from the few that has but the responses have been very very poor. I think there is need for congregations and dioceses to explore more better ways of communication, by so doing it will be a lot easier to get feedbacks. Thanks.

  55. Okoh Rosemary says:

    Good evening Fr. please, are all Augustinians monks?

  56. Okoh Rosemary says:

    please fr, my younger brother love the Augustinian order and he wants to apply. please I want to know if all Augustinians are monks.

    • Dear Rosemary.
      Augustinians are a religious group that live a community life. We are not monks in the strict sense. And by the way, your brother should know what he wants, don’t be the one to choose for him. Thanks.

  57. Felix ehimhen says:

    Holle father

  58. No Name says:

    I need a place to get outta the world for a while and heal myself before I loose it all. Need someone to talk to… Need someone to listen. Need a whole new strange place to be to dilute my hurting self like a monastery just for few months…

  59. Stanley says:

    Fr.. I really want to visit a monastery, but I don’t no how to do abt dat am in Nigeria Delta State

  60. Dominic-Mario says:

    Good day fr, I am Dominic pls what’s the requirements to apply to the Augustinian in Nigeria am from lagos

    • Hi Dominic.

      Thanks for your interest in the Augustinian Order. I’m sorry I may not have the details, but ince you are in Lagos, please do visit Our Lady of Lourdes Parish (Augustinian parish) at Coker in Suruere for details about admission.

      Thanks.

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