Community is key to the Benedictine way of life. Many people who desire intentional, Benedictine life may not feel a call to vowed life. The Monastery of St. Gertrude is inaugurating something new:
A New Kind of Benedictine Community for Women: The Benedictine Cohousing Companions (BCC)
Do you feel a call to Benedictine, monastic life? Is a traditional vocation not a fit for you? Would you like to be a pioneer in creating a new way of living according to the Rule of St. Benedict?
People have been living monastic life according to the Rule of St. Benedict for over 1500 years. In the past most of those people took formal vows as monks or nuns. But today many people are looking for new ways to live Benedictine life. In our rapidly changing, unsettled times Benedictine spirituality offers a time tested way to live a structured way of life seeking God above all.
The Monastery of St. Gertrude, a Benedictine women’s monastery in Cottonwood, Idaho, is pioneering a new way for women to live Benedictine, monastic life outside of the traditional requirements of Roman Catholic religious life. The emerging community of the Benedictine Cohousing Companions (BCC) offers women the chance to create a new form of monastic community in the midst of an existing women’s monastery.
The Benedictine Cohousing Companions will be a group of single women who will commit to creating a new way to live Benedictine spirituality. They will not make vows or a life commitment but will covenant to explore how to live according to the Rule of St. Benedict adapted for new circumstances in the 21st century.
This new venture will require women who are adventurous, courageous, able to live in community and who desire to live a Benedictine life. Does that sound like you? Please spend some time reflecting on our “frequently asked questions” and ask for more information:
Sr. Teresa Jackson – firstname.lastname@example.org
1) WHAT IS CO-HOUSING? Co-housing is broad movement characterized by groups of people who commit to live together in close proximity in order to form intentional community. The key is the commitment to become a community of mutual support. Each community has clear guidelines about what this commitment involves. Co-housing requires substantial time, effort and common understanding. It is not for people who are just looking for a place to live.
2) CAN ANYONE APPLY TO BE A CO-HOUSING RESIDENT? The St. Gertrude’s co-housing “Companions” will be open to single women (not married or in a committed relationship) without dependents, pets or emotional support animals. The screening process will be extensive and potential residents will need to be very actively engaged with other potential residents to begin to create community and shape what this new form of Benedictine living will look like.
3) WHAT MAKE’S ST. GERTRUDE’S COMPANIONS DIFFERENT FROM OTHER CO-HOUSING? The key is that St. Gertrude’s is building a Benedictine co-housing community. The core of this community will be the commitment to live according to Benedictine spirituality and values within the Christian tradition. While members do not become sisters they do agree to live a life grounded in the Rule of St. Benedict. This is an essential component of the program.
4) WHAT IF I LIKE THE IDEA OF LIVING IN THE MONASTERY BUT I’M NOT INTERESTED IN COMMUNITY? If you are primarily interested in living with the sisters, attending daily Mass and prayer but not making a commitment to building a new kind of Benedictine community then cohousing Companions would not be a good fit.
5) IS ST. GERTRUDE’S ALREADY DOING THIS? Right now we are working on developing the elements needed to form a cohousing community. Interested women are beginning to meet online to explore this idea. Our first cohousing residents will move in sometime after Fall of 2021 when we have enough women to form an initial community.
6) WHERE WILL THE CO-HOUSING BE? The “Companions” will live on the 5th floor of the Monastery building. One floor has been designated for cohousing and has been extensively remodeled to provide for private bathrooms, more room, and amenities.
7) WILL CO-HOUSING RESIDENTS INTERACT WITH THE SISTERS? Yes, the co-housing residents will eat meals with the sisters, participate in daily Mass, common prayer and all public activities.
8) WILL RESIDENTS PAY RENT? Co-housing residents will make a monthly financial contribution to St. Gertrude’s commensurate with the value of having their own room, private bath, all meals, utilities and amenities. The monthly amount has been tentatively set at $1,000.
9) I’M STILL INTERESTED. WHAT DO I DO NEXT? Please contact Sr. Teresa Jackson, email@example.com to ask about next steps.