I asked this very same question seven years ago. Since I just made my final profession as a Lay Cistercian (May 6), my answer was “I hope so.”  Every two years, the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery (Trappist) in Conyers, Georgia, open their community to those who wish to discern if they have a calling to be a Lay Cistercian.

Lay Cistercians are not monks who live in a monastery. They follow the Cistercian spiritual practices and charisms of the monks and seek to find Christ in the midst of the choas of the world in which they work. Take it from me, it is not easy, but it is worth the time you take to die to self to live for Christ. It is time for those who would like to discern if they have a call to live this contemplative lifestyle to contact the Lay Cistercians to begin the discernment process. What follows is what you can read on the

What are Lay Cistercians?

We are Catholics with varied responsibilities. Some have jobs and some are retired; some are married, some are single; some are old, some are young; some have families, and some do not. We are ordinary people who have chosen a path that sustains and nourishes us, bringing us closer to God. We have adapted what we can from the monastic world and integrated its rewards and challenges into our everyday lives. Through the Cistercian practices, we strive to understand and live the Rule of St. Benedict while living in the world. In some ways, everything changes and nothing changes. Our outward appearances remain unaltered; our interior life is profoundly changed. We are Lay Cistercians.

Are you associated with the Cistercian Order?

Lay Cistercians are associated with a number of Cistercian [Trappist] monasteries around the world. Our group is associated with the Monastery of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, located in Conyers, Georgia. The monks of the monastery support our group by their prayers and by providing a monastic advisor who guides us.


What does this have to do with me?

Perhaps you are being called to travel this path along with men and women from all walks of life who seek to apply the Cistercian way of living to their own spiritual life. We have come to drink deeply at the well of contemplation, co-mingling life in the world with the spiritual practices of Cistercian monasticism.

Are there requirements for beginning the journey? 

Becoming a Lay Cistercian is open to all Catholic adults. It is a serious commitment. A period of inquiry of several informal meetings is followed by a five year period of formation in conjunction with our monthly Gathering Day. Individuals, who then elect to do so, and are accepted by the monastic advisor and the community, may make formal promises of commitment to the Lay Cistercian way of life.


What about spiritual practices?

We have spiritual practices similar to those of the monastic community. However, our practices may be limited by the reality of our daily lives. As lay persons, we strive on a daily basis to live the characteristics that define the Cistercians. They include

• frequent participation in Mass and reception of Holy Eucharist

• regular daily prayer times to read Liturgy of the Hours [Divine Office].

• daily spiritual reading and meditation [lectio divina]

• seeking opportunities for silence, solitude, contemplation

• reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis

• monthly attendance for community Gathering Day

• annual weekend retreat


Contact Us

Send applications to:

Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit
c/o Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit
2625 Highway 212 SW
Conyers, GA  30094
Out of the chaos of sixth century Italy, Benedict of Nursia listened with the ear of his heart and heard the call of God. His affirmative answer led to the establishment of what he called “a little school of love.” His communal way of life was codified in the Rule of St. Benedict and became the foundation of Western monasticism. The founders of the Cistercian Order heard a similar call in the year 1098. Under the influence of St. Bernard, it became one of the most dynamic religious orders in history.


Below is a copy of an application that you can copy and send to Lay Cistercian Council.



Please complete the following if you are interested in joining the Lay Cistercian Community




(Please include city, state, and zip code)

Telephone:      Home:                                     Cell:

Work:                                      Fax:



Are you a practicing Roman Catholic?

Is your family supportive of your becoming a Lay Cistercian?

Are you able to attend monthly meetings (held on Sunday_?

Have you done the following:

Read about the Lay Cistercian community on the monastery website?

Attended a Cistercian Spirituality retreat at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery?

(contact rhouse@trappist net for reservations)

Met with any members of the Lay Cistercian community? Names:

How did you hear about Lay Cistercians?


Any comments or questions?

Please return to Lay Cistercian Community, Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Highway 212 SW, Conyers, Georgia 30094-4044


This lifestyle is not for everyone, but it is for anyone who wishes to grow the capacity to receive God in your heart and love Christ as He has loved you using Cistercian practices and charisms (hospitality, humility and obedience, silence and soitude). You are discerning if you have a call to the contemplative lifestyle as practiced by Lay Cistercians. Read my blog at: and http://www.carlmccolman,com  to see a few sources of Lay Cistercian thought.

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –-Cistercian doxology


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