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Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Monasteries offer taster weekends"

From BBC News

Religious orders in Britain are giving people the chance to "try out" becoming a nun or a monk for a weekend.

The Roman Catholic church is hoping to slow a decline in people choosing monastic life by arranging the weekends at Worth Abbey in West Sussex.

In 2007, Catholic orders had just 29 novices in England and Wales, compared to 217 in 1982.

This weekend's offer is solely for men but women and men can attend all other weekend sessions.

During their time at the abbey, they pray five times a day and eat meals in silence.

The weekends do not have a specific cost, although donations are accepted.

The rooms are designed to look like the monks' quarters and visitors are expected to follow the rhythm of their daily life.

This means rising at dawn, eating in silence while listening to a reading and walking to the church for prayers five times a day.

Ric Slatter, a media graduate who is on a series of weekends, said the weekends would help him decide if the priesthood was right for him.

"It's far easier to come on this try-before-you-buy, no-strings-attached event, than to knock on the doors of a monastery and say 'I think I might want to join'," he said.

"For a long time the celibacy thing was one of the biggest things in my head, like 'could I actually do that'. But the input we've had has helped to say 'well actually, if that was what I was meant to be doing then yes, I could'."

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