Belmont Abbey monk makes 'no small sacrifice' by professing vows
BELMONT — Brother Andrew Spivey made his solemn profession of monastic vows July 11 on the feast of St. Benedict, leaving behind his former life and committing to stability, obedience and adhering to a monastic manner of life.
Brother Andrew now joins 15 other fully professed monks at the Benedictine monastery, founded in 1876, where he will live for the rest of his life.
Principal celebrant of the morning Mass was Abbot Placid Solari. Bishop Peter Jugis and Bishop Emeritus William Curlin attended the Mass in choir. They were joined by concelebrants who included diocesan Vicar General and Chancellor Monsignor Mauricio West and eight visiting priests. During the Mass, Brother Andrew also received the traditional clothing of a monk: the cowl, a hooded cloak.
"You will come to accept the loss of things that once were yours, for you did indeed leave much. It was no small sacrifice to come to this monastery: your career, your own home, the circle of friends," Abbot Placid told Brother Andrew.
Before he became a monk, Brother Andrew lived a social life in New York, enjoying music and poetry. He earned his master's degree in library science and worked at the New York Academy of Medicine and then at the New York University School of Medicine, where he was in charge of curriculum development for the library.
Yet even before he came to the monastery, Brother Andrew was firmly planted in prayer and his relationship with God.
After inquiring with several other monasteries, he came to Belmont Abbey in 2005. He made his first vows in 2008, then spent the next several years moving more fully into the life and work of the monastic community. He now finds comfort in the prayerful life of a religious, saying, "The Divine Office is the escape from the trap."
While he recognizes his "daily struggles," it is in the routine prayer of the monastery that he constantly grows closer to God. Not that he has some drastic spiritual experience every time. "I'm not levitating during prayer or anything like that," he says, laughing. But, he says, he does feel differently at Vespers (evening prayer) than he did in the morning at Lauds (morning prayer). There is a degree of change, in which he recognizes he is somehow closer to God.
By participating in this repetitive life of routine prayer ("check ups," he calls it), Brother Andrew takes comfort in knowing he is "cultivating constant availability" to God.
Brother Andrew now serves as a master of ceremonies and sacristan for the monastery. He is also a gardener and librarian. Though he works only part-time in the Belmont Abbey College library, he says, "at some point I'll go to full-time at the college. However, the abbot and I are still talking about what the future looks like."
Pictured above: Brother Andrew Spivey recites his vows July 11, the feast of St. Benedict, as he makes his final profession as a Benedictine monk at Belmont Abbey. (SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald)
Celebrating his 65th anniversary
July 11 was also a special day for Father Kenneth Geyer, who celebrated the 65th anniversary of first profession of vows. Father Geyer made his profession of vows at Belmont Abbey on July 11, 1946. Abbot Placid thanked Father Geyer for his "fidelity and service to our monastery and college community." And he told Brother Andrew, "I trust that Father Kenneth's example of fidelity is an encouragement to you."
-- Christopher Lux, correspondent
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