I have been a priest in the Episcopal Church for nearly 27 years now. My midlife crisis brought me to a number of understandings. One, to return to my cultural roots, learn the German language of my ancestors, and Two, go deeper spiritually after facing many of the frustrations and rejections of our religious institutions. Now at midlife, I have chosen the path of an Urban Monk. I have served as priest and pastor of a parish for most of my time as a priest in the church, but my focus and energy in life in the last 7 years daily consists of living as a professed Benedictine of the New Benedictine Community. My goal in the near future as I return to Mexico City to live permanently (I lived there for 15 years prior to my time in Los Angeles) is to begin an Ecumenical Benedictine Community in the heart of the City as an extension of the vision and life of the New Benedctine Community. The name of the New Benedictine Community is “La Comunidad de San Bonifacio”, named after the English Benedictine Monk, and Missionary to Germany.
It has been an amazing journey to get to this place. I know that I am not alone and that many are looking for a more sincere and focused path to God. For me the Monastic path has become my home!
Letter of Petition for Simple Vows
(Simple Vows August 15, 2015). Novice (August 15,2014)
“We have embraced a ‘new monasticism’ that is truly of the home and the workplace, as we seek to be as Christ to those we meet, and to find Christ within them.” Andrew Fitz-Gibbon
My dear travel companions in Christ. I have been blessed to spend this last year in discernment as a Novice of the New Benedictine Community. At our last annual meeting I formally began a journey which had lead me to the community time before that and also was part of a process of slow conversion into the Benedictine Way of Life that goes back as far as my Baptism (in danger of death) by a Benedictine Nun at the Hospital in Bismarck N. Dak. 56 years ago, only hours after my birth, and my upbringing at my grandparents home parish by Benedictine Monks from Dickinson N. Dak. And Living near St Johns Abbey in Collegeville Mn. which influenced so much of my spiritual formation growing up into my mid-life.
As I told Sr. Anna Kathleen the other day, part of the vow of stability is a vow to a specific community. In this case the NBC is that community for me! I can not imagine myself without that
Relationship now as a part of my extended family and spiritual community. So I humbly ask the community to accept my first profession of “simple vows” as we join at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Madison Wisconsin this summer. I consider the next three weeks that I will spend at the 2 Benedictine Monasteries in and around Munich as a kind of personal preparation for this moment in my journey. I am grateful for the dialogue, support, and welcome I have received since my first contact with the Community.
I beg your prayers as we continue to walk together in discovering the Way of Benedict as it leads us to Christ each other.
Vincent C. Schwahn
Update I am currently finishing my final months as a parish priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. I will return end of 2017 to Mexico City. I am also part of the Leadership Team that oversees the life of the New Benedictine Community after our founder Peter Pearson is now living full time as a member of the Benedictine Community of the Holy Cross in West Park New York (An Episcopal Benedicine Order)
This is my third year in simple vows as of August 1. 2017. Next year I will be in discernment for Life Vows with our community.