- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Genesee Lay Contemplatives

Recently our Abbot General, Dom Bernardo Olivera, wrote a lengthy reflection entitled: Reflections On The Challenge of Charismatic Associations in which he states, “In various places where our Order exists today, we see persons or groups who want to share our charism in one way or another.” Along with other communities throughout the Order, this desire has surfaced among our friends and benefactors here at Genesee. See how to join below.

In an effort to respond to this desire we have formed a group known as The Genesee Lay Contemplatives. The following paragraphs define the group and outlines its formation program.

The strongest characteristic of the faithful lover of Christ is his spirit of service to his sisters and brothers and his concern for their salvation

– St. John Chrysostom

Way of Life

The Genesee Lay Contemplatives (GLC) is a group of men and women committed to following a life-long search for God within the Benedictine/Cistercian Tradition. Sponsored by the Cistercian Abbey of the Genesee, they are under the supervision of the Abbot. A monk, appointed by the Abbot, serves as the Spiritual Director for the lay community and directs and aids them in deepening their spiritual life.

This is not an oblate program in the canonical sense, rather a relationship with the Abbey of the Genesee. Since their beginning in 1993, the GLCs have adopted a Way of Life so as to closely follow the Cistercian way of prayer, silence, solitude, and simplicity of life; and practiced as follows:

  1. Commit to a daily practice of contemplative prayer, consistent with Cistercian charism.
  2. Make time in their day for: silence to better attune themselves to the work of the Spirit within them; spiritual reading, including at least fifteen minutes in Scripture, to encourage and sustain them in their endeavors, and the ancient practice of Lectio Divina to form their hearts according to the Word of God.
  3. Practice simplicity of life in a way that will open others to the desire for God.
  4. Attend daily Mass and receive the Eucharist if possible.
  5. Join in the prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours. Morning and Evening prayer (Lauds and Vespers) are required; The Office of Readings and the minor hours are encouraged.
  6. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently to restore and nourish their commitment to Christ.
  7. Pray regularly for the living and deceased members of the Genesee community, including the GLC members.
  8. Because devotion to Our Lady is central to the Cistercian charism, GLCs practice a daily devotion to Mary such as the Rosary, Angelus (or Regina Coeli in Paschal Time) or Hail, Holy Queen.
  9. Attendance at monthly Days of Recollection is expected. Exceptions can be made by informing the Secretary in advance of an unavoidable absence.
  10. Write a monthly reflection paper on the reading assigned by the Spiritual Director. Additionally, members write a yearly review of life assessing their spiritual progress and development.
  11. Receive regular spiritual direction.
  12. GLCs are in service through the daily practice of work according to the Ora ET Labora, either for the good of their communities or in their life’s work.

Genesee Lay Contemplatives

Entrance Procedures

Those seeking to become a Genesee Lay Contemplative (GLC) must:

  • Complete an application including a biographical outline of their spiritual history.
  • Request that two letters of recommendation be submitted on their behalf (one from a pastor and the other from a spiritual director or in the absence of a spiritual director, from another qualified person).
  • Have all application materials sent to the GLC Admissions Director.

Once the submitted application is complete, the Admissions Director will schedule and carry out a personal interview with the applicant, A separate interview will be conducted by the monastic superior. Based on the results of these interviews, and the overall assessment of the Candidate’s application, the Admissions Director will make a recommendation to the GLC Council which will then vote on the application and will, in consultation with the Admissions Director, assign individual Mentors to each accepted Candidate.

Candidates enter in January under the guidance of a Formation Director whose role it is

  • To welcome them.
  • To help them understand the GLC Way of Life and answer questions which may arise concerning it.
  • To provide them with their formation reading materials and reflection assignments.

The period of Candidacy lasts for 28 calendar months (January of Year I through April of Year III) The first 20 calendar months (January of Year I through August of Year II) are spent in separate formation. The last 8 calendar months (September of Year II through April of Year III) are spent in common formation with all Committed Members. The first five months of Year I are considered to be a special period of discernment during which Candidates begin to discover if they are experiencing a call to this way of life. These five months culminate in the making of a simple First Promise of fidelity. During the entire formation period, candidates progress through a program of classes concentrating on the Rule of St. Benedict, the History of the Cistercian Order and of the GLC community, Prayer, and Cistercian Spirituality. Each month Candidates write and submit a Reflection Paper based on their formation readings. At three separate points during this formation period Candidates will

  • Submit a Letter of Intent indicating their desire to move forward in their candidacy.
  • Be interviewed by Council so that they and Council members may assess their progress.

At the end of the 28 month Period of Candidacy, the Candidate, if approved by Council, will make their formal Act of Commitment in May of Year III.

Committed Members

  • Abide by the GLC Way of Life
  • Strive toward an ever increasing fidelity to their commitment to grow into true lay contemplatives
  • Renew their Act of Commitment each year
  • Write a Review of Life (due in May prior to Re-commitment) assessing their spiritual progress and development
  • Give encouragement to newcomers

All Members

  • Attend an annual three day retreat
  • Comply with the guidelines of the GLC Council, which is the guiding and governing body for the GLC.
  • Write a monthly reflection paper on the monthly reading assignment
  • Pay annual dues, presently $100.

Joining the GLC
If, after prayerful consideration, and you are Roman Catholic you would like to apply to join the GLC, please contact:

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO (email-Fr. John Denburger)
Abbey of the Genesee
3258 River Road
Piffard, NY, 14533-0900