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At its annual Abbot’s Table event this year, St. Benedict’s Abbey on the campus of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, showed just how attractive monastic life is — to the young and old.
After the Lumen Vitae award at the event was given to author Edward Sri and the founders of the Holy Family School of Faith, the event featured two monks’ testimonials.
One new monk graduated in 2016; another attended Benedictine in 1982.
Brother Jerome Simpson, a Junior Monk, graduated three years ago and entered the Abbey a year later.
He briefly told the audience his vocation story.
“On Easter morning of 2017, a Franciscan friar, after hearing my faith journey, looked me up and down and says, ‘What are you waiting for?’”
Brother Jerome — Timothy Simpson at the time — told him he was looking for, “a sign. Assurance that it was worth giving everything up for Christ.”
It was daunting, he said, “giving up a job, romantic relationships, independence, a nice income. I wanted to know the Lord was going to take care of me, that my desires would be met.”
On May 13th that year, the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s appearances at Fatima, “I recommitted myself to Our Lady and submitted to her my vocation,” he said. “A week later I knew God was calling me back to Atchison.”
Timothy Simpson became a postulant in the Abbey the fall of 2017. The following December, he entered the novitiate and became Brother Jerome Simpson.
“All that we have been given is meant to be poured out,” he said. “Otherwise it just remains one grain.”
What has inspired him to be a monk? “Our work at Benedictine College,” he said, and “our service to hundreds of prison oblates across the country and so many other things.”
Also, “The religious of this community inspire me to give more,” he said. “I daily see my brothers give themselves to service.”
Brother Luke Turner, on the other hand, attended Benedictine College in the early 1980s.
“I entered St. Benedict’s Abbey as a young man in 1982,” he said.
“Growing up I was sure God was calling me to the seminary,” Brother Luke explained. “I spent two years at Benedictine College then entered the abbey for the first time … But there was something calling me away.”
He spent many years pursuing a banking career but in 2011 left his position as a senior vice president for MasterCard International. Now, after completing years of seminary training, he is a transitional deacon. He said:
“I am no longer phased by the comments people make once they find out I have returned to religious life after a long and successful corporate career working in more than 40 countries. They expect me to talk about how hard it was to leave my career, my home, my car, my stuff.”
“That part was relatively easy,” he said. “There are challenges no matter what we decide to do, but I have to be honest, the monastic life has provided me with a happiness, a contentment I never had while living in the world, even with all my stuff.”
Now, he said, comes the sweetest part of all.
“I’m even more excited by the privilege of realizing a lifelong dream. This summer, on June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. I will be ordained to the priesthood,” he said.
Then, looking out at the hotel ballroom full of guests, he added, “And you are all invited!”