Monastic Formators’ Program

2024 dates : 11 March – 1 June
The language of the course is English.
The cost will be €7200.

Dom Brendan Thomas OSB, director
Fr. Javier Aparicio OSB, co-director

Registration deadline : 30 September 2023
Applications after that date will be considered according to availability.

Form downloads

Here are links to the two forms you must fill out and email to Dom Brendan: the Application Form and the Reference Form.

For your convenience, we have provided two formats: PDF and Word Documents. When you click, they may automatically download to your computer.

A 12-week program for those involved in formation in monastic communities


Good formation is one of the most pressing needs of monastic communities today. In the past men and women have been assigned the role of formator without any formal training, but with the complexities of our modern world, this approach is often inadequate.

We can help!

The Monastic Formators’ Program, founded at the instigation of the 2002 Congress of Abbots and supported by Benedictines, Cistercians and other orders, has been the go-to program for dedicated monastic training.

The MFP is where monastic men and women from all over the world have the experience of being instructed by some of the important monastic teachers of our time.

The program is designed to meet the needs of those working in the field of monastic formation, or are preparing to do so in the future.

So far, there have been nearly 360 participants from every continent and diverse monastic traditions. In 2022, 26 participants took part.

Who is invited to take part?

This program is intended for monks, nuns and sisters:

  • who follow the Rule of St Benedict.
  • who are solemnly professed (exception can be made for simply professed in particular cases);
  • who are working in or intended for some area of formation;
  • with a good working knowledge of English
  • who would benefit from a broader exposure to monastic tradition in order to integrate it in the light of their own experience and learn to communicate it.

Some bursaries are available to communities that would find it difficult to meet the costs.

Where does the program take place?


The first part of the program takes place at Sant’Anselmo. It offers a peaceful environment to study. It welcomes monastic students from all over the world who come to Rome to study and was founded to strengthen links between the Benedictine congregations and houses.


The second half of the program will enjoy the peace and tranquillity of Assisi. We will stay at the Oasi Sacro Cuore, beautifully situated amongst the olive trees on the hillside below the town.

The character of the program


MFP is an intensive programme that demands a serious investment of study over a period of three months through lectures and group reflection. The aims are threefold:

  • ACADEMIC: to provide a deeper appreciation of the monastic tradition and its values.
  • PEDAGOGICAL: to reflect on how we communicate this tradition with love and enthusiasm.
  • PASTORAL: to deal with questions of discernment and human and spiritual development.

Community living

For three months, participants form a monastic community, studying and praying together, but with a sense of pilgrimage to special places of our Christian and monastic heritage. These include Norcia, Subiaco and Monte Cassino. It offers the opportunity to share experience with those from different countries and backgrounds. The regular framework of prayer is part of the program.

Program content

The content varies slightly from year to year, but the following is an indication of some of the topics covered over the three months:

The Monastic Dynamic of Christian Discipleship;  Earthing Benedict:  Reading Benedict’s Rule in the Land of Benedict;  The Art of Winning Souls: Pastoral Care of Novices; The Paschal Dimension of the Monastic Life;  The Challenge of Living Friendship and Celibacy in Community; Sources of the Monastic Tradition: Basil the Great; John Cassian; the Rule of the Master; Desert Elders; Augustine of Hippo; Monastic History: From Benedict to the Present Day; Lectio Divina and the Psalms;  Helping Novices to Pray;  The Witness of Community; Monastic Commitment;  Spiritual Accompaniment in the Monastic Context.

Program directors

Fr. Brendan Thomas OSB, director
Fr Brendan Thomas is a monk of Belmont Abbey, England where he served as novice master for 22 years while running the monastery’s retreat ministry. He is currently serving as parish priest of the nearby city-centre parish of St Francis Xavier’s, Hereford. He has been the director of the Monastic Formators’ Program since its inception in 2002.

Fr. Javier Aparicio OSB, co-director
Fr. Javier Aparicio is a monk of St Ottilien Abbey and is missions procurator of the St. Ottilien Congregation. Previously he was prior of the community of Rabanal del Camino in the north of Spain. He has been involved in formation work in the St. Ottilien Congregation and regularly visits its communities throughout the world.


Various teachers from around the world will share their knowledge and experience. The program is currently in preparation, but the following teachers are expected to deliver lessons this year.

Fr. Michael Casey OCSO is a monk of Tarrawarra Abbey in Australia and renowned writer on things monastic, including prayer, lectio and the beliefs and values at the heart of the Rule. His recent books include The Art of Winning Souls (2012) and The Road to Eternal Life (2012).

Br. Colmán Ó Clabaigh OSB is a Benedictine monk of Glenstal Abbey in Ireland where he has been the monastery infirmarian and archivist. He is a medieval historian and is the author of many books and articles on medieval monasticism and religion and has a particular interest in the history of the friars.

Abbot Primate Gregory Polan OSB is originally from Conception Abbey, Missouri, USA.  He is a Scripture scholar, and under his direction the community has undertaken a new translation of The Grail Psalter for the English-speaking world.

Br. John-Mark Falkenhain OSB is a monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana, USA, and is a licensed psychologist, a faculty member at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, and a fellow in human formation with Saint Luke Institute. He has written: How We Love: A Formation for the Celibate Life.

Sr. Carmel Posa SGS is a member of the Good Samaritan Sisters. She has held the position of senior lecturer at Notre Dame University, Australia, and was the executive director of the New Norcia Institute for Benedictine Studies, at New Norcia, WA.  She joined the staff at Yarra Theology Union in 2018 and teaches in the Department of Christian Thought and History.

Carmel is co-editor of the journal, Tjurunga: An Australasian Benedictine Review and is involved in the formation programme for the monks of Tarrawarra Abbey.

Fr. Mauritius Wilde OSB is the prior of Sant’Anselmo. He entered the monastery of  Muensterschwarzach in Germany but later served as prior of Schuyler, Nebraska, USA.

Fr. David Foster OSB is a monk of Downside Abbey, Great Britain, who has published three books, on lectio divina and prayer and has a background in philosophy and patristics.

Sr. Manuela Scheiba OSB is a member of the Abbey of Saint Gertrude at Alexanderdorf, Germany. She teaches at the Monastic Institute at Sant’Anselmo.

Fr. Luke Dysinger OSB is a monk of St Andrew’s Abbey, Valyermo, California, USA, where he has served as novice master and prior. Trained as a medical doctor, he has taught such varied subjects as moral theology and spiritual theology and biomedical ethics. He is currently Professor of Moral Theology and Church History at St John’s Seminary, Camarillo, in California, USA. Fr. Luke has published books and articles on psalmody and prayer, including Psalmody and Prayer in the Writings of Evagrius Ponticus, published in 2004.


If you have any further questions or would like application forms sent as an e-mail attachment please contact:

Dom Brendan Thomas OSB, director
Belmont Abbey
Great Britain

Fr. Javier Aparicio OSB, co-director