Brother Jerome Aubert Professes First Vows at Saint Joseph Abbey
On Sept. 29, during vespers at the Abbey Church, Chad Aubert professed temporary vows, committing himself to three years as a Benedictine monk at Saint Joseph Abbey. In the presence of Abbot Justin Brown, the monks of Saint Joseph Abbey and the seminarians, he publicly committed himself to obedience, stability and fidelity to monastic life. He was given the name Jerome and will now be known as Brother Jerome Aubert.
As a novice, Br. Jerome, a native of New Orleans, has spent the last 12 months acclimating to his new life in the monastery, a year marked by a separation from the world. Despite the ensuing chaos after the Abbey was flooded with two feet of water last March, Br. Jerome has reaped the benefits of the peacefulness of the Abbey. Brother Jerome believes his first year as a novice provided a solid foundation for being a contemplative monk.
“This year of simply living the life of a monk, without many significant jobs and social experiences outside of the monastic community, has been teaching me to know myself individually as a beloved Son of God apart from the typical emotional high-points which would lead one to experience this. I am coming to see that the most important thing I can do as a monk is to be silent and trust in God’s love, not to try to affirm my own goodness to myself or anyone else through some kind of activity,” said Brother Jerome.
As he proceeded to the altar during the ceremony for temporary vows last month, Br. Jerome was accompanied by Formation Director Fr. Augustine Foley, O.S.B., and then clothed in the traditional monastic habit by Abbot Justin Brown, O.S.B.
“As the abbot was clothing me during the ceremony and the cantor sang, ‘Come to me, you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest,’ I found that God was calling me into a deeper relationship with Him as His disciple which I would ultimately find easy and light,” Brother Jerome said.
Loneliness, the routines of daily life and the overuse of technology can be distractions for those considering a monastic life. Adjustments to this new, and what some may consider, unconventional lifestyle, takes time, not just for the young men, but their families as well.
According to Br. Jerome’s mother, Vickie Brown, nothing really clicked for her son growing up until he was a student at Loyola University New Orleans, where he was involved with ministry activities, including, what she thinks impacted him the most, Awakening Retreats and a pro-life walk.
Past activities notwithstanding, Brown, like any concerned parent would, had reservations about his decision to become a monk.
“I was not thrilled to hear the news in the beginning. I said, ‘Why not teach?’ ‘Why rush?’ ‘You are too young to be making this decision for life,’” said Brown.
But after visiting the Abbey and meeting several of the monks, she got all her questions answered and became at ease with her son’s decision.
“I think it was Abbot Justin that won me over with his warm smile! The church and grounds are so beautiful and peaceful. It is a wonderful place with wonderful people and I am blessed that my son has been accepted in this community,” Brown added.
Br. Jerome says he has learned to be more vigilant in the way he uses his time, which has been difficult, but ultimately rewarding. He recommends some sound advice for others who may be struggling with a call to monasticism.
“The mere acknowledgement of this call in the midst of so much noise can already tell us that our desire for true life cannot be satiated by the fleeting pleasures and concerns of the world. If you hear this invitation and can accept its demands, take this first step apart from the crowd to listen to God’s voice, and earnestly beg Him to bring to completion this good work which you have begun,” said Br. Jerome.
To learn more about a monastic vocation at Saint Joseph Abbey, visit http://www.saintjosephabbey.com/vocations-home.