about

BROTHER AIDAN, OHC

Benedictine monk, gardener, writer, and lover of creation

I’m a brother at Holy Cross Monastery in New York’s Hudson Valley. We’re a community of men in the Episcopal Church, and we’re also Benedictine. We’re the oldest community in the Order of the Holy Cross, which was the first men’s monastic community in the Episcopal Church founded in America. Our Founder took his life vows at the Church of the Holy Cross on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1884. In the Order’s time, we have had communities all over the world: in countless places in the U.S. and in Liberia, Ghana, South Africa, and Canada. We currently have three houses: the Hudson Valley (West Park), Toronto, and Hermanus, South Africa.

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As Benedictines, hospitality is central to our spirituality. We’re almost never without guests. Our primary ministry at Holy Cross Monastery is retreat work and spiritual direction. We run a guesthouse that accommodate 50 people and run or host a large variety of retreat programs. We also have space for individuals to stay with us for times of quiet and respite.

We follow the Rule of Benedict, a 6th century guide to living Christian life in community. As with our reading of scripture, we are not fundamentalists. So, we don’t read the Rule literally. But its principles of obedience, humility, charity, hospitality, prayer, work, and love guide and shape our lives together. We believe that there’s no way for us to find wholeness in God on our own–we can only do so in community.

We take the same threefold Benedictine vow that Roman Catholic Benedictines take on their profession: stability, obedience, and conversion of life to the monastic way. The latter includes communal ownership and celibacy. We don’t marry or own property individually, and we seek to live in a way that is simple and sustainable and to provide a model of that way of life to those who come to us for spiritual guidance. Our community is extremely diverse in terms of socio-economic background, age, and experience, but we tend to be on the progressive and contemplative end of Christianity. We welcome everyone at our monastery, no exceptions.

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I joined Holy Cross Monastery in the fall of 2014, after having completed a three-year course at Union Theological Seminary in New York and a one-year intensive chaplaincy training program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. In November of 2016, I made my first profession of the threefold vow, and in February 2019, I made my life vow. I serve as the monastery’s Guestmaster and Groundskeeper. I am also a priest in the Episcopal Church.

After growing up in Dallas, Texas, I left for boarding school and college in Connecticut, where I received my bachelor’s degree from Yale. I spent two years living in an intentional community and working with adults with mental illness in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, North Carolina.

For a few years, I recorded a monthly video podcast exploring the intersections of contemplation, ecology, and the fiber arts. The episodes are still on YouTube.

Much of the stunning photography on the blog is courtesy of Brother Randy, OHC. You can find him on Flickr.