home contact welcome meet schedule spirituality events ministries tour links
Brother John Paul Heiser, N.O.S.B.
Brother Isidore Minerd, N.O.S.B.
Brother Albert Gahr, N.O.S.B.
Father Jean-Luc Zadroga, N.O.S.B.
Brother Pio Adamonis, N.O.S.B.


"Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ."

--Rule of Saint Benedict chapter72

Brother Albert Gahr, N.O.S.B.

I was born and raised in a devout Catholic Family in Kersey, PA. My family was very active in the Church and School of St. Boniface parish in Kersey. Whether helping at the fish fries on Fridays, working bingo on Sunday night, cleaning the school in the summer or helping park cars for Easter and Christmas masses, we definitely spent more than just Sunday morning at the church. The example of my parents is in large part what kept my faith alive during my high school and college years. Although I may have not been considering a Benedictine vocation, Benedictines have played a central role in my education, starting with the Sisters of St. Joseph's Convent for grade school and high school and the monks at St. Vincent for college. When I began to discern my vocation, the educational experiences sparked my interest in seeking an educational outlet as part of my vocation.

As I reflect back on the journey that brought me back St. Vincent, I can not help but see the patience of God working in my life, and how he wanted me to have other experiences to bring me back to the monastery. As I mentioned above, I was a college student at St. Vincent, but I can not say that I had the least inkling to consider the monastic life at that point in my life; in fact it took 12 years after leaving the college to bring me back to St. Vincent. After leaving here, I went on to work for a couple of years back home before moving on to graduate school at West Virginia University. All during this time I would say that I was a good Sunday Catholic, I gave my one hour each week to God and may be a short prayer when I needed something from God, but other than that I had my own plans for life and my own ideas of how to get there.

After finishing graduate school, I moved to Charles Town, WV and joined St. James Parish. Although I moved there for work, I quickly discovered that God had other plans for me. The Deacon in the church grew up in Kane, Pa and had the same Benedictine Sisters as I for his grade school education. With his encouragement, I started to help out the youth group and boy scouts. Eventually, I began to see how the example given by my parents growing up was being lived out in my life in West Virginia. At around this time as my involvement in the Church activities began to increase, I began to feel that there was something missing at work. I did truly enjoy the work I was doing, and the people that I was working with, but I just did not feel the motivation to keep working for my own personal advancement, but wanted to be more active helping others. It was at about this time, the pastor of St. James gave a very good homily about the seven men in his parish that should be considering a vocation. These are men that would make good priests and/or religious. I remember thinking how great it is to know that there are these men in the parish that I belong to, but I never really thought he was talking about me. About a week or so later, I had run across the pastor and the deacon who both said you know that you are one of the seven men I was talking about. I said are you sure? They said "yes"  and they will help me in any way that they can.

From that initial meeting, the pastor and the deacon helped me to find a spiritual director and allowed several opportunities to explore different religious orders and diocesan vocations. I was still in a bit of shock that I could be considered for a religious vocation, but early on, my spiritual director told me something that was very helpful for my considerations, and that was One will never see in oneself what others see in them . He also encouraged me to open my heart to different possibilities. I found that by entering into situations with a completely open heart allowed me to find myself as I was searching for my vocation. Being familiar with the area and parts of the community, for me a visit to St. Vincent's was an obvious 1st step. This first visit was nice and good chance to be reintroduced to the community from a completely different point of view. Although I was definitely not convinced I belonged here at that point, I knew that I would have to make a return visit. In the mean time I visited the Dominicans, Capuchins, Jesuits and a couple diocesan retreats. The one thing that was lacking in all the cases was the sense of community and family that I found at all the Benedictine houses. After about the third or fourth visit I remember thinking as I was getting ready to leave that I was home and I really did not want to leave, and shortly after that I started to formal application process that eventually lead me to be part of the Novice class at St. Vincent Archabbey. As I have taken the time to reflect back on my life, I do think God was calling me at earlier points in my life, but I was not ready to hear or respond to His call. I believe to circuitous route that lead me away from here after college and back here for the rest of my life was necessary for me to mature and be ready to respond to God's call. I thank God for all the help that I have been given to find my vocation and am very happy to have found my way home to St. Vincent Archabbey.