Christ in the Desert Benedictine Abbey: New Mexico

Dates: March 28th-April 4th
Group Size: 2 student leaders, 8 participants
Cost: $700

Quick Facts:

  • Participate in Native life-ways and traditions
  • Work with local community members
  • Explore environmental and sustainability issues

Host Community:

The Monastery of Christ in the Desert, Abiquiu, New Mexico, U.S.A., was founded in 1964 by Fr. Aelred Wall, OSB. From its beginning the monastery has followed the Benedictine life with no external apostolates, but maintains a guesthouse for private retreats where men and women can share the Divine Office and Mass in the Abbey Church with the monks. Besides maintaining the guesthouse, the monks engage in craft, maintenance and computer work at the monastery. A gift shop is also part of the monastery's income, which includes a mail-order department of books and other religious items.

The Monastery is situated in a beautiful canyon in northwestern New Mexico, surrounded by miles of government-protected wilderness, thus assuring and promoting solitude and quiet for the cenobitic life. The chief architect of the original monastery was George Nakashima, famous Japanese-American woodworker and architect. The electricity and water-pumping at the monastery is solar-powered, as sunshine is plentiful throughout the year.

The community at Christ in the Desert is comprised of men from several nations, though English is the language of the house.

VISION will be hosting an immersion into the monastic life.  You will be invited into a week of prayer, service, and silence.  You will be given the opportunity to participate in both personal prayer and reflection but also invited to the communal liturgy that marks each day.

"Ora et labora." These two Latin words -- prayer and work -- have become an unofficial motto of monks following the Rule of St. Benedict, who lived from about 480 to 547 in central Italy.

Daily Schedule:

4:00am - Vigils (choral office in church) lasts about one hour. 

5:45am - Lauds (in church) lasts about thirty minutes, followed by Mass. Breakfast for guests in the Guest Breakfast Room from 7:00 - 7:45 A.M. 

8:45am - Terce (in church) lasts about ten minutes. 

9:00am - Work meeting for guests outside the Gift Shop. Work for All.

12:40pm. - End of work period.

1:00pm - Sext (in church) lasts about ten minutes, followed by Main Meal in the monastic refectory. 

3:30pm - None (in church) lasts about ten minutes.

5:20pm - Exposition and Eucharistic Adoration (in Church).

5:50pm - Vespers (in church) lasts about thirty minutes.

6:20pm  - Light Meal until 6:50 P.M. in the monastic refectory.

7:30pm - Compline (in church) lasts about fifteen minutes, followed by Nightly Silence.

Food, Lodging, and Travel:

The group will drive a 12-passenger van to Christ in the Desert Monastery and live and eat meals with the other guests and the monks who call the monastery their home.. 


The trip fee of $700 includes van rental, site transportation, lodging, work materials for the site, meals, and programmed group activities. Additional expenses not included in the program fee, include: spending money  for souvenirs as determined by the group agreement and food en route to site (~$30).


The busyness and noisiness of the world make it easy to live a distracted and shallow existence. I come to the monastery because I want to live deeply. My annual retreat is spent remembering and reflecting on that which is at the center of life - God, gospel, and kingdom. The stillness of the canyons, the silence of the desert, and the simplicity of the brothers always help me get back to these basic, fundamental truths.


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