Who are Lay Cistercians?

Christian monasteries have been fountains of God’s grace throughout the history of Western civilization.  For centuries, these “quiet pools of fresh water” have drawn lay people who seek a deeper relationship with God and a quiet place to pray, spiritually refresh themselves and reflect on God’s teachings.

Some lay people, who have been drawn to the monastic spirituality of the Cistercian religious order, have found it spiritually enriching to incorporate aspects of this spirituality into their own lifestyles. These lay persons have found Cistercian spirituality to be a useful tool that helps them in their efforts to live according to the Gospel. It also provides a roadmap helping them in their efforts to become the fullness of the good people God has created all of us to become. The Cistercian Order has officially embraced these groups of lay persons called Lay Cistercians.

Lay Cistercian communities around the world, who are officially accepted by the abbott of their affiliated Cistercian monastery, have formed the International Association of Lay Cistercian Communities. For more information including official documents from the Cistercian Order, Pope Benedict XVI, and a list of all Lay Cistercian Communities, please visit their website at:



Founded in 1998, the South Florida Lay Cistercians are affiliated with the Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyer’s GA under the spiritual direction of Fr. Anthony Delisi, OCSO and Sister Lillian Shank, OCSO.  We meet once a month at Saint Jude Catholic Church in Boca Raton. Sister Lillian Shank, OCSO is our monastic liason; she has been a Cistercian nun for over 50 years and lives as a hermit with permission from her abbey. Our meeting days are always on a second Saturday of each month and begin with mass at St. Jude Catholic Church in Boca Raton, followed with a conference taught by Sister Lillian. After lunch we break into smaller groups making use of an educational program meant to incorporate Christian values and prayer into our daily lives using the Cistercian monastic writings and examples as an aid.  We make an annual group retreat at Holy Spirit Monastery as part of our formation program.

The Lay Cistercian movement is approved and encouraged by the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI lauded it in a letter sent to the fifth meeting of the International Association of Lay Cistercians. Key elements of our formation include making use of:

*The Rule of Saint Benedict

*Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading)

*Liturgy of the Hours

*An annual retreat to Holy Spirit Monastery

*Writings of the Cistercian Fathers and Mothers (among other notable Christian authors)

*Group discussion and sharing at our monthly meetings

If you feel God is calling you to be a person who prays and you would like to be instructed using the Cistercian monastic model, please feel free to come and join us as an observer for the morning session of any meeting. See the menu for the next meeting date. God bless you.

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