The unusual community that is the desert monastery of the first generation is not meant to be an alternative to human solidarity but a radical version of it that questions the priorities of community in other contexts. And this remains the most important function of any monastic community today—for the church and the wider world alike.

—Dr Rowan Williams
104th Archbishop of Canterbury
Where God Happens


The Desert Fathers and Mothers of early Christianity went out into the wilderness in order to face head-on those things in themselves that drew them away from Christ and his love. Their single-hearted search for God became the monastic life, which is still a way of struggle and total dedication offered for love. It is the deliberate creation of Christian community in a small and concentrated environment, centered on the worship of God and providing the structure, support, and constant challenge by which the aspirations of each member to grow to full humanity in Christ may be fulfilled.

St Benedict called the monastery “a school of the Lord’s service,” one where we learn Christ’s commandment to love one another, learning to love in the measure that Christ has loved us.