Monk Profiles: Br. Matthew Nylund

I was born in New York and grew up on Long Island, where I attended public schools. I studied at Antioch College in Ohio and Fordham University in New York, and did graduate work in history at Columbia University. During this time I spent a year in France, and made a number of extended visits to Mexico. I worked for twenty years at various publishing houses in New York.

As I entered my thirties I came to feel that I was called to a life that would embody my Catholic faith more fully. I resisted this call however for some years. In the end, when I was over the age at which most monasteries then accepted candidates, I visited Holy Cross Abbey in Virginia, stayed on a long retreat there, and was accepted into the novitiate. I was quite happy there, but I was aware that the intensity of the silence and solitude in the Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists) would, over time, be beyond my capacity. Therefore I applied to St. Anselm’s in Washington, where I was admitted and have lived since 1987.

Life at St. Anselm’s seemed to follow a middle path between a contemplative and an active focus, with various members of the community inclining more toward one or the other of those poles. For me, each day here is punctuated by participation in the divine office of community prayer, work in the abbey school, where I teach Spanish, and silent prayer and meditation. Each of these allows me access to what is at the heart of monastic life, the life and work of God in our world. I do not believe that participation in this would have been possible for me elsewhere and I thank God for guiding me to this place.

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