Explanation of Different Monastic Roles

The Abbot:

The abbot has overall responsibility for the monastery including the material and spiritual wellbeing of the monks and those who work alongside them. He is also responsible for all financial aspects of the monastery. He has a council of monks to advise and support him as he seeks to be a true Father to the monastery. The abbot is elected by those monks who are solemnly professed and he serves for eight years. The abbot of Belmont is also responsible for our foundation in Peru.

 The Prior:

The prior is the abbot's deputy and is responsible for the running of the monastery when the abbot is away. The prior is also responsible for the day to day running of the monastery and keeps the abbot informed of what is happening. The current prior of Belmont is also the parish priest of the Belmont parish.

The sub-prior:

The sub-prior is responsible for the day to day running of the monastery when both the abbot and the prior are away. He is also responsible for the maintenance of the monastery and the abbey church.

 The procurator or Cellarer:

He is responsible for all the material things in the monastery including finance. He is assisted by other monks as well as by people such as accountants.

 The Infirmarian:

He is the monk who looks after and cares for the sick and elderly monks of the community. He also looks after those monks who are ill and visits those who may be in hospital.


The Novice Master:

The novice master is responsible for looking after those men who are hoping to join the monastery and who are interested in the monastic way of life. He also looks after those who have recently entered the monastery and is responsible for their welfare and studies.


He has overall responsibility for the monastic library, for purchasing books and for making sure that they are kept in a good condition.

 Guest Master:

The monastic guest master is responsible for looking after any male guests who are staying in the monastery. He welcomes them and makes sure that they have everything they need. He is often the first point of contact someone might have with the monastery.


This monk is responsible for making sure the refectory or monks dining room is keep clean and tidy. The monks take it in turns to assist the refectorian by preparing the refectory for meals, by serving and clearing things away afterwards. All meals are generally taken in silence and a book, chosen by the abbot, is read aloud.


The sacristan works in the abbey church and is responsible for making sure that everything is ready for each service, including the vestments that might be needed. He is also responsible for the sacred vessels such as the chalices and makes sure everything is clean and tidy.


The cantor leads the singing of the monks at prayer times in the abbey church.

Retreat master:

Belmont Abbey organises many retreats each year on various religious subjects which lots of people come to. They stay in Hedley Lodge, the abbey guest house, and join the monks in prayer as well as attending talks and periods of meditation. It is the job of the retreat master to organise the talks and meals for these retreatants and to make sure they have all they need while they are visiting the monastery.


A postulant is a man who has come to the monastery to see of God is calling him to be a monk. He lives and works with the community for a period of six months under the watchful eye of the novice master.


A novice is a man who, after he has served as a postulant for six months feels called to dedicate his life to God in the monastery. A novice spends a year in prayer and preparation for his temporary vows and is again under the care of the novice master.


If, after a period of one year as a novice a person feels they are being called by God to join the monastic community they, with the abbot's and communities approval, take temporary vows for a period of three years. In a Benedictine Congregation these vows are stability, conversation morum (conversion of life) and obedience. After three years they can, with the approval of the abbot and community, take these vows for life.