Following the Benedictine Way

Diocese Missioner Takes Vow, New Community Founded

Tuesday, October 21, 2021

On Friday night, David Carlisle, a priest and missioner in the Episcopalian Diocese of Northern Michigan, took vows to follow the Rule of St. Benedict, simultaneously becoming a novitiate in the order and founding a Benedictine community here in Upper Michigan. 

The ceremony took place in a private home in the forest near Big Bay. Participants included Bishop Rayford Ray and Missioner Bradley Pickens of the Diocese; and Father Chad-Joseph Sundin, the Prior of the Community of St. Mary of the Annunciation in Arizona, who took part via the internet.

The new community is named for St. James the Just, the younger brother of Jesus. Carlisle said that St. James represents reconciliation, stability, and the determination to stay with a task even if it is difficult or dangerous. Carlisle feels that these values are at the core of what it means to be Benedictine. They are also Upper Michigan values, and much needed in these difficult times.

Benedictines seek to find a balance between prayer, work, and study, seeking God in the ordinary. There is a special emphasis on hospitality and stewardship in the order, and they are known for their respect for others and their devotion to prayer. Carlisle said that the goal of the Benedictine movement is, “To serve as a sign for the world that people, strangers, can live together in peace and love.”

Bishop Rayford Ray spoke of why a Benedictine order works with the philosophy of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, “The Benedictine focus on contemplative prayer, peace and service is an ideal fit for us. It is part of who we are.” 

The Community of Saint James the Just will be the first religious order within the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan in living memory, perhaps ever, and people are excited. Bishop Ray mentioned that people have already contacted the Diocese about the order and added, “We expect it to grow.”

A family man with young children, Carlisle will balance his duties as a father and a priest in the Diocese with the demands of the Benedictine way of life. He knows that it will be challenging, but he is excited about the future.

He explained why he is drawn to this path. “It is a means to an end, in which the end is to be as good a Christian as you can be.”