What to Expect

The Monastery Church of St. Augustine, photo by Br. Randy, OHCIf this is your first visit with us, you have questions about what to expect of your stay at the Monastery. You will have a comfortable, simply furnished private room (with shared bathroom facilities). The guestrooms are heated but not air conditioned.

On your scheduled date of arrival, you may check-in after 2 p.m. You will find a full schedule of meals and offices (the daily prayers of the monks) on the desk in your guestroom. Your first opportunity to join the monks in their daily round of corporate prayer in the church would be Vespers which is sung at 5 p.m. The first meal after that is supper which is served in the refectory at 6 p.m. sharp.

We request that you present yourselves for meals a few minutes before their scheduled times. Your presence at offices and mass is welcome but completely optional. Let the rhythm of prayer offices and meals guide you into the life of the monastery. There is lots of time in-between to just be, rest and respond to whatever the Spirit calls forth in you (naps and walks are enduring favorites).

At night, we observe the Great Silence. This requires all guests to refrain from conversation and any other noise-making (unless an emergency occurs, of course). The Great Silence starts at 8.30 p.m. and continues until the next morning at 8.30 a.m.

Parking space is available at the monastery’s upper parking lot.

On your day of departure, we ask that you strip your bed and re-make it with fresh linens. If you would say a prayer for the next occupant of that guestroom, that would be a blessing.

We request that, by 10 a.m., your belongings be packed and grouped in as small a space of your guestroom as possible. This will allow our cleaning staff to prepare the room in time for the next arriving guests. Your reservation is inclusive of lunch on your day of departure.

Upon arrival, you will find, in your guestroom, a document with a fuller orientation to making the most of your stay at the Guesthouse. But if you have questions that need to be answered before that, feel free to contact the Gueshouse Office.

Monks, photo by Br. Randy, OHCFrequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be a Christian to come to Holy Cross?
No. Everyone is welcome. But we do ask that you treat our religious tradition with respect.

Can I attend the worship services of the Monastic Community?
Yes. All our worship services are open to the public. Guests are welcome to attend any and all services, but are not required to attend any. We do find most retreats are enhanced by attending at least some services.

Monks at the Holy Cross House in South Africa, photo by Br. Randy, OHCI’m not Episcopalian, can I still receive Eucharist?
Yes. Our table is open to all baptized Christians.

When are the Guest Houses open?

Our houses are usually open from Tuesday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. On Tuesday supper is the only meal served in our refectory. On Wednesday through Saturday three meals are served each day. On Sunday breakfast and dinner are served (but no supper). The houses and grounds are usually closed from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday afternoon.

Typical guest room, photo by Br. Randy, OHCWhat are the guest rooms like?
The Guest Houses were built to house monks and so the guest rooms are monk’s cells. Rooms contain a bed, dresser, desk and lamp. Bathrooms are located on each floor. The facilities are modest but comfortable.

Are you handicapped accessible?
Well, we’re getting there. Our ground floor is fully accessible from end to end with level access from the parking area and two accessible restrooms. We have a small elevator in our main building, but it is not wheelchair accessible. We do not yet have accessible bathing facilities. An accessible elevator and bathing facilites are in the planning and fundraising stage.

Sunrise on the Hudson, photo by Br. Randy, OHCWill I have a chance to meet members of the Monastic Community?

Yes. Meals are taken together and much of the activity of the community takes place in the public areas. The brothers live in the Monastic Enclosure which is not open to the public.

Is there a “vow of silence?”
No, though there is a lot of folk lore about vows of silence. We do observe periods of silence every day – especially from 8.30 p.m. until 8.30 a.m. We ask that guests participate in this silence as well.

Rocking chair, photo by Br. Randy, OHCWhat is the food like?
We have excellent food prepared by a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef. Dinner (at lunch time) is the main meal of the day. Whenever meat is served a vegitarian alternative is also available. Guests who wish to bring their own food may use a small refridgerator set aside for this purpose near the refectory. Coffee, tea, cocoa, and fresh fruit (and sometimes cookies) are available throughout the day.

What should I bring and what should I leave home?
Simplicity can be very helpful for spiritual growth, so don’t bring much. Simple, comfortable clothes are fine, you don’t need to dress up. A book or two might be good, but we have a library available to guests as well as our book shop. A laptop computer can be useful, but we recommend that you think very carefully about whether a computer will improve or diminish your retreat. A room with a telephone and computer is available to guests that want to check in with family or friends. Radios and CD players are OK, but must be kept quiet or used with headphones – they should not be audible outside the cell.