'Moving and humbling': 27 young Christians opt to live as monks and nuns for a year

Lambeth PalaceThe third St Anselm's intake at Lambeth Palace

Nearly 30 young men and women have been welcomed into the St Anselm's Community at Lambeth Palace to spend a year living as monks and nuns.

The intake is the third into the innovative religious community, based in south London opposite Parliament on the Thames. 

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote on Facebook: 'We've been celebrating today as 27 young Christians from churches around the world made a commitment to put Christ before everything else.

'This is the third group of people who've given a year of their lives to the Community of St Anselm here at Lambeth Palace. It's always an intensely moving and humbling thing to witness.

'The Community's vision is simple. We seek to give people an opportunity to recognise two things: the complexity of each other, and the simplicity of seeking to put Christ at the centre of everything. It's our hope and prayer that this experience stays with them for the rest of their lives.'

Community is important in the life of the Church because it has the potential to become 'a crucible of hope and development', he said, urging prayers for the 27 new community members. 'It becomes a place where we learn to live with each other in a spirit of love and forgiveness. A place where we recognise that reconciliation is not an optional extra to the Gospel: it is the Gospel.'

One of last year's intake describes in a blog what her year was like.

Cathrine Ngangira writes: 'When I left home to be a residential member of the Community of St Anselm at Lambeth Palace, saying goodbye was hard not because I was going far away from home, but I didn't know how to explain what I was getting myself into.

'Committing to prayer, study and service to poor communities was not a problem especially coming from a Christian family, but, being a monk (though part time) with vows of poverty, chastity and obedience was not a cool thing to do.'

She says she had preconceived ideas of what spending a year in God's time might look like: 'spending hours fasting and praying, reading and studying the Bible'.

Looking back, they did all that and more.

'I began the year with a desire to know God's will for my life. I expected it to be easy going, but it turned out to be exciting, tough and transforming.'

The Community of St Anselm is seeking a new Prior. Apply here.