The Contemplative Life Is A Vocation



"Loquere, Domine, quia audit servus tuus."

"Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."
To serve the Church as a priest or a religious is indeed a humbling honor which no one merits but which can be chosen by Our Lord for us. We must always pray for vocations to serve the Church in the priesthood and the religious life. The Holy Spirit that the Father has sent through Jesus Christ is at the center of a church vocation, just as Jesus Christ Himself is the head of the Church. For the COSJ, we have our unique formation process that has been established and endorsed by the Archbishop of San Francisco.
We want to help each interested man learn whether he has the vocation and the necessary education, experience and background sufficient to join the COSJ in our contemplative life of prayer and our Active Apostolate to the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
The short video below explains quite a bit about us and the ways we pray, live and serve the religious and faithful of the Archdiocese.

If you would like some additional information about the Contemplatives of Saint Joseph and our established requirements for admission and life-style, click here.
From time to time throughout each year, Discernment Retreats are offered at the COSJ Monastery in South San Francisco, CA. These are held to assist men who are strongly considering our contemplative life as a vocation learn more about us and for us to have the opportunity to pray together as a community to determine if God’s call beckons a man to join us. We invite candidates with whom we have worked via telephone, e-mail and letter and who we believe understand the COSJ sufficiently to benefit from a Discernment Retreat. Click here to download additional information about our Discernment Retreats.
"A vocation is a grace. By its nature it
presupposes and requires that a voice
should be heard - the voice of the Father
through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, the
wonderful invitation: Come!"

Pope Paul VI

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I have a calling to religious life?

God speaks to us in many ways, and it is important to open your heart to listen for His calling to a life devoted to God and the Church.  Some excellent websites have information useful for those wondering about pursuing and discerning a religious life:
You should also seek guidance from counselors in the vocations office of your diocese. They are most interested and experienced in helping those with questions about religious life.

What is the COSJ Charism and how is it practiced?

Our charism responds to the call of God to a life of prayer; contemplative periods of deep prayer and reflection daily. The primary spiritual components of a contemplative life of prayer are: 
  • Silence
  • Eucharistic Adoration
  • Lectio Divina; Praying with scripture
  • The Jesus Prayer
  • Prayerful celebration of the Eucharist 
  • Praying the Liturgy of the Hours
  • Intercessory prayer 
  • Character and relationship development 
  • Marian devotion: The Rosary and/or other Catholic Marian prayers.
  • Ora et Labora: Bring prayer into one’s daily work schedule. 
  • Active Apostolate

If I am sure I am called to the religious life, how do I know that the COSJ is for me?

Each potential candidate who satisfies the COSJ entrance requirements will come to the Monastery for a discernment retreat. We hold these periodically throughout the year and schedule men’s participation. Each is an 8-day in-residence retreat during which candidates have the opportunity to experience the COSJ life and learn more about himself and his vocation. This period gives our Superior the opportunity to help the individual understand whether the COSJ is truly his vocation.

May I be considered for the COSJ if I am already a diocesan priest? a Brother? a Deacon? a Seminarian?

A priest, brother, deacon or seminarian who wishes to apply to enter the COSJ may only be considered for admission with written release from his current Bishop. All other COSJ admission requirements must be satisfied as well.

Which forms of the Mass are said by the COSJ priests?

  • Our priests pray the Novus Ordo Mass and we frequently accompany the priests in Gregorian Chant in some of those Masses.
  • We pray the Extraordinary Form – Low Mass, High Mass, and on appropriate occasions, Solemn High Mass. These are typically celebrated in nearby churches because of the limited size of our Monastery Chapel and the need for musical accompaniment.
  • Two of our priests are bi-ritual – Roman and Byzantine rites. The Byzantine Divine Liturgy is celebrated once each week in our Chapel.

Is there a description of the COSJ formation process available?

A thorough discussion of COSJ formation is provided to those who have definitive interest in considering the COSJ as a vocation during pre-admission conversations. 
  • Postulancy is required for a minimum of three (3) months and a maximum of 1 year and is required to be spent in the COSJ Monastery.
  • Novitiates spend 12 to 24 months concluding with temporary vows of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.
  • Temporary profession is a period of 3 to 5 years, which can be extended for special circumstances, and is followed by solemn profession for those who have demonstrated commitment and embracing of the COSJ’s motto “The Contemplative Life Is A Vocation.”
Those with a vocation to the priesthood would progress to seminary studies; those with a vocation to become a brother would pursue that special, separate formation process.

What is it like to live in the Monastery?

Contemplative prayer is the mainstay of our lives and we make significant portion of each day. Some time is spent in community prayer including the Holy Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, devotions and intercessory prayer. This is the Charism of the COSJ.
One day each week is set aside as a desert day for each member to spend alone in prayer, contemplation, and deep reflection. Meals are taken alone; work and study are also individual pursuits.
In the other days of the week we pray together, share a community meal; we work, study, tend to the upkeep and maintenance of our living space and Monastery. We have time for physical exercise, prepare for liturgies and conferences, and we get to know each other.
Our weekend time is usually very full with our Active Apostolate to the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Details of that work are provided on our website.

Do you accept citizens from countries other than the US into the COSJ?

We are unable, with very few exceptions, to accept non-US citizens into the COSJ at this time. The uncertainties of US immigration policies are such that we have chosen to not invest the time and expense for legal costs associated with attempts to provide prospective members with temporary status to live and work in the US.

Can I keep up with my friends, family and associates with social media and access to the internet?

No. We provide access to the internet for study, research, and activities associated with our charism and active apostolate. We allow very limited use of hand-held devices and computers and do not allow our members or men in formation to use social media or other means to connect outside the Monastery.

I have unpaid student loans and other financial obligations. Can I enter the COSJ and continue to pay those bills?

Our formation process is a full-time commitment to developing oneself and your vocation. There is no possibility for a man in formation to earn an income. You would have to have some practical means to discharge your debts prior to entering.

If you have other questions not answered here, please go to our Contact Us page, and let us know what other information we can provide you.