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Two Belmont Abbey monks take solemn vows

071212-monks-profession-baBELMONT – Brother Tobiah Abbott, O.S.B., and Brother Elias Correa-Torres, O.S.B., took their solemn vows as monks of Belmont Abbey on July 11, the Feast of St. Benedict. The Profession Mass began at 10:30 a.m. in the Abbey Basilica.

By taking solemn vows of stability, commitment to a monastic manner of life and obedience, the two men are committing to live the rest of their lives in the Benedictine community at Belmont Abbey. The monastic community, in its turn, promises to support them in this lifelong commitment.

"The monks of Belmont Abbey are blessed to have these men become a permanent part of our community," says Abbot Placid Solari, O.S.B. "July 11th will be a truly joyous celebration for the entire Belmont Abbey community."

Brother Elias, whose given name was Ricardo José Correa-Torres, was born in Oklahoma. However, Brother Elias says he feels that he's really "from all over," since his father was in the Air Force and was stationed in many different cities during Brother Elias' childhood.

Before coming to Belmont Abbey, Brother Elias studied Meteorology at Florida State University and earned his doctorate in that field. Upon completion of his studies, he accepted an opportunity to be one of the four co-founders of a new weather forecast service, Weather Predict, which originated in Florida and then relocated to Raleigh. After working with Weather Predict for eight years, Br.

Elias decided to enter the monastery at Belmont Abbey. In the summer of 2009, he made his first profession of vows.

Since becoming a monk, Brother Elias has taught courses in Meteorology and in Mathematics at Belmont Abbey College. He has also begun studies for ordination to the priesthood and has completed two years of study at St. John's School of Theology in Minnesota.

Brother Tobiah Abbott, whose given name is Derrick Lamar Abbott, was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina. Before coming to Belmont Abbey, he served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and was stationed in such diverse places as New York, Alaska, Japan and Hawaii. Brother Tobiah was raised in the Baptist faith and came into the Catholic Church and to his monastic calling later in life. He made his first profession of vows in 2005.

His current duties as a monk include serving as the assistant to the novice master in the monastery's formation program, overseeing and assigning the daily manual labor assignments of the monks in the formation program; and tending to the monastery's small fleet of cars, as well as the Abbey cemetery. One of Brother Tobiah's avocations is brewing homemade beer. Learn more about Brother Tobiah and his beer brewing hobby here.

071112-monks-profession-bacMaking solemn vows is the final step in what is typically a four-to-five year formation period. To become a fully-professed Benedictine monk, a man must first enter the order as a postulant. After several months, he may then request initiation into the novitiate. During the novitiate, which is a year in length, the monk takes classes on subjects such as monastic practices, Church teachings, the Rule of St. Benedict (which has guided the Order for 1500 years), Benedictine history, Scripture, and more. During this year, he works closely with the novice master, who is the mentor for the novice monk in the monastic way of life. The novice moves to the next period of formation when he takes his triennial or "simple," vows. During the next three years he moves more fully into the life and work of the monastic community.

"During that period, we are trying to discern if the monastic life is really for us," Brother Elias says. "And of course, the community is trying to decide if we're for them. We are also asking ourselves, 'Do we want to spend the rest of our lives in this community?' For Brother Tobiah and I, the answer is clearly a resounding yes."

— Catholic News Herald, Photos by Christopher Lux

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