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Monk Maintains Balance in Benedictine Lifestyle

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Fr. Louis Sojka '81 reviews some account numbers.  Sojka ends up spending long hours in the office but tries balance that time with prayer.

Fr. Louis Sojka '81 reviews some account numbers. Sojka ends up spending long hours in the office but tries balance that time with prayer.

Fr. Louis Sojka '81 reviews some account numbers. Sojka ends up spending long hours in the office but tries balance that time with prayer.

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Few people would be willing to stare at computer screens and papers full of financial reports and spreadsheets all day, but Fr. Louis Sojka ’81 does this every day for the school, abbey, and development office of Mount Michael.

As the head of the business office, Fr. Louis is “ultimately responsible for the financial business/legal concerns of all three corporations” at Mount Michael. According to Fr. Louis, he does not have a degree in business, but since none of the other monks do either, they chose him as the business manager due to his “penchant for organization.” 

This trait comes in handy when he has to sort through lists and lists of numbers on multiple spreadsheets. Janice Kehn, one of the accountants in the business office, mentioned that “he’s very detail-oriented” and this helps with “having to go through reports and making sure everything matches.”

Organization is not the only quality that helps Fr. Louis to work in the business office; he is also incredibly hardworking. According to Fr. Louis, he spends eight hours or more in the office every day. Along with this work, he also has some additional responsibilities as the other monks grow older and less physically capable.

“As some of the older monks aren’t able to take care of some of the house chores or some of the other things, I start to pick up some of those duties… so I not only have the business office work, but I also have some of those other things that I picked up as well,” he said.  

Fr. Louis mentioned that he is not upset about the extra work, though; he is just concerned that the work around the abbey and the business office might overtake some prayer time. However, he is staying watchful over that balance in his life.

“I especially need to be mindful of Benedictine moderation,” he said. “There are lots and lots of expectations in the business office, and sometimes I can get myself too task-oriented, too caught up in the work… but work and prayer, you’ve got to keep that balance.”

The balance between work and prayer is the central pillar of Benedictine monastic life, and Fr. Louis maintains that balance despite all his work in the business office and around the abbey.

He knows that spirituality is the main focus of his life, and he hopes that students can work toward this as well.

There are plenty of distractions in terms of pressures,” he said. “There’s a lot of media, whether that’s the phone or the radio, there’s a lot of those… It may be helpful being a part of the world, but also a little apart from the world like [Mount Michael] is.”

One thing that helps Fr. Louis when he faces spiritual challenges is a process called discernment. Discernment involves asking God for help in judging the best course of action when difficulties arise.

In fact, discernment helped him through the time when he was deciding whether to join the monastic community. Overall, he is clearly glad about his decision; despite the challenges of this lifestyle, he is a part of something he thinks is absolutely great.     

“Within a monastic community, you are challenged to find your gifts, and the other members of the community help pull those out of you and support you in such that you are able to do things, see things, and be a part of things that you never thought you would ever have the opportunity to do,” Fr. Louis said.

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