Margarita Mooney on Her Monastic Vacation
Date: February 11th, 2013

Would you ever consider taking a vacation in an actual, working Catholic monastery?  Prof. Margarita Mooney, and assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, did just that … and not just once!  Margarita, who has appeared on our show several times before, discusses her recent stay with the Servants of the Lord  and the Virgin of Matará in Toscana, Italy.  We learn that this was not her first experience living among those who have chosen a religious life.  But before diving into the details of her trip, we discuss what it means to live a monastic life within the Catholic faith, and what trends are affecting those who take this life as a spiritual calling.  Prof. Mooney clarifies the differences between monasteries, convents, and religious orders for Tony, who long ago forgot all the things he learned in his own Catholic upbringing.  We then examine the extent of, and reasons for, the declining number of Catholics choosing a religious vocation.  Tony asks Margarita about what type of person does take up this life and we both agree that there needs to be deeper research into this question as it has been a relatively understudied topic.  The heart of our interview is devoted to Margarita’s various trips to religious monasteries, particularly those affiliated with the Servants of the Lord.  She provides a fascinating personal history about how she came to such experiences, including being asked at one point whether or not she would consider becoming a nun.  While choosing the path of a social scientist instead of the cloister, Margarita has still remained fascinated by this deeply religious way of life and explains how she became connected with the Servants of the Lord, as well as the monks of the  Belmont Abbey.  We are given a brief history of the Servants of the Lord, a relatively new order that traces its roots to Argentina.  And then it is off to Italy to discuss what she did and what she observed during her four day stay with the nuns. Prof. Mooney gives us a glimpse of the daily activities of the nuns, how she interacted with them, and what she learned in the process.  We conclude with Margarita noting how “monastic vacations” can be undertaken by anyone, whether one be Catholic or not, and how they can provide a sense of spiritual renewal.  Recorded: February 4, 2013.



 Prof. Margarita Mooney’s webpage.

My Monastic Vacation,” by Margarita Mooney on The Black, White, & Gray Blog at

Video on the 25th Anniversary of the Institute of the Incarnate Word (mentioned in the interview).

Faith Makes Us Live: Surviving and Thriving in the Haitian Diaspora, by Margarita Mooney.

Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará official website.

The Monastery at Belmont Abbey in North Carolina (includes information on visiting).


Margarita Mooney on Pope Benedict XVI and Cuba.

Margarita Mooney on Religion & Haitian Immigrants

One Response to “Margarita Mooney on Her Monastic Vacation”

  1. […] and host of the Research on Religion podcast series, Tony Gill, interviewed me about that vacation. Please visit their page to hear the podcast and learn more about the numbers of religious vocations ….In addition to the podcast, I suggest you watch this video interview with Father Miguel Buela, the […]

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