Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Refectory, Benedictine Monastery, Thu Duc

For those of you who didn't go to a boarding school and don't spend much time in monasteries, a refectory is a large communal dining hall.

This is the refectory at the Benedicitine monastery in Thu Duc, on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City

I frequent this particular monastery, and when I share the monks’ lunch in the refectory, they go to hunt down a truly massive mahogany chair, intended for the hallowed buttocks of visiting Bishops.
They kindly drag it into the communal eating hall for my benefit, so I don't have to sit on the precarious plastic chairs you can see in this picture.

The monks' meals are simple, but because we eat in silence I always take especial notice of what we are eating. Indeed, if I arrive early enough I am often invited into the kitchen to watch the monks prepare the meals. It is always soup, a simple salad (no dressing) and a plain stir-fry, frequently vegetarian. It is served up with low-grade rice. On some special days bananas are served, but generally fruit is forbidden.


  1. Thank you for the post. What is their prayer schedule?

  2. John,
    Not sure of the full schedule, though they get a big turnout for midday prayer at around 11.30.
    The next one is at 5.30, from memory.
    Closed between 12 and 2.

    1. Sext is at 11.00, None is at 13.30, Vesper is at 17.00, Compline is at 19.30. Lauds at 4.14, Mass at 5.00

  3. Thank you for this posting. I like your story very much!

  4. Hi, whom can I contact to stay for personal retreat?

  5. Hi Sebastian,

    As far as I know it is quite difficult to contact them out of country, and I am not sure of official (i.e. government) regulations around overnight visitors to religious houses in Vietnam.
    Your best bet is to visit and make enquiries when you are in Vietnam - sorry, I know that is probably not helpful.
    I have only ever stayed day-long - I always return home at night.


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