St. Mary’s Abbey had traditionally sent its young candidates to St. Vincent Archabbey for the year of novitiate, except for one fatal year. Using the opportunity afforded by the green fields of Delbarton, in 1938 Father Claude Micik, with Frater Martin Burne as socius, was appointed the first novice master in the history of St. Mary’s Abbey. Four novices happily began their novitiate year but none survived to make vows. After that experience novices again returned to St. Vincent until, in 1941, they began traveling to St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kansas and continued there until the new monastic buildings were completed in Morristown. In 1965 Father Martin Burne was appointed novice master in Morristown and has been succeeded by, Brian Clarke, James O’Donnell, Giles Hayes, Paul Diveny, and Hilary O’Leary.
College studies, both before and after the year of novitiate, were pursued at St. Vincent, St. Benedict’s or St. John’s Colleges. Theological studies followed at the abbey’s own School of Theology in Morristown where St. Mary’s Abbey clerics were joined by “day hops” from St. Paul’s Abbey in Newton, New Jersey.
True to the tradition of their American Benedictine roots, as the number of ordained in Morristown increased, so did the pastoral outreach in the Paterson Diocese and neighboring Trenton and more recently Metuchen Dioceses. Monks have likewise served as chaplains to a number of provincial houses of religious women in the area. The Sisters of Charity in Convent Station, the Sisters of Christian Charity in Mendham and the Religious Teachers Filippini at neighboring Villa Walsh as well as, for many years, at the Carmelite Monastery in Morris Township have all benefitted from the ministry of monks of St. Mary’s.