Abbey Rules and Guidelines

The Abbey’s grounds are open to those who wish to visit from 4:00 AM to 10:00 PM each day.

St. Mary & St. Moses Abbey is a Holy Monastery of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a place of repentance and redemption for those men leading a monastic life and for the pious visitors. Yet St. Mary & St. Moses Abbey welcomes all visitors, but through advance arrangements for those who would like to stay overnight. If you wish to enter the holy grounds, the following guidelines must be observed.

  1. We kindly ask all visitors to be modestly dressed since St. Mary & St. Moses Abbey is a sacred place. (No shorts, mini-skirts, sleeveless blouses, tight or transparent clothes, etc.)
  2. If a monk is not immediately available at the lobby when you arrive, we kindly ask that you wait until one of the monks returns.
  3. Smoking is strictly forbidden everywhere on the Abbey’s grounds.
  4. Children must be supervised at all times and not roaming freely on the grounds.
  5. No internet WiFi network is available on the Abbey’s grounds.
  6. Overnight Visitors:
    1. Must complete the online visitation form to receive the blessing to stay overnight at the Abbey;
    2. Must obtain a permission letter prior to completing the online visitation form;
    3. Must bring their own bed sheet and pillowcase to use during their stay at the Abbey;
    4. Are expected to attend all scheduled church services for the visitors;
    5. Staying over fourteen (14) days, are required to obtain a written permission from the Bishop prior to arrival;
    6. Female retreatants are allowed to stay for an overnight retreat at the Abbey only when accompanied for the whole duration of their stay by: 1) a Priest, 2) father 3) husband, or 4) brother or son, only if they are 18 years of age or older. This must be indicated in the ‘Comments’ section of the ‘Family Registration’ form.
  7. We kindly ask that you respect the quiet and solitude of the Abbey while on the grounds all the time.
  8. Loud talking and laughing are always inappropriate.
  9. We ask that you do not use the telephones during the services hours.
  10. Please do not visit non-public areas of the grounds.
  11. All visitors must observe the order of the Abbey.
  12. Groups of ten (10) or more are asked to make arrangements at minimum three (3) weeks in advance of arrival.
  13. Non-Orthodox visitors are also welcome to attend the services, but must abide to the rules of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
  14. During the Divine Liturgy:
    1. Men should stand on the left side of the church and women on the right side of the church.
    2. All women are required to cover their heads with a veil upon entering the chapel.
    3. All cell phones and/or pagers must be turned off.
    4. We kindly asked to please avoid any unnecessary movement.
  15. Meals are eaten together in the assigned place and times.
  16. The work, rest periods and services are conducted according to the Retreat Center’s schedule.
  17. We ask all Coptic Orthodox Christians, before partaking in the Holy Communion, to:
    1. prepare with confession;
    2. obtain absolution from your Confessor Father; and
    3. abstain from food from midnight or for nine hours if the time from midnight till communion is shorter than nine hours.
  18. Only the Oriental Orthodox Christians, who are in full communion with the Coptic Orthodox Church, are allowed to partake of the Holy Communion.
  19. Married couples, partaking of the Holy Communion, must be married in the Orthodox Church.
  20. Photographs (including videos):
    1. may be taken of the buildings, the grounds and inside the Church;
    2. should not be taken of the monks or guests without their permission; and
    3. are not allowed during the services unless it has the blessing from the abbot or the monk in charge.
Thank you for your understanding.

Groups of ten (10) or more are asked to make arrangements at minimum three (3) weeks in advance.

Retreat Center Information, Rules and Guidelines
In addition to the Retreat Center’s guidelines listed below, please refer to the general rules and guidelines above of St. Mary & St. Moses Abbey that are expected of every visitor.

Safety Rules
Individuals and church groups, spending an overnight retreat at the Abbey, must make safety their first and highest priority. Retreatants are responsible for their own insurance, and, by signing the reservation agreement, waive all rights of action against St. Mary & St. Moses Abbey. A certificate of insurance is required to be presented to the Abbey once the church group arrives. The Abbey is located right on the Corpus Christi Lake. All retreatants must exercise caution. No exceptions.

Room Accommodations
All retreatants must bring their own bed sheet and pillow case to use during their stay at the Retreat Center. Retreatants are also responsible for leaving the Retreat Center facilities in the same condition (or better!) in which they were found. This includes the grounds, the rooms, including thoroughly cleaning the bathroom area and removing all trash. All materials that can be recycled, including cans, glass, plastic bottles and newsprint, must be cleaned and disposed of.

Quiet Hours
The Retreat Center observes quiet hours from 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. During this time, no one is to be outside of assigned areas without an adult. Please respect the experience of others on the property.

Pets are not allowed on the Abbey’s premises.

Smoking, Drugs and Alcohol
The Abbey and its Retreat Center are smoke-free, drug-free and alcohol-free facilities. Use of cigarettes, drugs and alcohol is strictly forbidden.

In addition, anyone with any addiction (drugs, alcohol, etc.) should consider the Triumphant Rehab center in Florida as the Abbey cannot accomodate anyone with addiction and who has not completely been sober for at least six months.

All church groups must have a minimum of two adult chaperones (or servants), one of which is the Retreat Coordinator, who communicates with the monastery for the registration process. Same sex chaperones are required for the attending retreatants; and one (1) adult for every five (5) youth under age 18. Chaperones are required to stay in each building used. Chaperones are expected to maintain discipline of their group to ensure a safe retreat experience for everyone using the Retreat Center.

Retreat Termination will occur and a fine will incur if your group:

  • damages, defaces or removes any Retreat Center property;
  • fails to comply with the rules and guidelines of the Retreat Center;
  • disturbs other people and/or unoccupied buildings during your stay; and
  • brings cigarettes, alcohol or drugs on property.


Permission Letter
A permission letter is required for individual and church retreats in order to take the blessing of staying overnight at the Abbey. Once you submit your registration, a permission letter will be sent automatically to your father of confession via email. Please note that the registration will not be complete except if the individual’s Confessor Father or the Church Priest sponsoring the overnight retreat at the Abbey has approved your retreat. Please refer to the appropriate registration page to view the requirements.

Female Retreatants
Female retreatants are allowed to stay for an overnight retreat at the Abbey only when accompanied for the whole duration of their stay by

1) a Priest,

2) father,

3) husband,

4) brother – only if he is 18 years of age or older,

5) son – only if he is 18 years of age or older.

6) son in law.

In order for your registration to be approved and not denied, you have to provide the name of the priest that will accompany your group. The priest must also submit a letter to the Abbey by fax or e-mail in the same day of registration confirming his attendance. If coming as a family, you must clearly indicate in the ‘Comments’ section that you are being accompanied by one of the above mentioned family members.

Please note: Any female retreatant coming alone and staying at a local hotel, for the sole purpose of visiting the Abbey, is only permitted to visit the Abbey once for a day visit. Day visitors should leave immediately after Vespers prayers. Thank you for your understanding.

Non-Orthodox Visitors
Non-Orthodox visitors are welcome to visit and take the blessing of St. Mary & St. Moses Abbey. Non-Orthodox denominations must believe in the statement of faith of the Coptic Orthodox Church. Such visitors will need to fill out the online suitable registration form—individual, family or church retreat—in order to request overnight stay at the Abbey.

If you are interested in holding a convention at the Abbey, such as a Youth Convention, Kids Camp, Hymns Camp, Servants’ Retreat, etc., please contact the Abbey.