CONYERS, Georgia — The Monastery of the Holy Spirit outside Atlanta shut down public prayers and services and its gift shop, museum and food pantry when health officials urged people to shelter in place early on during the pandemic.

The monks who live there told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the 2020 shutdown to protect against the coronavirus brought them closer to the roots of a monastic life.

“It’s a life of prayer and separation from the world,” Brother Callistus Crichlow told the newspaper in a story published on Friday. “I use separation in a positive sense of being alone with God.”

Abbot Augustine Myslinski said the monks don’t go out much in general and instead devote their lives to God.

“We just experienced a little bit more the silence and solitude of the monastic life during this journey, and a lot of the brothers have really welcomed that,” he said.

The Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers — established in 1944 — has 28 members. They are part of a Catholic order known as the Cistercians of the Strict Observance, or Trappists.

They earn income from sales in the gift store and baked goods. They also receive donations.

Although all the monks got the vaccine, they have been cautious about leaving the monastery.

Brother Michael Lautieri, who joined the order in 1996, said he has learned more about the interests and families of the other monks. He hopes the pandemic will allow people to become more comfortable with solitude.

“There’s always noise and distractions,” he said. “For some people, silence and solitude can be kind of scary.”