Oblates of Saint Benedict’s Monastery are Christian individuals who associate with a Benedictine community in order to enrich their Christian way of life. Their lives are shaped by living the wisdom of Christ as interpreted by Saint Benedict. A Benedictine oblate seeks God in their chosen way of life. They offer themselves (the word ‘oblate’ means offering) to God in the service of others. Through their prayer, service and community, they witness to Christ’s presence in today’s world.
A Benedictine oblate seeks God in association with a monastic community. As individuals and as members of a community, they grow in love of God and neighbor. With the Rule of Benedict as their guide, oblates engage in practices that are part of the very fabric of Christian spirituality. Some of these include spending time daily to reflect and pray with the sacred scriptures, as well as offering hospitality where they live and work.
Acquaintance with these and other Christian practices presented in the Rule of Benedict enable oblates to experience the peace and joy that Christ promised to all who follow Him. Oblates regularly receive the Oblate News to support them in their spiritual life. There are also opportunities to share and form community including Oblate Sundays, Oblate Renewal Day and small-group gatherings.
For more information on becoming a Benedictine oblate, contact:
Michaela Hedican, OSB
What Is An Oblate?
Oblates are women or men who associate themselves with Saint Benedict’s Monastery. They desire to deepen their relationship with God in the places where they live day-to-day. Benedictine oblates are people seeking to serve God in their chosen way of life. Christians of all faith denominations may become oblates and may be married or single.
One of the gifts of being an oblate is the opportunity to extend a Benedictine presence from Saint Benedict’s Monastery to parishes, churches and civic organizations. As an oblate, a person can, through their manner of life and daily prayer, bear witness to the teachings of Jesus as seen through the lens of Saint Benedict. Ongoing formation is also important, and oblates stay in touch through small-group meetings, the Oblate News, Oblate Sundays and Oblate Renewal Days.
Why Become An Oblate?
By becoming an Oblate of Saint Benedict’s Monastery, the opportunities to deepen your spirituality increase by:
- having a spiritual home at Saint Benedict’s Monastery;
- receiving support and encouragement from other oblates and the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict;
- gathering with others to enrich and revive your spiritual life, including an annual Oblate Renewal Day and Oblate Sundays;
- visiting the monastic community at Saint Benedict’s Monastery for prayer and events; and,
- seeking God in the way of life offered by Saint Benedict through prayer, offering hospitality to others and nurturing relationships.
Process Of Formation
Benedictine oblates are supported in their commitment to the oblate way of life by the prayers of the community, by their association with the monastery and by taking advantage of ongoing formation programs offered at Saint Benedict’s Monastery.
There are three stages for the seeker:
- Contact the Benedictine oblate director at email@example.com to become familiar with the monastic community and to learn what it means to live the ‘oblate way of life.’
- Be received as a candidate for a minimum of one year.*
- Make a final commitment as an oblate by reading the Document of Oblation which is signed on the altar by the candidate and the prioress of the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict. This is done on the annual Oblate Renewal Day.
*Other Information About the Candidate Process
A candidate is received in a Rite of Reception. At this time, the candidate is presented with a copy of the Rule of Benedict and a Benedictine medal.
The next year is spent in study, under the direction of the oblate director. During this time, the Rule of Benedict is reviewed, the life of Saint Benedict is explored and practices integral to Benedictine spirituality are learned.
A candidate may be mentored by another oblate or a sister of the monastery. The candidacy can extend up to five years, if necessary.
When a candidate has discerned her/his readiness to make a final commitment, the candidate writes a letter to the prioress of Saint Benedict’s Monastery asking to make her/his final commitment as an Oblate of Saint Benedict’s Monastery.
After George Floyd’s murder in May, my nieces and I formed a book/support group to become anti-racist. We decide on a book (the last one was White Fragility by Robin Di Angelo), talk about it and how it can support us in our work to reshape our attitudes and actions. We also support each other in doing scary things like responding to a posting on social media with a different view than the author. I’ve also read a book and met with another oblate by Zoom to talk about our journey to becoming an accomplice in anti-racism.
Lynda Gradert, OblSB
Self-isolation has its benefits and it has its loneliness and lack of personal contact with the outside world. Personally, I found myself in a deep, isolated hole after returning from our winter rental in March listening to the daily news. Focused on the impact of the pandemic, I began to feel hopeless and sad because I was removed from the very people I loved the most, my children and grandchildren.
Long ago, I learned if you are in a deep hole, the first rule is to stop digging it deeper. The second thing I learned was to climb out of the hole using as much positive energy as I could muster. As the saying goes, “Pull myself up by my bootstraps.” And so my work began with a group called Western Wisconsin Votes.
Specifically, Western Wisconsin Votes is building a local team that will work together to increase voter turnout by having one-on-one conversations with voters at high risk of not voting this year. The approach, called deep canvassing, has proven results. The outreach includes helping voters register and vote by mail. It is building a supportive community to tell our stories and share them with others as a way of building trust.
Part of the deep canvassing training is to help people learn how to tell their personal stories to the person they contact and build trust to help this infrequent voter understand voting is something we do for the people we love. I am one of the trainers for the storytelling, and I assist in coaching others on how to build their story so it captures their feelings and emotions about how important voting is to them.
My story is one about my grandchildren and how much I miss them during this pandemic. I talk about my four-year-old granddaughter and how I FaceTime her to keep her busy while her daddy is working from home and her mommy is working as a nurse in the hospital. Keeping a toddler busy for an hour on FaceTime has been a challenge, I can assure you this, especially this tenacious, red-headed fire cracker. Yet, we have managed to have “meetings,” as she calls them, and play all sorts of games and read stories. During these times together, she will often tear up and grab her blankie. She tells me she is sad and misses me. She wants to visit and sit on my lap for real, not pretend. “I want a thousand kisses from you, Nana!” she tells me. This is so hard when she becomes sad. I worry about the future of my grandchildren. Is this the new normal for them? For us? What do we want the future to be for those we love?
My work with Western Wisconsin Votes has been challenging, yet has brought me out of that deep hole, into the light. It gives me purpose and meaning to help build a community of voters who are caring and committed to a higher calling and want to make the country a better place for those we love. I have learned to stop thinking about the pandemic numbers and focus on hope. More importantly, I practice my Benedictine values and core teachings by reaching out to others through friendship and community.
Mary Baier, OblSB
SAVE THE DATES: THE COLORS OF ADVENT
Wednesday, December 2, 9, 16
In this interactive Zoom retreat for oblates, we will forcus on how light (color) moves from darkness to light through three Advent characters: Isaiah, John the Baptizer and Mary. Beyond that, how meaningful is their example in our 2020 lives, especially as oblates?
Oblates have the opportunity to form community and deepen their spiritual life through Oblate Sundays and Oblate Renewal Days. These events are for oblates only, and oblates can view previous presentations by clicking the button below. The next Oblate Renewal Afternoon will take place virtually on Saturday, September 19.
- If you would like to access a recording of the Oblate Sunday presentations on September 21, 2019, November 17, 2019, or January 19, 2020, please contact Sister Michaela Hedican.
- Access a recording of Oblate Sunday on May 17, 2020. If you do not have the password to view this recording, please contact Sister Michaela Hedican.