The Commitment: An annual promise
During their period of formation, oblate candidates and initiates are asked to discern two important questions:
- Am I called to be an oblate?
- Am I called to be an oblate with this community?
The answers to these questions are not necessarily the same. The Rule of Benedict guides the life of Benedictine, Cistercian, and Trappist communities in both Catholic and Protestant traditions. Despite this common perspective, one finds great diversity among Benedictine communities throughout the world. Each community is different and it takes time to discern if a particular community resonates with one’s heart. Oblates know the community history and the corporate commitment of the community and make an annual promise to live the values of the community in very concrete ways. Oblates visit frequently and engage in the work of the community as their lives permit. Those living at a distance discover ways to bring the spirit of the Erie Benedictines to their home communities.
Each year, at a ceremony of Evening Praise, the community welcomes new oblates and Initiates as they promise to live the Benedictine Charism and Corporate Commitment of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. Along with renewing oblates, they choose to associate themselves with this particular Benedictine community and join the sisters annually in promising to “seek God in community and respond in prayer and ministry” (Benedictine charism) and to take concrete steps “to be a healing presence and prophetic witness for peace and justice by actively addressing the climate crisis and the rights of women and children.” (Corporate Commitment)
The Journey: Oblates as a Monastic Presence for the 21st Century
Oblates are an essential part of the extended community of Mount St. Benedict Monastery. They number 266, are geographically dispersed, and are represented in many places in society such as government, education, business and finance, healthcare, social service, arts and culture, as well as the nuclear family unit - places, in other words, where the sisters might not ordinarily reach. It is in these places where oblates pray the Liturgy of the Hours, practice lectio divina, and read from the Rule of Benedict each day, knowing they do so in spirit with the whole community. Moreover, it is to these places that oblates are uniquely positioned to bring the spirit of the Benedictine tradition and the Corporate Commitment of the community well beyond the monastery on the shores of Lake Erie as they respond to the needs in their families and local communities. The oblate’s journey is not a static one. It calls for ongoing discernment of how to best bring the spirit of the Rule to an ever-changing world and their ever-changing lives and communities. They live this commitment in mutuality with their Benedictine sisters.
If you wish to learn more about becoming an oblate, contact:
Joanne Cahill OSB Obl and Annette Marshall, OSB
T: 814-899-0614 ext 2402
E-mail: [email protected]