Oblates of Saint
Saint Benedict lived in Italy in the sixth century. It is said that early in life he abandoned formal education and a possible secular career and chose to seek God alone. As a hermit, Benedict became well known for his holiness of life and the signs he performed. As his reputation grew, he gathered his followers into monastic communities and wrote a “rule of life” for them. These Benedictine communities strove to be “schools of the Lord’s service”, places where charity and communion with God was learned and put into practice. With this vision at heart, the Benedictine vocation spread throughout Europe and monasteries became centers of prayer, culture and education.
For centuries lay men and women have also offered themselves to God (in Latin, “oblatio”, that is, “offering”) as oblates of particular Benedictine monasteries. While remaining “in the world“, they have become witnesses to Christ as they follow their own regimen of prayer and work in the spirit of St. Benedict. Growing in the awareness of God in their daily lives, oblates offer themselves for the service of God and neighbor. And the formal bond of prayer, study and good works between oblates and monastic communities helps both to live holy lives, according to their own vocation.
What are the benefits of being an Oblate of Saint Benedict?
Oblates of Saint Benedict are able to enrich their Christian way of life by following the wisdom and example of Saint Benedict. His spirituality reflects gospel values such as stability and fidelity, humility and conversion, obedience and a reverence for all human persons. As one who sought peace in a world of conflict, community in a place of isolation, and God in a time of empty ambitions, Saint Benedict still has much to say to us.
Through the Oblate program here at Saint Benedict Monastery, we hope to foster the Christian spirit in all our members. Saint Benedict teaches his followers to practice Christian values more profoundly by dedicating themselves in a meaningful way to regular prayer and acts of charity. Regular contact through meetings and newsletters, group liturgical prayer and a variety of talks and discussions on Benedictine spirituality help oblates to find spiritual strength and communion in their association with one another and with our monastic community.
How does one become an Oblate?
Christians of all traditions - not just Catholics - may become Benedictine Oblates. An oblate must simply desire to learn about and follow the Benedictine way. He or she does do not make public religious vows as monks do, but the oblate’s association with the monastery is recognized by the Church. Those wishing to join are formally enrolled as “oblate novices” for a period of one year. During this time of formation they are introduced to the Rule of Saint Benedict and the important elements of his spirituality so that they can understand how Benedictine values are experienced and expressed in their daily life.
Upon mutual agreement with the Director of Oblates, an oblate may make his or her “oblation” which takes place in a ceremony which borrows elements from the monastic profession of vows. This is a commitment to live in the spirit of Saint Benedict, his Rule and the directives of the oblate program. One may remain an Oblate of Saint Benedict Monastery for life. The oblation is renewed each year and there are no formal dues for membership. Once oblates have been formally accepted they keep the spirit of Saint Benedict in their lives by maintaining a connection with the monastery and fellow oblates, and by regular prayer, study and acts of charity in accord with the promises of their oblation and their state in life.
For further information:
If you reside in or near Southeast Michigan, we welcome your inquiries about our group. Please contact the Director of Oblates:
Fr. John Martin Shimkus, O.S.B.
St. Benedict Monastery
2711 Drahner Rd.
Oxford, MI 48370-2815