What is an Oblate?
Oblates of Saint Benedict are Christian men and women who choose to associate themselves with a Benedictine religious community in order to strengthen their baptismal commitment and enrich their Christian way of life.
About the Oblate Program at Saint Vincent Archabbey
The Oblate Program at Saint Vincent Archabbey includes more than 900 people, including 300 Oblate novices as well as full Oblates.
Most are located in Pennsylvania, but others are from many states in the United States, Canada, and other countries such Wales and Malaysia.
Groups of Oblates called “deaneries” meet regularly in some 20 locations, including Latrobe, Pittsburgh (two groups), St. Marys, State College, Johnstown, Williamsport, Butler, Selinsgrove and Philadelphia in Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Savannah, Georgia; Kalispell, Montana; St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada; and in prisons in Somerset and Waynesburg, Pennsylvania; Pendleton, Indiana; Rosharon and Tennessee Colony, Texas.
There are also some 40 people who discuss Benedictine spirituality over the internet who constitute a “Cyber Deanery.”
Other groups meet in Morgantown, West Virginia; in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada; and in several other prisons in Texas that are not official deaneries.
Some resources to which members of our Oblate Program have access are a quarterly newsletter, a library of books for borrowing, an Oblate Formation Booklet, a series of twelve lessons constituting a book called Formation Lessons for Oblate Novices and Oblates (assembled in 2017), and a mentoring program to help inquirers and Oblate novices.
The Oblate Program also has a website and a Directory for those Oblates and Oblate novices who wish to be included so that they can communicate with one another and (for those with e-mail) receive regular updated information from the Archabbey, such as changes of schedule in the monastic Liturgy of the Hours.
A Board of Advisors meets five times a year and which advises the director of Oblates on matter involving the various projects undertaken by the Oblate Program.
The Oblate program sponsors four events for Oblates each year, which involve Mass and/or prayer with the monastic community, meals, and one or more presentations. These take place on March 21, July 11, a Sunday in September (“Oblate Day”), and a Saturday in October (a day of recollection).
Additionally, the Saint Vincent Summer Retreat Program sponsors two retreats on Benedictine spirituality every summer, usually in May and June. Most of those attending tend to be Oblates or Oblate novices.
Since 2009, there has also been a weekly prayer chain, usually on Tuesdays, through which prayer intentions may be announced to all who participate, either by e-mail or by phone calls.
A number of Oblates serve as volunteers in doing office work or coordinating various projects, such as the Directory, the mentoring program, an online version of the twelve lessons, and a postal version of the lessons. Without these faithful volunteers, the Director of Oblates would not be able to sustain many of the projects that are undertaken by the Oblate Program.
The officiant at the ceremonies may be the Archabbot, the Director of Oblates, the moderator of a local deanery, or another delegated monk of the Archabbey. The officiant may also be a professed Benedictine monk of another monastery, a Catholic diocesan priest, or a Catholic permanent deacon provided that the person has received official permission through correspondence with the Director of Oblates.
Each year an Oblate Retreat is held at Saint Vincent Archabbey. This three-day retreat usually coincides with the opportunity for retreatants to attend a priesthood and/or diaconate ordination Mass at Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica.
Oblates and Saint Benedict
Information about the life of Saint Benedict comes from Book II of the Dialogues by Pope Saint Gregory the Great (590-604). Benedict was born about the year 480 A.D. in Nursia, a small town north of Rome, Italy.