Fr David Francis Darling Obl.S.B.

The desire to become an Oblate must originate in a call from God. It is a call to a deeper commitment; rooted in a generous response to the living out of Baptismal vows.

The Oblate Handbook of Edgware Abbey

Who are Benedictine Oblates?

Benedictine Oblates, unlike say, Franciscan Tertiaries, are not an autonomous group but are affiliated to a particular Benedictine Monastery and its Community. Although not living with the community they are part of the community and make an oblation, an offering of themselves to the community to support in by prayer but also in practical ways.

Oblates of Edgware Abbey

Unlike some monasteries, Edgware Abbey, the home of the Community of St Mary at the Cross, only has a small number of Oblates (12) for it was only in 1998 that the Abbess and Chapter acceded to a request from several friends to establish the Oblate Life within the community, but we do feel very much like a small family and very much part of the Community. In our Oblate handbook, we read the folllowing:
The desire to become an Oblate must originate in a call from God. It is a call to a deeper commitment; rooted in a generous response to the living out of Baptismal vows. The Oblate is drawn to a Benedictine Spirituality as lived out in a particular monastery, and feels a growing desire to share in its life and prayer, within the context of life ‘in the world’.

One of the things that drew me to Edgware Abbey is that I am a nurse as well as a priest and the community have always been involved in caring for the sick and now run a nursing home where I was able to be involved in regular chaplaincy work.

Becoming an Oblate

If you are interested in becoming an oblate it is important to have some understanding of Benedictine spirituality and there are numerous books on this but first of all read the Rule of St Benedict in conjunction with a good up to date commentary, in order to imbibe the wisdom teaching of St Benedict and relate it to every day life. Then come and visit the community, perhaps attending one of the Quiet Days, so that you can get to know how this community lives out the rule. 

When the community finds an applicant sincere and knows the person well, they will be invited to meet with the Abbess and\or the Oblate Sister from time to time, to discern together whether there is a genuine call to the Oblate life. There are various stages of commitment, becoming a Novice oblate after about a year, and then after a reasonable time, making a full promise of Oblation. A Novice Oblate is asked to produce a Rule of Life to be agreed with the Abbess, which, may include the daily offering of some part of the Divine Office, a period of private prayer and holy reading, regular attendance at the Eucharist and the sacrament of reconciliation.

Life alongside the Community

Twice a year, Oblates are invited to join with the community for a time of worship, study, reflection and prayer together as well as fellowship and sharing. Where possible this involves spending two nights at the Abbey. However as a few of the oblates live near the abbey we are able to visit more frequently and assist the sisters in their ministry.
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