Becoming an Oblate
Who can become an Oblate?
Most of the Oblates of Westminster Abbey are Roman Catholic, as we are a Catholic monastery. However, the Rule of St. Benedict is a profoundly Christian document whose appeal is recognized by many Christians. Hence, baptised Christians of other denominations who have some resonance with the monastic way have also become Oblates of the Abbey. Both men and women, and many walks of life, are represented among our Oblates.
From the Benedictine point of view, being a member of another group is not a hindrance to becoming an Oblate, as long as the other group is open to following the spirit of the Rule of St Benedict. Of course professed religious have a commitment to their own Rule which would exclude their becoming Oblates. Also some Third Orders or analogous groups have their own restrictions on joining other groups such as the Oblates of St Benedict.
What is the process?
As Oblates are associated with a particular monastery, there is usually a time of getting to know the monastery. It is best to visit, but if that isn’t possible, one can learn something about the monastery from this website or other sources.
The next step is to make contact with the Oblate Director and perhaps to attend one or the other Oblate meeting. When the candidate and the Oblate Director have discerned that you are ready to make a formal step, arrangements can be made for entering the Oblate Novitiate. This is a period of a year in which the Novice sees whether he or she can fruitfully integrate the Rule into his or her way of life. One enters the novitiate in a short ceremony in which one receives a medal of St Benedict and a copy of the Rule. The ceremony usually takes place at the Abbey, but it may be delegated to a local parish priest.
After a year, the novice may indicate to the Oblate Director that he or she is ready to make oblation, that is, the lifetime commitment. Again there is a short ceremony similar to the one for the novitiate. Although the oblation is for a lifetime, it is a pious practice to renew it annually.
What if I move away from the monastery?
If you move and are closer to another Benedictine monastery, you can transfer your oblation. The Oblate Directors of the original and the new monastery are notified and should agree to this.