[us_testimonial style=”3″ author=”Lisa, OblSB” company=”Richmond Deanery” img=”1975″]I became an Oblate because I realized that was the kind of person I wanted to be, and I wanted the support of the Benedictine Sisters Community to continue to grow closer to God. [/us_testimonial]
[us_testimonial style=”3″ author=”Christine, OblSB” company=”Bedford Deanery” img=”2005″]By praying the Morning and Evening Liturgy of the Hours every day, I truly feel the Lord’s presence in my life. His presence influences me in all my thoughts and deeds. Being an Oblate and able to participate in our meetings makes me want to be a better person. It has strengthened my faith in so many ways. [/us_testimonial]

How, then, shall we live?

Christians have been asking this question for millennia. Benedictine Oblates are laypersons who, after prayerful consideration, have chosen to live their faith with guidance from the Rule of Saint Benedict as they are able, given their life circumstances. They affiliate with a Benedictine monastery and join in an active partnership with the vowed monastics of that monastery. People from all Christian traditions are welcome.

Oblates are everyday people with jobs, families, and other responsibilities. They come from a variety of faith traditions. In today’s hectic, changing world, being an oblate offers a rich spiritual connection to the stability and wisdom of an established monastic community. By their commitment to the Rule of Benedict, oblates benefit from an ancient spiritual tradition that has led countless other monastics and oblates to holiness. Just as a candidate for the monastery is tested to see whether s/he “truly seeks God” (RB 58), so also those who become oblates are committed above all else to seek God.

The Rule of Saint Benedict, the Liturgy of the Hours, Lectio Divina — these are some of the components of Benedictine Spirituality that nurture and support the oblate’s daily seeking of God. While daily prayer, reflection, and the study of Scripture and the Rule are central to the life of a Benedictine Oblate, Oblates are not required to follow a specific set of devotional exercises. They do, however, promise to pursue a life of holiness and the practice of Christian service.

The first step in exploring life as an Oblate of Saint Benedict is to meet us and experience firsthand our community and the Benedictine approach to Christian growth. Hospitality is a core characteristic, or “charism,” of Benedictines, so you can expect a warm welcome.

Generally speaking, a newcomer meets with the nearest group for a year as an Inquirer, during which they are encouraged to learn about Benedictine life and to participate fully in worship, study, and community. If after some time they choose to deepen their commitment, they may request acceptance as a Novice.

Novices spend at least a year delving more deeply into Saint Benedict’s application of Christ’s teachings and his precepts for Christian living. Each Novice is paired with a spiritual companion. After a time of preparation, Novices may finalize their commitment by making a formal Act of Oblation. They are then welcomed as Benedictine Oblates joined in faith and works with the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia.

Oblates associated with the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia participate as they are able in one of three Virginia-based groups, called Deaneries. These are associations of Oblates, Novices, and Inquirers that meet monthly from September to May to worship, explore Benedictine topics, and enjoy community. The groups are located in Bristow, Richmond, and Bedford.

Saint Benedict saw the value of those who contributed to the monastery’s livelihood, and he devoted Chapter 57 of his Rule to the comportment of the artisans. Benedictine monasteries in the middle ages were largely responsible for the copying and illustration of books and manuscripts; lettering, illustration, and book-binding were highly prized skills. Hence, Benedict warns: If there are artisans in the monastery, they are to practice their craft with all humility…

Among our oblate community, we are happy to have some artisans whose creative work helps all of us to deepen our Benedictine lives. Oblate artisans are writers and poets, photographers, musicians, sculptors and painters and experts in all manner of crafts. For some, it is a livelihood. For some, a cherished hobby. For all, the joy of sharing their God-given skills is rooted in the Benedictine values of humility and stewardship.


September 9, 2021 was a joyous day at the monastery!  In the presence of the sisters, oblates, friends and family, Joyce Andrew (Bristow), David Corey (Bristow), and Patricia Mason-Goggin (Bedford) were received as Oblate Novices for the deaneries of Bristow and Bedford. Diane Butler (Bristow) and Sherri Given (Bedford) made their oblation and received their Benedictine pins marking them as Oblates of Saint Benedict. Their handwritten and signed documents of oblation were countersigned and sealed by Sister Joanna Burley, OSB, prioress, and will be kept secure in the monastery. Debby Townsend was commissioned as Dean of the Bristow Deanery by directors Kathy Frick and Sister Andrea Westkamp, OSB.
The day opened with solemn statio by the Benedictine Sisters and Oblates, followed by the traditional Hymn to Saint Benedict and the antiphonal recitation of Psalm 34, a psalm of thanksgiving. Debby Townsend and Rita Zimmermann read from the Rule of Benedict (4.20-28) and the Gospel of Saint Matthew (5:14-16), and Diane Butler gave beautiful reflection. Joyce, David and Patricia were each called forth and asked the ancient question: What do you seek? With their verbal commitment, and the united support of the Sisters and Oblates, all three were received as Novices and presented with a copy of the Rule. Next, Diane and Sherri were called forth, and asked the same question. Each then publicly pronounced their oblation promise, signed the document, and received the Oblate Benedictine Medal pin as a sign of their commitment. All present prayed for Diane and Sherri: May God strengthen you in your faith.  May you persevere in your sacred resolutions as your everyday life permits. And may God reward you with life everlasting. Amen.
Recognition and thanksgiving were given for Oblates who reached milestone anniversaries in 2020 and 2021, and Debby Townsend was commissioned as Dean of the Bristow Deanery. All prayed:
Debby, may you be empowered by the Holy Spirit in your ministry as Dean. May the Wisdom of Benedict and Scholastica be with you as you lead, instruct, listen and encourage all who come to this place seeking God through the Oblate way of life.  Always listen with the ear of your heart and remember what the Rule says: “First of all, every time you begin a good work you must pray to God most earnestly to bring it to perfection.” May God bless, support and comfort you. May your ministry as dean hold many blessings for you and the Bristow deanery. Amen.

Epiphany 2022 — photos by Linda Kusse-Wolfe

September 9, 2021 — Oblate Ceremony

We would love to share more with you!


Katherine Frick, OblSB   KatherineFrick@hotmail.com

Sister Andrea Westkamp, OSB  awestkamp@osbva.org


Debby Townsend, OblSB – Bristow – debbyoblsb@gmail.com

Annie McEntee, OblSB – Richmond – annie.mcentee.oblsb@gmail.com

Rita Zimmermann, OblSB – Bedford – rzimmermann.obl.sb@gmail.com