The sleepy town of Bedford, Virginia is nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains and is home to the Bedford Oblate Deanery. We are centrally located between Roanoke and Lynchburg. Oblates and those seeking to learn more about the Benedictine way of life come together on the second Saturday of each month from September through April. We gather for Morning Prayer, Mid-Day Prayer, book study, faith sharing, and to steep ourselves in the Rule of Benedict. We discern how God is calling us to live the Benedictine motto of Ora et Labora – Prayer and Work, in our faith communities, in our home towns, and our monastery. All Christian faith traditions are welcome. We meet at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church, 1307 Oakwood Street, Bedford, VA. If you are interested in learning more about the Benedictine way of life or becoming an Oblate, please contact our Dean, Rita Zimmermann, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rita C. Zimmermann grew up in the small town of Mason, WV where on a good Sunday there were 60 people in attendance at the mission of St. Joseph. This small parish instilled in her a sense of community and deep faith. Turning fifty, she felt a restlessness and began her search to go deeper in her spiritual life. This search led her to the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia where she made her Oblation in 2007 and has been a member of the Bedford Deanery since its inception in 2005. Retired as a parish Faith Formation Coordinator, she now devotes her time to her husband, five adult children and six grandchildren, along with her Oblate responsibilities as Dean for the Bedford Oblates and chair of the Oblate Advisory Council. She also finds the time to serve as a Spiritual Director, Eucharistic Minister, and Facebook coordinator, and she teaches an occasional session for RCIA at her parish. To maintain a Benedictine balance she hikes and backpacks, praying with her feet.
The Bristow Oblate Deanery meets on the second Saturday of the month (September – May) at the home monastery of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, Saint Benedict Monastery, in Bristow (about 15 minutes from Manassas). Meetings are held in the Subiaco Room from 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM, and all are welcome. The Oblates pray Morning and Midday Prayer with the Sisters in Immaculate Conception Chapel before and after the meetings, and many RSVP to join the Sisters for lunch in the monastery dining room. (Unfortunately, all the in-person meetings and interactions with the Sisters are not possible right now during this time of pandemic. All monthly meetings are online only.) Formation Classes are held for candidates and novices after lunch. Contact Debby Fancher, Bristow Dean, at email@example.com if you have any questions, or to let us know you’d like to join us so we can welcome you to our Benedictine home!
Debby Townsend has been an Oblate for over sixteen years, beginning her volunteer work at the monastery as Sister Eileen’s office assistant, then working with Sister Cecilia and Sister Joanna as a liturgical musician. A native Hoosier, she graduated from Indiana University before moving to Virginia with her husband in 1990. After raising three children, she taught kindergarten for nine years before becoming the music teacher at Linton Hall School. Debby’s hobbies include cooking, gardening, and piano. She lives in Bristow with her mom and her Newfoundland, Emmie.
The Richmond Oblate Deanery is a wonderful community of lay Benedictines who meet monthly to share their insights and lived experience of the Rule of Benedict. The group meets on the third Saturday of the month at Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey in Goochland on the outskirts of Richmond. We begin with Morning Prayer in the Abbey Chapel, followed by a period of faith sharing and prayerful reflection. Members participate in actively serving our Oblate community as God calls forth their gifts and talents. Some Oblates help inquirers and novices learn more about the Benedictine way of life; others prepare our space for a prayerful morning; still others serve as readers of leaders for Morning and Midday Prayers, and some facilitate communitcations. If you live in the Richmond area and are interested in learning more about becoming a Benedictine Oblate, please contact our Dean, Annie McEntee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I grew up smelling the sweet pine needles and playing in the red clay of my native Richmond while experiencing God’s presence for the first time in the sacred space of Saint Bridget Catholic Church. I began my college education in Drama at the University of Richmond and then Catholic University, followed by studies in Theology at Loyola University and Saint Jon’s Seminary & School of Theology. As I became engaged in ministry in the ’90s, God blessed me with the grace of meeting Sister Anita Sherwood, who became my informal mentor and link to the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia. Employed as a training manager at Verizon, and RCIA leader at Saint Michael, I longed for balance in my life – which I discovered in the Benedictine way of life. In 2010 I made promises as an Oblate of Saint Benedict Monastery in Bristow, Virginia. I continue to thrive in the RCIA ministry at Saint Michael as well as offer spiritual direction. I look forward to the blossoming of the Richmond Deanery as we answer God’s calling to grow and develop as Oblates of Saint Benedict.