When we began nearly 24 years ago, December 12, 1998, at the request of Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien, we have grown into more than we ever imagined when God first called us to establish this Monastery. With only two of us in vows and one associate we knew that we would need to establish an Oblate membership in our community.
For us here at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery we knew we would need Oblates to be an integral part of this community. When we began, we decided to put our horarium in place first. Which means our prayer life and the schedule of the day. Once we established our horarium we then moved forward with establishing the Oblate Formation, which began in 2008.
Our Oblates became coordinators of Lupe’s Thrift Store, Benedict’s Garden, Cooking Teams for our Retreats, Housekeeping of the Monastery, Serving & Cleanup for retreats, Maintenance and Landscaping for our 7.3 acres, Faith Community members of our Sunday liturgies, ushers, Eucharistic Ministers, Ministers to the Sick, Gift Shop, and Fundraising. This is a whole new entity in monastic communities to have Oblates take leadership in all these areas.
The lack of new vocations throughout all religious orders of women and men has led the Holy Spirit to lead communities into a new world….and for Benedictine Communities that is the Oblate membership. Which also reminds us that the call of Vatican II is for the laity to step up into many of the role’s religious filled for many years.
We can all look at this as a negative or a positive. I have heard people say: When you and Sister Lydia are not here what will happen to the Monastery? We did not establish the Monastery for us…. we established it because God called us to respond to a need in this Diocese in this place where people are welcomed: hospitality, the Benedictine charisms, and to assist in the formation of Benedictine spirituality for all who are called to it…. regardless of faith or culture….and to receive each one as Christ.
The need for a retreat space, solitude on holy ground, smaller faith community, a welcoming place for folks who were disenfranchised from their faith, a need for formation in spiritual growth that people are experiencing…these were and continue to be our call and how those elements continue to be served have changed in some ways the core of those elements are still in the vision God has for this monastery at this time in history.
I believe that hope lies in our willingness to change, to see things in the light of Christ…. our Church is guided by the Pope, who is guided by the Holy Spirit. We are a Vatican II Church. Benedictines are guided by the Holy Spirit, Vatican II, and the charisms and Rule of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica. My role is to continue to form our community considering all those guides.
I believe that as Benedictines we have a whole lot of light to shine on one another, on ourselves, on our society…..will this world be a better place because Benedictines Oblates and religious have been here or not. It is in the hands of each one of us.
In the book of Jeremiah, God says: I know well the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Seek Hope: listen to the Scriptures…be positive.