I had the opportunity to visit with Sandy Adams, a member of the oblate community at Holy Wisdom Monastery. In her role as Oblate Formation Circle Facilitator, Sandy interviewed this year’s incoming class of candidates, which is now at 13. She shared some of her experiences of journeying with the candidates during their discernment process.
The Oblates of Holy Wisdom Monastery is an intentional community of women and men who find a practical spirituality in the Rule of Benedict. Oblates embark on a spiritual journey with believers of diverse backgrounds and faith practices. Drawing inspiration from the Rule of Benedict, oblates lead ordinary lives where they live and work, seeking to balance prayer, work and leisure. They meet regularly to share their lives and grow through Benedictine spirituality. Each year Holy Wisdom Monastery welcomes a new class of oblates.
Sandy was able to meet with most of the candidates, but interviewed some by telephone. The interviews spanned all parts of her days, including one after 9:00 pm with a working mother who has two kids. Candidates for the upcoming class include three people from Illinois, one from Minnesota and nine from Wisconsin. These conversations help to ensure that the candidate is a good fit for the oblate community—and vice versa.
The interview is a chance to have a conversation and get to know the candidates. Many candidates already have some familiarity with the monastery, but are looking to participate in a group process of deepening their understanding of the Rule.
Oblates develop a personal rule near the end of their candidacy year. This personal rule comes from a part of the Rule of Benedict that speaks most to the candidate. Sandy recommends having some practices to live by, which can evolve over time, in order to more fully participate in the Rule and life of the monastery.
Candidates have many choices when deciding to become a member of the oblate community at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Most Benedictine monasteries have their own version of an oblate community. Sandy sees Holy Wisdom Monastery set apart from other monasteries because the monastic community itself is ecumenical, and the oblate community is inclusive of gender and sexual orientation.
Of this recent interview experience, Sandy said, “It has been a privilege to listen to the spiritual journeys of each person. Personal story is always very powerful and touching. I gained a deep respect for the way God has been working in each person interviewed.”
This past weekend, the oblates and the new candidates attended a retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery led by Sister Mary Reuter, member of Saint Benedict’s Monastic Community and associate professor at The College of Saint Benedict. Sister Mary is well-known for her work on the Rule of Benedict.
Sandy joined the oblate community at Holy Wisdom Monastery in 2001. She enjoys the opportunity to create community here and cherishes the Benedictine values of balance, hospitality listening and stability. To learn more about our oblate community, visit benedictinewomen.org/oblates-of-holy-wisdom/