History of Oblates of
Our Lady of Grace Monastery
In 1988, a committee called the Associate Committee was appointed by the prioress, Sister Mary Margaret Funk, to study and review alternative types of affiliation with the Community outside vowed membership. The group, led by Sister Marian Yohe, did considerable research on Oblate groups in other Benedictine communities and on similar means of affiliation in other religious orders. Under her leadership, the committee was responsible for formulating a recommendation to the monastic chapter about the initiation of Oblates of Our Lady of Grace Monastery. At their Chapter Meeting in July 1990, the Sisters passed the proposal “to initiate an Oblate Program for men and women seeking to unite their lives of prayer and work in the spirit of St. Benedict with the members of this monastic community”. Sister Mary Margaret Funk, Prioress, appointed Sister Juliann Babcock the first Director of Oblates.
Recruitment for Oblates was primarily by “word-of-mouth” but an advertisement inviting interested parties to “come and see” was placed in The Criterion, the weekly, Catholic diocesan newspaper. Sister Juliann gathered those who had expressed an interest in becoming an Oblate of this monastery for an organizational meeting that was held on July 10, 1990. Thirty-four men and women attended this session.
The first bi-monthly oblate meeting was held on Sunday, September 23, 1990. Those interested in pursuing oblation were invited to the Monastery for Mass at 11:00 a.m., followed by dinner and the meeting. Sister Mildred Wannemuehler gave a presentation on “Who Was Benedict and What Are Benedictines?”
Lectio Divina (divine reading), using the Rule of St. Benedict, became the method of prayer and sharing for the bi-monthly gatherings. Presentations, study, and discussion on how the Rule could be lived in today’s world formed the framework for the meetings. Some informal social time was incorporated into the meetings that concluded with the celebration of Evening Praise with the Sisters.
Following a year of preparation, eight women and four men made oblation and became the first Oblates of Our Lady of Grace Monastery on September 15, 1991. Since then, a total of 138 women and men have offered themselves as oblates of this monastery.