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Oblate Blog: August 8, 2011: Oblate on Call

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In this blog I want to spend a little time talking about our "Oblate on Call" program. This program has been going on now for oblates affiliated with Conception Abbey for about four or five years, I believe. It is a very helpful program and one we certainly want to continue. The program has no purpose or meaning unless you keep in mind the Rule of St. Benedict, where our founder tells us that: "All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me." So the purpose of the "Oblate on Call" program is to help us at Conception Abbey to carry out this injunction of St. Benedict. At the same time it gives the oblates an opportunity to participate, not only in our prayer life at the Abbey, but also in caring for our guests.

Oblates are of course not monks but they do believe they truly have a special calling to live within the guidelines contained in the Holy Rule "according to their state in life.’

The first duty of an oblate who serves as an Oblate on Call is to welcome all guests as Christ regardless of who they are or of what religious affiliation. The majority of our guests at Conception are probably Roman Catholic but we do have many of other religious affiliations and some who probably have no religious affiliation. So as an Oblate on Call your first duty is to welcome the guest, make them feel welcome, listen to them etc. In other words of first importance is simply HOSPITALITY.

For the most part any oblate who wants to serve in this capacity should have been here at least a couple times for a retreat and should know what each of the buildings is for. Guests, for example, are not allowed in the monastery, the monastic cloister. Certainly the oblate on call should know this and be able to point out the building that is the monastery. Guests are also not allowed on the student residence floors so it would be good for you to know what buildings are used by the seminarians. In general, the more you know about the place, the more helpful you will be.

I do want to emphasize that the oblates on call do have a program and in general you should follow the program. However, if there is something on that program that you simply cannot do, don’t try to do it. We don’t want anyone hurting their back or doing something which could injure them.

Since we have many youth on campus here it is also important you have gone through the program "PROTECTING GOD’S CHILDREN" before you take on this work. This is the Virtus program that is approved by most dioceses in the United States.

We have found the Oblate on Call program to be very helpful to us here at Conception Abbey and we appreciate so very much the oblates who offer themselves for this work when they can. Please let us know if you are able to participate in this program and are interested in doing so. Contact Sheri Reid, the oblate coordinator for the program, Karen Ceckowski or Father Kenneth.