World Congress of Oblates: Rome 2009–one last note

As I slowly but surely find myself re-immersed in the daily life of a church musician in Muscatine, Iowa, I find that I am fed and energized by continuing thoughts of the twelve days in Rome. This last reflection did not come from any particular talk or meeting or experience. Rather these thoughts seem to sum up the underlying spirit of the Congress. Continue Reading

Rome 2009: Continued Reflection

As busy and consuming as the Oblate congress was, I did manage to see some of Rome itself–on its own terms, more or less.

On the surface, Rome is all distraction and too-muchness: too many people, too many cars, buses and motor scooters, too many historical sites, too many churches, too many languages, and too many cultures–from high religion to high fashion. Continue Reading

On Mother Maire on Contemplation & Action

I’ve just read Mother Maire Hickey (OSB)’s reflections at the 2009 World Oblate Congress, “The Religious Challenges of Today–the Benedictine answer.”  (You can find her text at  A number of sentences popped out at me as something to chew on for a reflection here, but I’ll pick just one section–one that touches on themes that have preoccupied me, and clearly have given Mother Maire pause as well. Continue Reading

Freedom: Our Spiritual Goal

When Abbot Jerome Kodell, OSB, of Subiaco Monastery in Subiaco, Ark., got up to speak to the Oblates and Sisters gathered to share and reflect together at St. Mary Monastery on a chilly – and sometimes snowy – October morning, he challenged us to consider our state of freedom. Interior freedom, he said, is quite different from independence, and as such is the goal of our spiritual lives. Continue Reading

Oblate Day 2009

Beginning and ending with a few rays of sun with snow in between, today’s retreat was mind-blowing. The Sisters of St. Benedict hope the 65+ Oblates had as wonderful a time as they did. In the next week or so, we will post pictures and even try to upload a video of our presenter, Abbott Jerome. We missed those of you who were unable to attend. Any thoughts from those who were present?

An Oyibo in Nigeria by Bill Maakestad

The following piece was written by Bill Maakestad, a Benedictine Oblate of St. Mary Monastery from Macomb, Ill. He plans to contribute posts occasionally. Welcome, Bill!

Sara and Stephanie, my nieces who had traveled with their father to his homeland of Nigeria, were trying their best to prepare me for my impending trip to that African nation, but they always seemed to return to “it’s a whole different world there,” “watch your back,” and “it’s going to be very obvious you’re a foreigner.” Mine would not be a typical journey for an American heading to Africa. Continue Reading

World Congress Impressions-A Note from Rome

Buon Giornno  (Did I spell that correctly?) from the Benedictine Oblate World Congress!

I have discovered that I am multi-lingual: I can say “Howdy” in six languages!

There is so much to tell! But, alas, there are only two computers for 250 delegates. I will try to give the fuller picture to those who care to read it when I return home.

For now, three themes have emerged in this week of intense and often very deep conversation among the delegates here. (Every continent is represented except Antarctica, which is probably evidence that penguins are not Benedictine oblates.)

More serously: WE ARE MONASTICS. Continue Reading