Used with permission of artist,
Sr. Mary Charles McGough, OSB
An increasing number of lay people are attracted to a life of prayer and to a more complete dedication to God. Although these lay people do not wish to abandon their families, their jobs, or their responsibilities in society, they are drawn to a deeper life of prayer and communion and they desire to form small communities with other lay people. Moreover, many of these people find support, nourishment, and enrichment for their spiritual life by participating in a close relationship with a monastic community (Plaiss, 1999). An increasing number of people are genuinely interested in the spirituality associated with monasticism. These people do not live in traditional monastic communities yet they find monasticism, and especially monastic spirituality, appealing (Hensell, 2000).
Many wish to learn about and practice Benedictine spirituality as Benedictine oblates but are not able to attend regular meetings in a traditional (i.e., in-person) classroom setting. Unfortunately, the synchronous nature of traditional oblate chapters may cause them to be unavailable to some of the laity. Time constraints, geographic distances, work and family demands, physical disabilities, and health circumstances are among the reasons traditional oblate chapters might not be available to interested laity who might otherwise be able to participate.
There are also oblates who participate in traditional oblate chapters but want more frequent contact and sharing with other oblates.
Historically, oblate chapters have been remarkably responsive to the spiritual needs of the times and have shown elasticity and a creative response to the needs of a particular circumstance interpreted through the Benedictine tradition (Buchanan, 1999). As an example of this creativity and elasticity, Sacred Heart Monastery has decided to offer a Benedictine Online Oblate Chapter (BOOC) in order to provide an alternative for laity who wish to become oblates but desire or require the anytime, anywhere online alternative, and for oblates who have already made oblation but want more....
Online technologies are becoming the delivery systems of choice for those who are otherwise engaged during traditional contact hours (Collison, Elbaum, Haavind, & Tinker, 2000). BOOC offers a traditional oblate chapter curriculum and employs “best practices” for online certificate programs and online courses (WCET, 2002). It is the hope of Sacred Heart Monastery that BOOC will provide a viable alternative to and/or an enhancement of traditional (i.e., in-person, classroom-based) oblate chapters.
Buchanan, J. (1999). Monks beyond monastery walls: Benedictine oblation and the future of Benedictine spirituality. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Graduate Theological Foundation of Donaldson, Indiana.
Collison, G., Elbaum, B., Haavind, S. & Tinker, R. (2000). Facilitating Online Learning: Effective Strategies for Moderators. Madison, WI: Atwood Publishing.
Hensell, E. (2000, June). Letter from the editor. The American Monastic Newsletter, 30 (2), 1.
Plaiss, M. (1999). Lay monasticism. Cistercian Studies Quarterly, 34(3), 369-373.
Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications, Boulder CO, & Western Cooperataive for Educational Communications. (2002). Best practices for electronically offered degree and certificate programs. Colorado: Author. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED468164).
Launch Information on BOOC
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BECOMING AN ONLINE OBLATE, PLEASE FILL OUT THIS FORM:
Benedictine Online Oblate Chapter Director
Sacred Heart Monastery
1005 West 8th Street
Yankton, SD 57078