4th International Oblates Congress
Concluding words from Fr Edward Linton:
Read here the concluding words from Edward Linton to the Congress.
Address of the Abbot Primate:
Read here Abbot Primate Gregory Polan’s address to the Congress.
Personal reflection on the Congress:
Read here Neil Zoladkiewicz’s reflection on the Congress.
Web article by Judith Valente about the Congress:
Read here Judith Valente’s web article about the Congress.
Joan Chittister’s address to the Congress:
Read here Joan Chittister’s address “Let the call be heard” presented at the Congress.
Congress is over:
it’s all over …. How quickly a week can pass! A new venue and a new organizing committee …
The change of venue from the previous three Congresses was thrust upon the organizing team in August – very short notice : miracles can happen and so for the fourth Congress we met at the Fraterna Domus in Sacrofano. A very different setting to the Salesianum, but quite acceptable.
The previous Congresses had been organised by a small team of highly qualified Italians and had been thoroughly enjoyed by us all. For this Congress, the fourth, an International Team of oblates was formed, together with Fr Edward Linton, a priest from St Meinrad’s in USA, who was specifically invited to Rome, to Sant’ Anselmo, to ensure the organization for this Congress lived up to the past high standards. We were not disappointed.
The Team had worked extremely hard over the past four years, and even harder (it that is possible) as the time drew nearer to the opening of the fourth Congress. Especial acknowledgement has to go to not only Fr Edward for his great organizational skills and overall calmness, but also to the members of the UK Oblates Team, Klara and Thomas Brunnhuber, who played such a terrific role in the preparation and the day-to-day running of proceedings. Thank you very much – a very high template has been created for the next Congress.
And yes, the Oblate Primate, Abbot Gregory Polan, is keen for a Fifth Congress – so start saving now!
(This is actually a very serious suggestion – the cost of attending these Congresses is not cheap and so many oblates, not just from the Third World, but also from our own UK communities, find it very difficult to attend. Perhaps if each monastic community, when meeting with their oblates, could begin some form of savings scheme, that will assist towards oblates from more of our UK communities being able to attend next time.)
The keynote speaker was Sr Joan Chittister OSB, a member of the St Erie community and well known to most oblates worldwide. Sr Joan was due to address the Congress on Tuesday, but she was at the Congress several days before and after – what a wonderful Sister. This meant that oblates were able to approach her informally during our many times of Aperitivi. As was to be expected Sr Joan’s talk gave us all much ‘food for thought’ and caused a diverse range of comments.
Our day out in Rome on Wednesday was enjoyable and tiring. We had excellent seats for the General Audience with Pope Francis and in the afternoon (after a tasty lunch) a visit to Tre Fontane Abbey, where St Paul was beheaded, before attending Vespers with the monks at Sant’ Anselmo.
This was our only deviation from our days at Fraterna Domus. Each day was filled from 7am to 9.30pm : Silent meditation/Lectio Divina – Lauds – Breakfast – Workshop Groups – Mass – Lunch – Workshops – Vespers – Aperitivi – Dinner – Compline. And, of course, intermittent breaks for coffee!
Oblates from around the world – 36 countries – 160+ oblates together with some oblate directors (another deviation from previous Congresses!) Unfortunately oblates from Nigeria and India had delays in visas and so were not with us. Meal times, and workshops, enabled us to get to know each other quite well and to lower some of the cultural barriers – a really wonderful seven days.
Many pictures were taken during our Congress and these, together with detailed notes, will appear on the official Congress website over the next few weeks.
New Venue for our Congress – Miracles Do Happen!
In early August, the Organising Committee received the most alarming news: the Salesianum, the venue for all previous Congresses, would be closing its doors for legal reasons in October 2017. Our miracle came in the form of our beautiful new venue, Fraterna Domus in Sacrofano, suggested to Fr Edward Linton, O.S.B. by one of his myriad contacts. It’s absolutely perfect for our purposes, being situated fairly close to Rome and comprised of a compact little ‘village’ of buildings for accommodation, dining, modern conference facilities and a wonderfully spacious and light church, surrounded by the most amazing views of the Italian countryside.
On 7th October, the Core Organising Team visited the site and was given a tour by Sr Maria, who is overseeing Fraterna Domus.
Oblate Vision Survey
The Fourth World Congress of Benedictine Oblates places great importance on reaching and involving as many oblates as possible over and above those who will be attending in person, be it before, during or after the event itself. One key initiative is the recent launch of an Oblate Vision Survey, aiming to gain a more universal understanding of what it means to be an oblate in various parts of the world, and a vision of what oblation can mean in the years ahead. The responses to this survey will help develop a Vision Statement at the Congress and pave the way for the work that we will do in the future – connecting the work of this Congress with future Congresses. If you are an oblate or oblate director, and would like to participate, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for the link to complete the survey (deadline: 30th October 2017).
Notes to Congress participants
A few requests from the Congress Organisers:
Once you have made your travel arrangements, please fill in Fr Edward Linton’s travel information form by following the link in the second paragraph of his recent email ‘4th World Congress of Benedictine Oblates: Registration status August 2017’.
In the form, please indicate whether you wish to make use of the organised transfer from Fiumicino airport to Fraterna Domus (cost: 10 Euro). Please note that transfer will only be available on 4th November and only from Fiumicino airport. If you arrive at an earlier date or at a different airport or station, please make your way on the 4th to Fiumicino if you wish to take up the offer.
Please note that training sessions for volunteers will kick off Saturday afternoon, 4th November. (You can also sign up for volunteering tasks on arrival.)
Please bring 5-10 suitable magazines with you with interesting images for our collage workshop ‘The Changing Landscape of Oblate Life around the World’ on 6th November.
Please make sure that you have valid health insurance for the duration of your stay.
A huge thank you to all oblates, monasteries and organisations who have already donated to our Congress Fund. This has allowed us to offer sponsorships to 12 oblates from all over the world to attend this year’s Congress, who would otherwise not have had the means to join us in Rome.
To make a donation, either pass it on to the oblate/oblate director attending the Congress to take along or please fill in this form hosted by St Meinrad Archabbey on behalf of the Congress.
There is still time sponsor an ad in this year’s Congress Programme Booklet. Whether you want to send greetings to your own monastery’s representative(s), say hello to all oblates at the Congress and worldwide, or honour a special person who is an inspiration to you as an oblate, an ad is a lovely way to express your gratitude and well wishes. Please email Fr Edward at email@example.com if you have made a donation and wish to place an ad in the Programme Booklet. The deadline for placing ads for this year’s Congress is 20th October 2017.
Donations of any size are most appreciated and will be collated in the newly created Notker Wolf Fund. All funds raised will be used to prepare future Congresses, sponsor Congress delegates from the developing world, and support oblate projects.
Posters for the Congress
Thank you for all the posters submitted for exhibition at the Congress. The deadline for submission has now passed. If you have any queries regarding a poster, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The 4th International Oblates Congress will take place from 4th to 10th November 2017 at Fraterna Domus near Rome, Italy. It is aimed at Benedictine oblates, oblate novices and oblate directors keen to discuss, to share, to celebrate, to pray and work together, exploring the Congress theme ‘A way forward – The Benedictine Community in Movement’.
Over 240 oblates from all over the world have now registered. The official Congress language will be English, with plenum lectures translated into French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
Since November 2015, when Fr Edward Linton, O.S.B. officially launched the preparation of the 2017 Congress at Sant’Anselmo in Rome (Italy), representatives of the international team (including UK National Coordinator Klara Brunnhuber) have held numerous meetings at Sant’Anselmo, the Abbey of Niederaltaich (Germany) and London (UK).
Together they developed the theme for the Congress and summarised their aspirations in the following Congress Announcement:
A WAY FORWARD – THE BENEDICTINE COMMUNITY IN MOVEMENT
The brothers (and sisters) should serve one another (RB 35)
What does it mean to be an oblate in the 21st century? Formed by the Rule of St Benedict, what is our responsibility for our broken world? How can we act as peacemakers showing hospitality in the face of war, terrorism, refugee crises and religious fanaticism? How can we serve as stewards of an abused planet as challenged and inspired by Pope Francis and his encyclical “Laudato Si”? How can we experience stability when monastic communities are shrinking and disappearing? How can we live a life of silence, contemplation and simplicity surrounded by chaos, idolised entertainment, digital noise and consumerism? How can we as oblates create and contribute to communities around us – in our oblate groups and chapters, in our families and neighbourhoods, in our workplaces and in society as a whole (and even, in our own monasteries of oblation)? The 4th World Congress of Benedictine Oblates, to be held in Rome 4-10 November 2017, invites participants who want to take an active role in facing these challenges, sharing their stories, working and volunteering, searching for answers. We are looking for participants who want to carry their newly gained knowledge back home to become change agents in their own communities – together finding a new way forward.
A formal invitation for the 2017 Congress has now gone out to oblate directors, so if you would like to represent your monastery at this wonderful gathering of oblates from all over the world, please talk to your oblate director today.
Even if you can’t attend in person, there are numerous ways to get involved:
- Translations: The organisers are very keen to hear from you if you are able to help with translations into or from the different Congress languages.
- Posters: All oblates are invited to submit electronic posters introducing their oblate communities, chapters and monasteries; showcasing innovative channels of communication with other oblates; or showing how oblates/oblate communities have responded to any of the challenges outlined in the Congress Announcement above. Posters will be exhibited during the Congress and compiled into an eBook following the Congress.
- Donations: Please get in touch if you would like to support the Congress financially (for example sponsor a delegate from the developing world): email@example.com.