Eight Make Oblation in 2013
Eight women and men from the Atchison area and beyond were welcomed as oblates of Mount St. Scholastica on April 27, 2013. These people have been attracted both to the spirituality of the Benedictine way and to this Benedictine community.
Two of them are from the Oklahoma City area and are part of an oblate group that continues to meet there after the departure of the Red Plains sisters. Sister Melissa Letts is their leader; however, since she is living in Atchison and cannot attend every meeting, a group of the oblates there do the local coordination and leadership. New oblates Marka Acton and Connie Harrison have traveled to Atchison several times in the past two years to acquaint themselves with their "new" and much larger community. Marka is an accountant who is very active in her parish. Attending retreats at Red Plains led her to a desire for a deeper spirituality. She sought oblation because "to belong to a community of people who know this to be a life directed towards salvation are just the folks I want to be around." Connie, too, found the sisters through retreats. Her faith is expressed particularly in the areas of peace and justice, both in the civic realm and within her Methodist church. The peace of the Benedictine way is especially attractive to her: "There is a purpose to simple tasks, a greater self-awareness, and a more serene and centered approach to daily living."
Judy Valente also came from a distance to find her spiritual home. An author and a reporter for public radio and television, she first met the sisters while doing a story. Although she lives in Bloomington, Ill., she has been spending time with the sisters over the past two years through frequent trips. The tangible result is a book about the sisters that will be published later this year, but the reporting also led to the deepening of her own spirituality within the monastic context. Monasticism speaks to her because, as she says, "The Benedictine values of listening, silence, contemplation and care of creation mirror perfectly what the poet tries to do in art."
Two other new oblates are part of the group that meets in Atchison under the direction of Sister Thomasita Homan. Rebecca Taylor, originally from New York, now lives in Circleville, Kansas and is a parish catechist. "During my first retreat at the Mount two years ago, I was struck by the welcoming sense of peace, tranquility, and connectedness. Learning about the Rule has really shown me the way I want to live," is the way she describes her path to oblation. Patrick Mulvihill has known the sisters for decades since attending educational programs at his church in Perry, Kansas. He works for the state of Kansas as an insurance fraud investigator and is grateful for the spiritual nourishment. He says, "I look forward each day for the opportunity to pray the psalms and scriptures and to reflect upon them. I have become more aware of the presence of God within me and others."
The other three oblates are from the Kansas City area. Darrin Allen, a lifelong Catholic, is a network engineer who decided to do some serious exploration of his faith and was led to the oblate group through the community's website. "I really began to search out God," he recalls, "and it was here where I found what I was searching for in the Benedictine way of life."
Marla Looper is a family interventionist and addictions counselor who met the sisters through her association with Keeler Women's Center. She connects her oblation with her personal and professional life saying, "The Rule of Benedict, as with the 12-steps, is not just a list of rules; they are guides characterized by balance, simplicity and humility." Both Marla and Darrin attend the oblate group in Kansas City, Kansas, led by Sister Molly Brockwell.
Tom Blake attends a group that meets in Kansas City with Sister Therese Elias. Tom has been professionally associated with sisters from Atchison for many years as a teacher and educational administrator. Through these relationships and programs at Sophia Center, he felt called to the community and was especially happy to make his oblation this year. "Why now?” he asks and replies, "Because the Light/Fire of the Mount sesquicentennial lantern beckons me, welcomes me, lights a path." The new oblates join over 100 other men and women of very diverse lives who share a commitment to foster Benedictine values in their lives and to be united with the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica.
Read the homily given by Sister Judith Sutera at the Rite of Oblation.