God calls us to a vocation, whether marriage, being single or leading a religious life, not as a career decision but as a faithful journey. Following His plan for us is an act of love, but that doesn’t always mean that a vocational calling is easy to understand or to live out in our day-to-day lives and normal “jobs.” This is especially true for men who consider a vocation with the Oblates, which is a path to either the priesthood or living as a brother in our community.
Discerning a vocational calling to the Oblates of the Virgin Mary is an opportunity to explore your identity as a member of our community, living and working with fellow men in seminary who share a commitment to the Lord and also challenge each other to grow.
Do You Have a Vocational Calling?
Oblates of the Virgin Mary are called to their vocation by God, and it is a unique experience for every man. Because God’s work is a mystery, there are no absolute signs of a vocation, but we often talk about the serious desire to become a saint, to have a prayerful life of service, and maintaining a devoted relationship with the Virgin Mary as foundations for this calling.
One thing we know for sure is that a vocational calling to the Oblates is not for those looking for an escape from the world. In addition to being a man of prayer, our brothers have the empathy and down-to-earth nature to reach out to others without judgement.
Part of this comes from having healthy life experiences before entering formation and the shelter of seminary life, like going to college or working. By being aware of the real world temptations that can lead us away from God, you’ll be better prepared to guide people toward Christ with compassion and understanding.
If you’ve experienced the world and are searching for a way to help others find God’s love, He might now be calling you to follow His plan to join the Oblates.
Discerning Your Path
We understand that there’s anxiety that comes with trying to hear God’s call and deciding what to do next. You’ll likely have fears about not dating, or not having a family, or being criticized by your peers and society. It’s not uncommon to worry that you’re not worthy of this life based on past sins.
Learning to discern God’s will takes time, prayer, and, perhaps most importantly, a spiritual director who can guide you toward hearing His voice in your daily life. Spiritual direction can help you become aware of and acknowledge your fears, take them to prayer, and ask for a sense of peace. When it comes to discerning a calling with the Oblates, we are here to help and offer guidance.
The role of formation: ready to date?
Here’s some good news: you don’t need to be absolutely sure about becoming a priest or religious brother to explore your vocation. Our formation process is a key part of working through this big decision, and, in many ways, it’s just like the start of any new relationship.
During the first year as a postulant, you’re in a dating stage and figuring out if the life is a good match. Novitiate gets you ready to pop the question, and the next four years of Theologate is a long engagement. The final commitment, the big “I do” to God and His Church, is when on Oblate makes their final profession. Many will go on after this to be ordained to the priesthood as well.
Discernment doesn’t end when you reach out to us about being called to the Oblates. It continues as you move forward in your relationship with us.
“Formation has challenged me to grow in community and in my spiritual life so I can be a more mature man given fully to Jesus, Mary and Venerable Bruno’s mission.”Br. Jonas Verdeflor, OMV
Choosing the Oblates
All religious orders have a sense of community. If someone discerns the call to priesthood, that priesthood is the same priesthood, given by Christ, no matter what religious community one is apart of. However, the Oblate vocation is unique, starting with our charism and love of our founder Bruno Lanteri.
Ven. Lanteri’s focus on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius means that our formation emphasizes the ability to encounter souls and people no matter where they are on life’s journey. Oblates help to bring people to God’s mercy and grace through the spiritual exercises. The call of an Oblate is to accompany people on the path of holiness on their way to becoming a saint.
Continuous prayer in silence? Not for the Oblates. There is a balance between our prayer life and mission. In fact, our mission is an act of prayer.
“Oblate formation is about forming us as men for mission and community. We are preparing for life together and for others, to be able to trust our brothers and serve God’s people.”Br. Nathan Marzonie, OMV
Community, with accountability
At the recent annual assembly for all Oblate brothers, we spent time reflecting on the importance of accountability in our community life. The camaraderie of our God-chosen family makes it easy for us to laugh, cry, and celebrate our lives and calling together. But being a brother is more than that.
For us, accountability means each one of us is helping each other grow in holiness so that we share our gifts and our talents. Acknowledging who we are as individuals and taking the time to see how we’re doing as people is a key component. Our weaknesses and limitations make us human, and our fellowship makes us strong.
Reach Out to Us
Once you feel your calling to the Oblates, we welcome you to reach out to connect with us on a more personal level. Our vocations director, Father John, can offer more information and guide you to discern your calling. Attending a “Come & See” weekend at Our Lady of Grace Seminary in Boston will also help you determine if you feel at home with the Oblates.
Most of all, we want you to be successful in discerning a vocational calling, whether or not that’s becoming an Oblate. Get in touch and we can help you decide if it’s best to move forward or move on to something that’s closer to God’s plan for you. Just like dating.
What else would you like to know about becoming an Oblate or discerning a vocation? If you’ve considered religious life, what was most helpful for you in the process? We hope to connect with you in the comments below.