Looking to the future, the oblates of the Monastery of St. Gertrude have shifted from a traditional model of leadership and announced a new triad model of lay leadership for the oblate community. New oblate leaders are: Jane Somerton, lead coordinator; Barbara Wodynski, formation coordinator; and Debbie McCoy, administrative coordinator.
The team takes over leadership from Sister Teresa Jackson and Oblate Jeannette Kelley. As coordinators for almost fourteen years, Jeannette and Sister Teresa led the community through substantial growth and change. The entire community is grateful for their prayerful leadership and guidance over the years.
While the Covid-19 virus caused cancellation of all 2020 retreats and local/regional in-person meetings as well as closing of the Monastery to the public, the new team jumped in July 1 with energy and creativity to continue support and leadership for the widely disbursed community of lay Benedictines.
In October a group of oblates presented a very successful workshop retreat (via Zoom and St. Gertrude’s L.I.V.E.) entitled “Creative Peacemaking in Difficult Conversations.” More than 60 people registered for the retreat.
Since July the new leadership team has met regularly via Zoom and instituted monthly representative council meetings to facilitate ongoing formation, support, and leadership in the community. There are nine local area oblate communities spread throughout Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Montana as well as a few oblates in California. Groups have been creatively navigating Covid-19 guidelines by meeting in local parks and backyards with masks and distancing as well as using online meetings to maintain community connections and support for one another.
Two new oblates and novices were welcomed into the community this summer during those local area meetings. While not the ritual normally celebrated in the beautiful St. Gertrude’s chapel surrounded by their cenobitic and oblate sisters and brothers, it is still a step forward and we celebrate our new members.
Oblates are men and women, married or single, active in any Christian denomination, who closely associate themselves with the Monastery of St. Gertrude through an initiation process and formal oblation (promise). There are nearly 100 oblates of the Monastery of St. Gertrude, living throughout the Pacific Northwest.