Meet the Oblates

Our lay members are called oblates. 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).

The Oblate Community has nine area groups: Boise, Idaho; Prairie (Cottonwood, Idaho area); Lewiston, Idaho; Palouse (Moscow, Idaho and Pullman, Washington area); McCall, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; North Idaho (Coeur d’Alene area); Missoula, Montana; and Puget Sound, Washington.

Meet some of our oblates…

Boise, Idaho oblates:

Laura OleagaLaura Oleaga

Oblate since: 2007

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate has given and continues to give me so much. I’ve found my spiritual home, with the sisters and fellow oblates who live their faith the Benedictine way and we walk this faith journey together. It was so difficult for me to find a group of Christians that have a deep, living faith. This group does. At last I understand the concept of community. As part of my oblation I have been saying the liturgy of the hours morning and evening. This begins and ends each day focused on the Lord, which helps me with everything during the rest of the day. I’ve even been told that my personality has become more calm and patient.

Martha EkhoffMartha Ekhoff

Oblate since: 2006

What being an oblate means to me: Being a Benedictine oblate provides me with a solid foundation for living from the Rule of Benedict in love for God, the monastic community, the oblate community and the world; it calls forth prayer and silence in my life, it undergirds the contemplative life for me; it gives me the mindful actions to intentionally be hospitable, to be present to injustice and create action in response to the injustices in our world; to honor and embrace all of God’s creation with simplicity and reverence.

Vivian ParrishVivian Parrish

Oblate since: 2007

What being an oblate means to me: Committing to the Benedictine values has deepened and grown my spiritual walk in this world. Focusing on listening, prayer, community, humility, work, holy leisure, giftedness, hospitality, obedience and stability continues to open my heart and soul to the Lord. The monastery’s work especially with caring for God’s creation and being a social justice voice in Idaho has also drawn me to this community. This community brings wisdom to my life.

JulieAnn HorrasJulieAnn Horras

Oblate since: 2010

What being an oblate means to me: I love being an oblate. Living the Benedictine way centers my spiritual life.

Marilyn Summers

Oblate since: 2005

Bob Parrish

Oblate since: 2019

McCall Area Oblates

Debbie McCoyDebbie McCoy

Oblate since: 2006

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate means I attempt to live my life according to the Rule of Benedict in my own daily life. I heard a Benedictine monk describe this way of life as a 3-legged stool consisting of work, prayer, and holy leisure which includes study and reading. This is how I see my spirituality unfolding in the oblate community. I also am connected to the sisters in community and pledge to support them as I am able to do so.

Mike McCoy

Oblate since: 2017

Vivian Gilbert

Oblate since: 1993

Joanne ZimmerJo-Anne Zimmer

Oblate since: 2013

What being an oblate means to me: My oblation to the Monastery of St Gertrude has been a profound commitment to both the monastic and oblate communities. Living my life as a lay person according to the Rule of Benedict has given my life the roots, values, structures and rules by which to live my life. This has continued to be the seed for growth and change in my life.

The Prairie oblates:

Peggy DorfPeggy Dorf

Oblate since: 2008

What being an oblate means to me: I am sharing in this community with like-minded people who pull me in like a family — into prayer, friendship and service.  I’m very aware of and striving to live the Rule of St. Benedict and the charisms of the Sisters of St. Gertrude’s, along with this cherished group of oblates. It’s an honor to be a part of this community who helps and challenges me to growth in my inner spirit life.

Spike DorfSpike Dorf

Oblate since: 2008

What being an oblate means to me: As I witness the Sisters of St. Gertrude’s examples of Healing Hospitality, Grateful Simplicity, and Creative Peacemaking I’m constantly reminded of the Benedictine way of life. The slow transformation is hopefully taking place in my own life as I try to be absorbed in a Benedictine lifestyle. The sisters have given us all a trip ticket to follow and I will always be grateful to them. To be a part of a loving community of sisters and fellow oblates is humbling and comforting.

Fred KelleyFred Kelley

Oblate since: 1988

What being an oblate means to me: Mutually sharing our spiritual journey, using the Rule of St. Benedict as a guide.

Jeannette KelleyJeanette Kelley

Oblate since: 1988

What being an oblate means to me: The Rule of St. Benedict and the Monastery of St. Gertrude community of sisters and oblates provide challenge, encouragement, and wisdom in my seeking God and being Christ to others.

Linda Stubbers

Linda Stubbers

Oblate since: 1988

What being an oblate means to me: I have been an oblate since 1988, one of the group of eight people that were the first oblates of St. Gertrude’s. At that time we were called extended members and the process was very different than now. We each had a sister sponsor and studied and discerned with this person.

When I received the invitation to start this journey, because I knew many of the sisters at the monastery, I knew the values that they shared were the values I wanted in my life. Hospitality, Simplicity and Peace is evident in the lives of all at the monastery and even when difficult, guides what they do and how they live.

Living this commitment in ordinary life is my challenge and joy. No bells call me to prayer so making and taking time to stop and listen to God is sometimes not easy. Living with simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean to just not buy something but remembering always the difference between needs, wants, and not hanging on to “stuff.” Being hospitable means so much more than welcoming people into my home but also into my heart, especially when we might have differences.

Awareness of all this and more has been the best gifts of all. Sharing this journey with all the oblates has become a necessity.

Nikki Nordstrom

Oblate since: 2005

Sandy Sisk

Oblate since: 2016

Lewiston, Idaho oblates:

Patricia (Pat) SchaffPat Schaff

Oblate since: 1991

What being an oblate means to me: I was invited to look into the oblate group by my dear friend, Sister Mary Kay Henry, who told me my life was already very “Benedictine” and she felt I would be a perfect fit. She was right as I was seeking balance, simplicity and peace. I have gained all of these along with great community and direction through the Rule. Being an oblate strengthens my Faith, makes me a better steward in a material world, gives me a deeper love of God and neighbor as I try to “listen with the ear of my heart and see with the Heart of Christ.” I love sharing the same spiritual journey with the sisters and oblates to promote prayer, justice and reverence for life at all stages. Thank you, Mary Kay, St. Gertrude’s, and fellow oblates.

Kathy CahillKathy Cahill

Oblate since: 2011

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate means belonging to a community that makes me feel at home and at the same time challenges me. Over the years I feel I have been living “the Rule of Benedict” really not knowing or putting a name to it until I became an oblate. The cenobitic and oblate communities help me to make a more conscious effort in living out the values of St. Benedict’s Rule in ways God is calling me through Healing Hospitality, Grateful Simplicity and Creative Peacemaking.

Mary J MinetteMary Jayne Minnette

Oblate since: 1998

What being an oblate means to me: We were asked a couple of years ago what it meant to be an Oblate. I thought about my Oblate journey and how it affected my daily life and why I wanted to continue on this journey.  So I took each letter in the word “oblates” and came up a word that spoke clearly to me about being a Benedictine oblate.

O:  Obedience: To God, scripture, prayer time.

B:  Balance: Am I balancing my time with God, family, oblate group and work?

L:  Listening: Am I listening for God or am I only talking to hear myself?  I need to listen with the ear of my heart.

A:  Accountability: Can God depend on me to be a true servant or will he find me not ready to serve?

T:  Time:- Do I make time for God, my daily prayer, family, others and lastly myself?

E:   Example: Is my faith journey an example for others to follow? Do they see the “fire or love” of Jesus and want to follow me? Do I lead by example?

S:   Stability: It helps me through the dullness and hard times and it stills my wandering heart. It helps me to stay grounded in Christ and to help me be a better person.

I know there are many other words to use but these words speak volumes to my heart about being a Benedictine oblate. They help keep me grounded in my daily walk with Christ, my family, my oblate and monastic family and friends.

Charlene BunchCharlene Bunch

Oblate since: 2001

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate means coming home to me. When I discovered Benedictine spirituality, I knew that now I had a name for the way I knew God was leading me to live. Since I was a child, I have directed all my “self talk” to God and decided I was destined to be an ordinary person living an ordinary life and that is where God lives. As an oblate I am connected with a community that seeks God together in our ordinary lives. The balance of listening to God’s voice with the ear of my heart in prayer and lectio set the tone for finding God in the work and moments of every day life. And when life has become less ordinary for me, my oblate community as in the words of “The Servant Song” has been “holding the Christ-light” for me.

Arlene StoddardArlene Stoddard

Oblate since: 2011

What being an oblate means to me: I’ve been on a spiritual journey for as long as I can remember. When I came to the Monastery of St. Gertrude as a volunteer and was introduced to the monastic way of St. Benedict, I realized that I had been walking the path of a monk without a community. It’s been very affirming to walk with brothers and sisters who share the adventure as we encourage, challenge and pray with one another along the “Way”.

Joan BurrowsJoan Burrow

Oblate since: 2008

What being an oblate means to me: As an oblate of this monastery, I am a grateful part of a community whose intention is to live charisms generated from the Rule of St. Benedict. I am able to seek a closer relationship with God, in the company of like minded people on a similar journey, supporting and being supported by them, being guided by that Rule, in my everyday life.

Kay TottenKay Totten

Oblate since: 2003

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate means falling down and getting up and often many times a day! I try to live in balance, simplicity, and in obedience as both an oblate and a deacon. Both roles are equally stretching!

Alyse CadezAlyse Cadez

Oblate since: 1995

What being an oblate means to me: As a woman I’ve found the sisters understanding and depth of knowledge of their faith a living breathing support.  Benedictine Spirituality also has helped me find a home for already deep-seeded beliefs and concerns.

Theresa WesselsTheresa Wessels

Oblate since: 2008

What being an oblate means to me: Fellow Oblates help me grow spiritually, give me a safe place to ask questions about my faith, and encourage me as I journey into my wisdom years. Most of the Benedictine sisters who taught me have died, but their spirits linger in the chapel, the old kitchen, and throughout the grounds at the Monastery. I’m always filled with awe thinking about their work. The Monastery, Spirit Center, Farmhouse, and Inn provide a peaceful place for me to continue my spiritual growth. When I come back home to Cottonwood, the place of my birth, I’m more able to recognize God’s presence in the everyday.

Linda HeidenrichLinda Heidenreich

Oblate since: 2010

What being an oblate means to me: For me being an oblate means I have a supportive community with whom to study, pray, share and grow. The oblate community, grounded in the rule and our ties to the monastic community continues to ground and inspire me – got to love oblate living.

Mary Lou AmadeiMary Lou Amidei

Oblate since: 2005

What being an oblate means to me: Being an Oblate of the Monastery of St. Gertrude is an anchor for me. Being part of the oblate community, having shared experiences, beliefs, charisms, is a touchstone for me. I gain so much from each visit to the Monastery because of the amazing spiritual and intellectual depth of this community. Plus the fun, the laughter, the humor. Praying together in the chapel with the cenobitic community is my favorite shared experience.

Lisa RadakovichLisa Radakovich

Oblate since: 1996

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate means having a spiritual home where I will be loved and accepted. It is like having an owner’s manual for Christian living and decision making.

Cindy YoungbergCindy Youngberg

Oblate since: 1998

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate is giving me direction on my spiritual journey, guiding me in trying to live  my life in a spirit of peace, simplicity, and hospitality. It also helps me try to incorporate the many other Benedicitine charisms and gives me a greater awareness of God in my life, in my family, in my community, and globally. I treasure being on this path with the Benedictine sisters and oblate community.

Elsie Reichlin

Oblate since: 2007

Regina Sullivan

Oblate since: 2000

Palouse oblates:

Christine V. CarneyChristine Carney

Oblate since: 2000

What being an oblate means to me: Choosing to be an oblate means I share the company of a group of people wishing to center and deepen their lives around simplicity, hospitality and peacemaking. I seek to continue to live and extend my life in harmony with these principles. I am encouraged by the lives of those who have gone before me and those who currently strive to reflect God’s presence, wonder and mystery in this manner.

Nancy GillardNancy Gillard

Oblate since: 2005

What being an oblate means to me: Being an Oblate of the Monastery of St. Gertrude is a gift for which I am very grateful. The Oblate community is my earthly cornerstone. I can share my faith and doubts without judgment. They are an intelligent, supportive group of women and men trying their best to follow Christ’s teachings. We are blessed to come together at the monastery under the guidance and wisdom of the cenobitic community. I have no idea what the future holds but feel a whole lot better knowing I have these folks in my corner.

Cathy WeeksKathy Weeks

Oblate since: 1992

What being an oblate means to me: Benedictine spirituality grounds me. Sharing this spirituality with others through the oblate program helps me live this spirituality. Many things have happened in my life since I became an oblate – good and bad – but being an oblate has been my constant.

Karen Bizak MarKaren Bizak-Marr

Oblate since: 2001

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate grounds me in the charisms of hospitality, simplicity, and peace with a group of like minded individuals as we strive to bring these charisms to the world around us.

Carolyn Aschenbrenner

Oblate since: 1988

Barbara Aston

Oblate since: 1994/2018

Earl Aston

Oblate since: 2019

Karla Neumann Smiley

Oblate since: 2019

Sandy Thomas

Oblate since: 1991

Spokane, Washington oblates:

Barbara WodynskiBarbara Wodynski

Oblate since: 2002

What being an oblate means to me: To me, being an oblate gives me a way of life and a spirituality that fits me like a glove. The prayer of the hours, lectio, and the charisms of St. Gertrude’s are the path I want to follow—don’t always follow it well or consistently, but I always know that it’s what I need to return to and begin again and again. Having a community of beautiful people with whom I can share this path is essential; it even becomes a possibility and a hope that we can change the world!

John WodynskiJohn Wodynski

Oblate since: 2014

What being an oblate means to me: I became a oblate to join the movement of followers of St. Benedict, and to be associated with the sisters of St. Gertrude. I love the simple rules of the Benedictine philosophy of praying hard, working hard, eating well, resting, and have fun: great way to enjoy your life.

Lyn RussellLyn Russell

Oblate since: 1997

What being an oblate means to me: The most central thing that being an oblate means is being part of a community willing to share my journey and being willing to share the journeys of all the others. It means having a place and a rule that keeps me grounded while giving me plenty of room to grow (and not being afraid to grow and change). It means fighting my way constantly back to balance, since my pendulum tends to be overactive, and having a rule that shows me what balance means. And it means having the love and support of the best friends anyone could find anywhere.

Jeanne MitchellJeanne Mitchell

Oblate since: 1997

What being an oblate means to me: I was led to this gift of a new way to see God’s presence in my life by a beloved friend, Sister Emagene Warren, who invited me to “come and see”. Nothing can ever change my belief and awareness of the imminent presence of God in my life—to see that presence in others and to have learned some of the many ways that I might bring that presence to others. For that I am very grateful.

Nadine GradyNadine Grady

Oblate since: 2003

What being an oblate means to me: I have a community of like-minded people traveling the same path I am, who can offer me encouragement and guidance as I strive to apply Benedict’s teachings to my life, and who sometimes rely on me to do the same for them. It signifies that I’m serious about this, in it for the long haul, and willing to be public about that commitment.

Betty HuffmanBetty Huffman

Oblate since: 2004

What being an oblate means to me: Trying to live the oblates’ Prayer.

Arlene Rowden

Oblate since: 2000

Esther Wheeler

Oblate since: 2016

North Idaho oblates:

Bonnie Pardenoblate_logo

Oblate since: 2012

What being an oblate means to me: Being an Oblate grounds me in a deeply rooted wisdom tradition, gifting me with a loving like-minded community to share my spiritual journey. It offers me direction as I try to live my life in a spirit of peace, simplicity, balance and hospitality, and as I strive for greater awareness of God in my life, my relationships and the world around me.

Phyllis RossiPhyllis Rossi

Oblate since: 1996

What being an oblate means to me: Being an Oblate and being associated with the sisters of the Monastery of St. Gertrude has enriched my life. Through studying the Rule of St. Benedict I have learned to care for and appreciate all things great and small. Spending time with the sisters and fellow oblates on that holy ground at the Monastery inspires me to be a better person and live a fuller life. I feel truly blessed to be journeying with these Benedictines as they draw me to a closer relationship with God.

Kay StevensonKay Stevenson

Oblate since: 2013

What being an oblate means to me: As I seek to allow (and not resist) the values of prayer, work, hospitality, stability and obedience to transform my life, I am aware of the peace that comes as the Spirit of Christ seeks to guide this transformative process. I love Benedict’s practical, flexible approach in teaching and encouraging these values with Christ-like love. The rich friendships with the Monastic Community and other Oblates are so very supportive and encouraging and I consider them a true blessing.

Mikel StevensonMikel Stevenson

Oblate since: 2013

What being an oblate means to me: Being an Oblate has brought me into a loving, supportive Christian community.  The personal relationships in this community and the ministry received while at St. Gertrude’s have been spiritually enriching. The structure within the Rule of St. Benedict has proven to be a helpful ground and direction with its practical application of Christian faith. A quieting, comforting and assuring resonance arises in my soul whenever I come to St. Gertrude’s or meet with my oblate group.

Ev BurnsLynette “Ev” Burns

Oblate since: 2004

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate of the Monastery of St. Gertrude aligns me with Christ’s presence in my relationships, in my prayer life, in my discipleship, in worship. Being an oblate gives me roots & wings, exploration & accountability on my spiritual journey.

Paula Marano

Oblate since: 2017

Missoula, Montana oblates:

Rick AldredRick Aldred

Oblate since: 2012

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate means being part of the community of the beloved — that communion of saints who in all times and in all places struggle to live and love the way that Jesus of Nazareth demonstrated for us. We use the Rule of St Benedict as a guide. We share our spiritual growth and development together.

Tamara K-AldredTamara Kittelson-Aldred

Oblate since: 2012

What being an oblate means to me: For me being an Oblate means continuity. I appreciate the wisdom that has been distilled through so many centuries in the lives of so many people, beginning with Benedict and Scholastica and including all of us today! With all the changes in our world and the church, Benedictine spirituality is solid and deep. And I love being affiliated with a women’s monastery.

Becky Bishop

Oblate since: 2016

oblate_logoLynnette Nilan

Oblate since: 2018

oblate_logoPatricia Sanderson

Oblate since: 2004

Puget Sound, Washington oblates:

Marianne ReedMarianne Reed

Oblate since: 2005

What being an oblate means to me: From the very beginning of my life Benedict spirituality was a big part of my life. I just didn’t know what it was. My parents were devotees of St. Gertrude’s and we all attended the Academy taught by the Benedictine sisters. Fast forward many years I was invited to an oblate meeting. Very quickly I felt like I had come full circle. I was home again. It is such a gift to journey with those who searching for a deeper walk with the simplicity of Benedict’s way.

BettyMcDonaldBetty McDonald

Oblate since: 2005

What being an oblate means to me: After 10 years of walking in community with the Benedictine oblates and especially our OOPS group (Oblates of Puget Sound) I am beginning to recognize in small ways the transformation I longed for when I committed to the oblate Benedictine way.

Sandy PearsallSandra (Sandy) Pearsall

Oblate since: 2007

What being an oblate means to me: Being a Benedictine oblate of the Monastery of St. Gertrude means community, Community, COMMUNITY; and through that community, service, Service, SERVICE.

Yes, I suppose I could find a sense of community elsewhere, but the Rule of St. Benedict has dwelt in my soul long before I ever knew it existed.  Sharing the desire to follow that Rule with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ, knowing that somewhere in the world there is another Benedictine praying over the same verses in the Rule that I am praying over, even as I am praying, is more awesome and humbling than I have words to express.

And yes, I can find many places to serve, and far closer to my physical home. But my spirit calls the Monastery of St. Gertrude my spiritual home. When I am at the Monastery, my calling to serve the servants of God is reaffirmed with every breath and step I take. My soul calls these sisters my sisters. I hold these sisters and my fellow oblates in prayer even as I know they are holding me in prayer daily. When I reach out to my local community in service through serving the homeless community, it is my way of extending the same spirit of healing hospitality to those in need as the Monastery of St. Gertrude’s extends to all who knock at their door.

Peggy BurtPeggy Burt

Oblate since: 2001

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate, I am part of a community separated by hundreds of miles but linked in our prayer with and for each other. This is especially so when one of the community calls out to us for help.

Pat ThrasherPat Thrasher

Oblate since: 2012

What being an oblate means to me: Being an oblate means to me in one word: GIFT. My heart is full of gratitude for the hospitality shown to me by our local OOPS group, the cenobitic community and the greater oblate group. I recently was asked to discuss Benedictine spirituality and the oblate program for a small group from our parish. The fascinating, indeed astounding news to them was of our ecumenical membership. To my chagrin I realize I had begun to take this for granted. St. Gertrude’s is my spiritual home. Gratitude.

Jo Baim

Oblate since: 2004

Katherine Ramos Baker

Oblate since: 1998

Echo Lamont

Oblate since: 1991

Margaret Holland

Oblate since: 1998

Tamara Lamb

Oblate since: 2019

Columbia Gorge (unofficial)

Jane SommertonJane Somerton

Oblate since: 1988

What being an oblate means to me: The Benedictine Community (sisters and oblates) at St. Gertrude’s have been my friends, spiritual guides and mentors for 35 years. The monastery itself is a place of peace, respite and restoration. The hallmarks of Benedictine spirituality (contemplation, stability, peace, prayer, balance…) continually challenge, comfort, and tug me toward openness, truth and compassion. I cherish the counter-cultural stance that helps me to maintain balance in a very busy daily life. And when I slip out of balance, which is a very human thing to do, the stability and love of this community gently guide me back into right relationship.

Kate MuldoonKate Muldoon

Oblate since: 2003

What being an oblate means to me: From the prologue of the Rule: “What is more delightful than this voice of the Holy One calling us? See how God’s love shows us the way.” The Rule and my oblate community provide me the framework and wisdom to seek and hear God in all things.

Deceased Oblates

Mary Curtis (1941-2019) ~ Became an oblate in 2015
Pat Goldade (1933-2019) ~ Became an oblate in 1995
Joan Hagedorn (1925-2009) ~ Became an oblate in 1997
Alice McIntyre (1935-2004) ~ Became an oblate in 2003
“Mac” McIntyre (1931-2016) ~ Became an oblate in 2003
Maxine Quebral (1927-2016) ~ Became an oblate in 1988
Lori Russell (1935-2004) ~ Became an oblate in 2000
Christine Sandoval (1947-2008) ~ Became an oblate in 2004
Carolyn Sokolowski (1946-2007) ~ Became an oblate in 1990
Mary Lou Wilson (1932-2019) ~ Became an oblate in 2000

Learn about becoming an oblate…