Most Missionary Oblates inquired about religious life or priesthood because we felt some sort of attraction to the idea of a serving God as a brother or priest. We felt deeply that we were being invited to a deep relationship with God, the Church and the world. For most this desire surfaces as an interest in the church: its liturgical and communal life, or in it’s outreach to the poor.
If you’ve experienced something similar, it’s possible that God is calling you to a vocation as a brother or priest. One of the questions people ask when considering a vocation is, ‘what do you have to do become an Oblate priest or brother. What follows are the basic steps.
If you are actively thinking about religious life or priesthood, or if you’re simply curious, feel free to contact our Vocation Director, Fr Ken Thorson OMI. He will be happy to speak with you.
Initially it is a good idea to meet and talk with a local Oblate brother or priest. He will be able to provide you with information and advice as to how to go about making a decision (the process of discernment). He will also be able to share with you his own vocation story.
When the Apostles first met Jesus and were curious about His mission, Jesus told them to come and see. With this in mind we offer a number of weekend discernment retreats throughout the year where you can talk with Oblates and others like yourself who are searching for God’s will in their lives.
If you don't know an Oblate living near you, then contact Fr Ken, who will arrange to visit you, or have an Oblate in your area get in touch with you. Fr Ken is there to help you with your discernment with the hope that the best decision possible will be made both for you and the Oblate community.
Feel free to contact Fr Ken Thorson, our vocation director at any time if you are interested in help with beginning the process of discerning your vocation or have any questions about the process:
Fr. Ken Thorson, OMI
5 St Vital Ave
St Albert, AB
587 985 3553 cell
780 459 2116 office
780 460 4269 home
If, after this first step, you feel a growing interest or attraction to the Oblate life, you can apply to the Pre-Novitiate Community. If your application is accepted you then begin a 10-month preparation period called the Pre-Novitiate. During this time you will live at our Formation House in Ottawa with other Oblate candidates.
This period is a time of orientation and a chance to try on the Oblate way of life to see if it fits. It will give you the chance to meet, work and live with Oblates first-hand, and also to undertake some preliminary studies.
If, during this time of trying on Oblate life, you decide, through prayer and discussions with the community to further explore life as an Oblate, you apply to enter what is called the Novitiate year. This year is at the heart of the Oblate formation process, focusing on our spirituality, the life and charism of our founder St Eugene de Mazenod, our history and traditions, and the vows we profess.
Novitiate is a time set aside for prayer and personal growth in faith, under the guidance of the Director of Novices and a Spiritual Director or Mentor, whose role is to "walk with you" on your journey towards becoming an Oblate.
During this year some feel called to become Oblates – they have a sense of peace and being at home - while others find religious life is not for them and decide to leave. For those who, in dialogue with those on the Novitiate Staff, ask to become Oblates and are accepted, the year concludes with the first formal commitment to the Order, the making of First Vows. These temporary vows include the profession of poverty, chastity, obedience and perseverance for one year.
Once you have made this public commitment to live out the vows for a year, you take up your studies for priesthood or brotherhood. Our students normally take their theological and pastoral studies at The University of St Paul in Ottawa and the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.
Every year, in dialogue with the Oblate community, you will be invited to renew your vows for another year. After three years, you may apply to make your Final Vows, which makes you a full member of the Congregation. In addition to studies, you will be (whether for priesthood or brotherhood) given a variety of ministry experiences to develop skills and prepare you for missionary life. For those becoming priests, ordination to Diaconate comes after Final Vows, and is followed by ordination to the Priesthood.
If you seek to live your Oblate life as a Brother, the formation process may vary in terms of the studies you pursue. This can include social work, catechetics, teaching, and the whole array of professions and trades that might be needed in furthering the mission of the congregation. The steps one takes to become an Oblate Brother are similar to those for Oblate priests. The Oblate Brother is a full member of the Congregation and in the words of our Constitutions and Rules, “Priests and Brothers have complementary responsibilities in evangelizing.”
Our formation lasts a lifetime. As we continue to grow and live out our vocation, we inevitably become more aware of both limitations and strengths. Our limitations may call us to face ourselves in challenging ways, to intentionally seek ways to grow. Similarly, we will come to discover our gifts and strengths. With this discovery comes the responsibility to nourish and deepen strengths and gifts so they may be celebrated and used in service of the mission.
Ongoing formation is a daily process of prayer, meditation, and frank reflection on who we are and what motivates us. Through our daily efforts at self-renewal according to the Gospel, through our sacramental life, through regular study carried on with perseverance, and with our Oblate community we take in hand our own ongoing formation.
Every oblate missionary or priest has contemplated the idea of whether to choose a religious life.
A healthy fear can keep us safe and out of danger but fear can also paralyze us and make us stay stagnant when we ought to push forward. It is in overcoming fear that we risk and open up ourselves to the possibility of something new. As our founder Eugene de Mazenod said, “leave nothing undared.”
Read stories of others making the decision to choose a religious life.