We have friends who are oblate. They are prayerful, warm hearted, kind and most of all God-fearing people. My whole family have known them for more than three years now. During the pre-pandemic years, we visited them almost every week. My youngest daughter and I would eat breakfast with them and joined them as choirs singing for the celebration of the holy mass.
Our friends are called the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis Xavier. I don’t know much about their congregation but what I know is that they were founded by Bishop Filippo Tipaldi. He was the bishop of Ariano, Italy in the 18th century. Obviously, they are followers of St. Francis Xavier who was one of the very first members of the Jesuit order. In the 16th century St. Francis Xavier travelled to Asia as a Christian missionary spreading the love and teachings of Christ.
What does it mean to be oblate?
As per Wikipedia, an oblate is a person who has dedicated himself/herself to God and serving God. They can be members of the laity or the clergy. They need not be ordained or professed monks. They promised to renounce worldly way of life and devoted themselves to spiritual works.
The word oblate came from the Latin word oblatus which refers to someone who has been offered. The word was used differently all throughout the history of the church. The earliest was in the houses under the rule of St. Benedict. The term oblate was used in the said monastery to refer to children offered by their parents to live a monastic life.
In the 11th century, servants who provided services freely to the monastery and promised obedience to the monastic order and belief are called oblati while the other members who do not serve in the monastery are called conversi. Oblati is plural of oblato in Latin which means oblate in English.
In this modern era, there are two classifications of oblate people. They are secular and conventual. Simply put, seculars are those who chose to live out of the monastery and practice their vows to the community that they belong to in their private life while conventuals are those who chose to live inside the monastery or community house.
Some of the congregations which consider themselves as oblates are the following.
Oblates of St. Francis de Sales
Oblates of the Virgin Mary
Oblate Sisters of Providence
Oblates of St. Joseph
And of course, the congregation of our friends, Oblate Sisters of St. Francis Xavier
What we admire about our oblate friends?
Our oblate friends are nuns living in their monastery. They are truly good-hearted and joyful people. Spending time with them is fun but more importantly soul enriching. Their activities always entail faith and service to others encapsulating the two greatest commandments stated by Jesus which is loving God above all and loving your neighbors as yourself. Before pandemic, we tried as much as possible to join them in their charitable activities.
The Oblate Sisters of St. Francis Xavier are very prayerful. They pray for the intentions of those who visit them. Everyone is welcome to knock on their door and tell them braveof the things that they want to be prayed for. A brother from our Couples for Christ Community was very thankful that he followed my advice to ask our nun friends to pray for his son who was about to take the licensure exam for Architecture. His son passed the exam and he is just very grateful to the Lord and to the oblate sisters. Praying for others sincerely is one good thing my husband and I admire about our oblate friends.
One of the missions of our friends’ congregation is caring for special children. We cannot forget the time when we attended a Christmas party sponsored by the oblate sisters for these children. We saw how our friends made each one of them happy. As a couple, we admire the way the sisters of St. Francis Xavier give value to the life of everyone especially those that are incapacitated and under privileged.
In the peak of the pandemic. Our nun friends saw the need to help those whose financial means were affected by the pandemic so they put up a community pantry. In their pantry, it is not only the body that they feed but also the soul because the people pray the rosary before the distribution of the goods begin. This brave and kind deed of helping the body and soul of others amidst danger is a moral value that my husband and I truly admire about our oblate friends.
The Oblate Sisters of St. Francis Xavier accepts donations for their missions and outreach programs. They are also open to those who want join their congregation. Reach out to them by visiting their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Oblate-Sisters-of-St-Francis-Xavier-199007610490562/.
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St. Francis Xavier
3. Catholic Hierarchy
Bishop Filippo Tipaldi