Oblates at Saint Meinrad
The affiliation of lay men and women as oblates of Saint Meinrad Archabbey dates to March 21, 1879, the silver jubilee of the founding of the monastery. On that occasion, Abbot Martin Marty, OSB, Saint Meinrad's first abbot [1870-1880], solemnly introduced the oblate movement at Saint Meinrad.
Promoting the oblate movement was to be one of his main objectives of the next 25 years. However, what was done to further this movement is not known. Any records probably perished in the great fire of 1887, which left only the sandstone walls of the monastery standing.
Abbot Athanasius Schmitt, OSB, Saint Meinrad's third abbot [1898-1930], revived interest in the oblates. On November 18, 1906, he received permission from the Holy See to allow students of the major and minor seminaries to be received as oblates when they had completed their 14th year of age.
Records of this movement begin with December 8, 1906, with the enrollment of 21 students. Since 1924, men and women outside the monastery and schools at Saint Meinrad have been enrolled as oblates.
Today, nearly 1,000 men and women are oblates of Saint Meinrad. They strive to seek God and the glory of God in all things. Through their witness, they extend the spirit of the Saint Meinrad monastic community into areas where the monastic community cannot reach or be present.
A history of the oblate community was written in 2000 by Edward L. Shaughnessy. The Benedictine Oblates of Saint Meinrad Archabbey: A Brief History 1879-1999 is available from the Saint Meinrad Oblate Office.
In 2012, oblate Ruth Clifford Engs wrote An Updated History of the Benedictine Oblate Community of Saint Meinrad Archabbey: 1995-2012.