Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Why I Chose to Become a Benedictine Oblate

by Thomas J. Rillo


When asked why I became a Benedictine oblate, I always have the same answers. First and foremost, I wanted individuals to pray for me who have dedicated their lives to growing closer to God. The second answer is that I wanted to be part of a monastic community in which I could grow spiritually, and this growth would continue for the remainder of my life.

Third, I wanted to share with my wife, also an oblate, a prayer life such as praying the Liturgy of the Hours and the Chaplet of Mercy, and do church ministries together.

I've been an oblate for 16 years and my wife has been one for 17 years. We have both worked in the Oblate Office for Father Meinrad, the oblate director at Saint Meinrad Archabbey. My wife does the computer work for the Benedictine Oblate newsletter that is published quarterly. I write various articles and book reviews for the newsletter. In addition to being at the monastery four times a year, we also participate in retreats and other conferences.

I realized that being a university professor and maintaining that status actually worked in opposition to an enlivened and deeply developed spirituality. Such things as self-ego, excessive competitiveness, aggressive behavior, lack of humility (a perceived sign of weakness), lack of silence and listening, and pride - all required for tenure - work against an enlivened spirituality.

At least this is how I perceived it. Benedictine oblation was the vehicle to combat these undesirable traits and to develop a Benedictine spirituality and prayer life.

Association with the monks of Saint Meinrad Archabbey and having them as friends has made me a better Christian. Knowing individuals who have dedicated their lives to Christian service and finding God has been a definite asset to my spiritual development. My wife often says the Cursillo movement is my passion and Benedictine oblation is my love. I sincerely endorse that and accept it as my spiritual posture.

Working for Father Meinrad has required extensive reading that has added considerably to my spiritual knowledge treasure chest and I have the opportunity to never stop learning. All of this has made me a more contributive parishioner of my local Church and more involved in its activities.

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.