Step One: Contact The Vocation Director
If you are actively thinking about religious life or priesthood or if you’re simply curious feel free to contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Mark Blom 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. Mark who will arrange to visit you, or have an Oblate in your area get in touch with you. Fr. Mark is there to help you in your discernment with the aim that the best decision possible will be made both for you and the Oblate community.
Feel free to contact Fr. Mark our vocation director at any time if you would like help with beginning the process of discerning your vocation or have any questions about the whole process:
Fr. Mark Blom, OMI
5 St Vital Ave
St Albert, AB
587 985 3553 cell
780 459 2116 office
Step Two: Apply For The Pre-Novitiate Program
If, after this first step, you feel a growing interest or attraction to the Oblate life you can apply for the Pre-Novitiate program. If your application is accepted you then will begin a 10-month preparation period called the Pre-Novitiate. During this time you will live at our Formation House in Buffalo New York with other Oblate candidates. You will attend classes in Philosophy or Religious studies at D’Youville College near the Pre-Novitiate. During the summer you will return to Canada for employment or serve in a ministry experience in an Oblate mission.
The time at Pre-Novitiate is your first phase of Oblate formation. While you will be attending classes at D’Youville the Pre-Novitiate program aims at fostering the growth and integration of the human qualities and maturity that are the foundation upon which a fruitful apostolic religious life is based.
This period is a time of introduction and opportunity 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, to become a community with other young men like yourself and also to undertake some preliminary studies. Tuition costs are waived for Oblate candidates.
Step Three: Deepening The Commitment To Oblate Life And Spirituality
If, during this time of trying on Oblate life you decide through prayer and discussions with the Pre-Novitiate staff to commit to the next level of life as an Oblate you apply for the Novitiate. The Novitiate year is the heart of the Oblate formation process. The program fosters growth in the spirit and skills of community life, deepening our spiritual practice and our missionary Oblate identity and knowledge of the life and charism of our founder.
Novitiate is a very special time set aside for prayer and personal growth in faith. Together with the guidance of the Director of Novices, formation staff and a Spiritual Director, whose role is to accompany you on your journey towards becoming an Oblate you will discern the Lord’s call.
During this year some feel called to become Oblates – they have a sense of peace and being at home – while others find Oblate 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.
Step Four: Start Studies For Priesthood Or Brotherhood
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 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, catechesis, 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.”
Formation Is Ongoing
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 and 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.
Choosing Religious Life
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 and something better. As our founder Eugene de Mazenod said, “leave nothing undared.”
God bless you!