What is an Oblate?

An oblate in Christian monasticism (especially Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican) is a person who is specifically dedicated to God or to God’s service.

Oblates are individuals, either laypersons or clergy, normally living in general society, who, while not professed monks or nuns, have individually affiliated themselves with a monastic community or holy Order of their choice. They make a formal, private promise (annually renewable or for life, depending on the monastery or Order with which they are affiliated) to follow the Rule of the Order in their private life as closely as their individual circumstances and prior commitments permit. Such oblates do not constitute a separate religious order as such, but are considered an extended part of the Order or monastic community with which they are affiliated

Joining a “Monastery Without Walls”

Oblates are everyday people with jobs, families and many other responsibilities. Sometimes they are Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican or of another denomination. But, given today’s hectic, challenging and changing world, being an oblate offers a rich, spiritual connection to the stability and wisdom of a monastery or order based upon a Rule of life and living.

As the Holy Order of St. Luke is a newly founded and as yet without established monasteries, our Oblates follow the Rule of St. Luke in their ordinary lives. In turn, they support and are supported by their Order brothers and sister, with a share in the prayers and good works of the brethren.

Learn more about becoming an Oblate of the Holy Order of St. Luke the Healer, if this resonates with you. If you feel you are perhaps being called to this way of life, contact us to explore it further. Write to the Order for more details about the Oblates of St. Luke the Healer including application materials or by emailing a request to


Origins and history

In the eleventh century, Abbot William of Hirschau (or Hirsau), in the old Diocese of Spires, introduced lay brethren into the monastery. They were of two kinds: the fratres barbati or conversi, who took vows but were not “claustral” or enclosed monks, and the oblati, workmen or servants who voluntarily subjected themselves, whilst in the service of the monastery, to religious obedience and observance.

Afterwards, the different status of the lay brother in the several orders of monks, and the ever-varying regulations concerning him introduced by the many reforms, destroyed the distinction between the conversus and the oblatus.

Canonically, the only distinction was between those who entered religion “per modum professionis” and “per modum simplicis conversionis” the former being monachi (monks) and the later oblati (oblates)


Oblates today

Secular Oblates. These are either clergy or laypeople affiliated in prayer with an individual monastery of their choice, who have made a formal private promise (annually renewable or for life) to follow the Rule of the Order in their private life at home and at work as closely as their individual circumstances and prior commitments permit.

As the oblate is in an individual relationship with the monastic community and does not form a distinct unit with the Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican Church as a whole, there are no regulations in the modern canon law of the Church regarding them. One consequence is that non-Catholics can be received as oblates of a Catholic monastery and vice-versa.

Conventual Oblates. To be distinguished slightly from other secular oblates, there is a small number of conventual or claustral oblates, who reside in a monastic community. If the person has not done so previously, after a year’s probation they make a simple commitment of their lives to the monastery, which is received by the superior in the presence of the whole community. More on the level of committed volunteers, they would share in the life of the community and undertake, without remuneration, any work or service required of them. They are not, however, considered monks or nuns themselves. A conventual oblate may cancel this commitment at any time; and it is canceled automatically if the superior sends the oblate away for good reason, after simple consultation with the chapter.