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Oblate Engagements in the Society of Saint Pius X

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This presentation is based on the one found on the Fraternity website.

The Founder

Founded by His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the family of SSPX oblate sisters was formed in 1973.

Obliged in conscience to leave her religious family, which had become unfaithful, a first French sister and a nursing sister, Sister Marie Bernard, came knocking at the door of Écône.

Others were quick to do the same, and so the SSPX oblate sisters were born.

Originally, the oblate sisters were religious sisters who had been canonically released from their obligations to their own congregation and wanted to save their vocation from the post-conciliar debacle.

They were soon joined by mature individuals who were free from their duties of state and eager to sanctify themselves as affiliates with the Society while devoting themselves to its works. At present, the persistent crisis of the Church being a source of new needs, recruitment tends to be modified, and a more flexible structure allows other vocations to find a good soil that will encourage their development.

Hierarchical Links

The oblate sisters do not have their own hierarchy, unlike most women’s congregations.

Full members of the Society, like the priests and brothers, the oblate sisters do not have an elected Superior General but depend on the SSPX’s Superior General.

In the priories, the sisters report directly to the prior.

Religious or Oblate?

According to the definition within the Statutes – written by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1982 – the oblate sisters form “a society of common life without vows, but with an engagement like the society of priests of the Society of Saint Pius X.”

Church history shows a certain evolution, from the general and traditional concept of monasticism (with the stability and solemn vows) to the most recent forms of “states of perfection.”

Indeed, throughout the centuries, without abandoning anything of monastic tradition, which retains its privileged place, new families have been created according to increasingly flexible formulas.

So, alongside the “complete canonical state of perfection” – the perfect model of the state of perfection – to which orders with solemn vows and congregations with simple vows belong, the Code of Canon Law defines societies of common life without vows as a “second canonical state of perfection.”

Thus, according to the law of the Church, although these societies are not proper religious institutions and their members are not religious, the Code recognizes that they are similar.

This is how Archbishop Lefebvre wanted the SSPX’s oblate sisters to be.

“Oblate”

The term “oblate,” according to the Latin etymology, “oblata“from the verb”offerre,” means offered and expresses the whole vocation of an oblate.

Indeed, more than a simple designation among the many religious families, this title of oblate is an appeal to give oneself totally.

This is what every novice must understand when, on the day of her oblation, kneeling before the open tabernacle, united with Our Lady of Compassion, she offers herself to God as a victim with the Divine Victim.

One of the Four Society Families

Responding in his Letter to Friends and Benefactors no. 5 of 1973 to a question that had been asked him: “Is the Society made up of several families?”, Archbishop Lefebvre answered:

“It is made of up the priests and future priests, then of the auxiliary brothers, the oblate sisters, and soon, we hope, the religious sisters of the Society…. Finally, with God’s help we intend to have laymen living in the world profits from the spiritual benefits of the Society.”

In 1980, with the birth of the Third Order of Saint Pius X, Archbishop Lefebvre saw the realization of his work as he had conceived it with the four families of the Society.

Apostles

The Statutes stipulate no other goal than dedication to the works of the Society, each according to her talents. The apostolate of the oblates can be as varied as these works themselves.

At the end of her novitiate, the new oblate may be sent either to a priory, or to a school, or to a seminary.

There, within the framework of different sorts of life, in a very humble and sometimes hidden way, she will be able to carry out the most varied tasks, depending on her abilities: household chores, sewing, office and secretarial work, catechism, primary and secondary school teaching, nursing care… Wherever she may be assigned.

The oblate sisters can be called to exercise their apostolate in any place where the Society is established.

In the novitiates

There are currently two novitiates for future oblates:

Sainte-Therese Novitiate – 1922 Salvan (Switzerland)

Our Lady of Sorrows Novitiate – Davao City (Philippines)

At the Sainte-Thérèse de Salvan novitiate, on the occasion of the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, an American postulant received the habit of novices to begin the canonical novitiate which lasts one year. Two oblate sisters renewed their engagement, an Argentinian and a Mexican, respectively for three years and for one year.

At Our Lady of Sorrows novitiate in Davao, two postulants entered on September 13, one Japanese and one Filipina. September 15 saw the taking of the habit of a Filipina for the canonical novitiate, two first oblations which mark the end of the novitiate for two other Filipinas, as well as six renewals for one year: five Filipinas and one Chinese.

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