Cloistered Oblate

Traditionally, the spaces of a monastery, reserved solely for the use of the brethren of the community have been referred to as the cloister, and a cloistered community means that the members usually stay within in the confines of the buildings and property unless special need requires them to leave the “cloister.”

In older monasteries, a cloister also refers to that interior square formed by a building on all four sides that usually held a well, fountain, and a garden; it was aptly named as its use was strictly for the use of the community.

In some instances, a man may feel the call to the “cloistered” life, or rather, the monastic life, but perhaps is uncertain of such a call. There may also be, in other instances, canonical impediments to making perpetual or life-long profession to a community. An example of such impediments, include advanced age (70+), divorce (with a spouse still living,) owning property that cannot be easily disposed of, or specific medical or emotional needs, etc.

In such cases, in discernment with the Prior, a man may arrive to live alongside the members of the monastery as a cloistered oblate. Exteriorly and interiorly, it is hoped that such a man has no appearance of being different, but he may leave the cloister at anytime to return to his secular life, or the community may discern that he should leave.

There is a long tradition of having cloistered oblates in Benedictine communities and the Monastery of Our Lady of Good Hope continues that ancient tradition.