New Oblate Leadership Team
In her July newsletter column, Sister Mary Lou announced she is “passing the torch to the Oblates to fulfill leadership roles for our Oblate community”. Appropriately, she chose the headline “Something New is Happening”. And indeed, it is! As we thank S. Mary Lou for her eleven stellar years as Oblate Director, we also accept the passing of this torch to a new Oblate leadership team to begin anew at serving the needs of our Oblate community. For the first time in the history of the monastery, the Oblate Director(s) will be Oblates and not a Sister. It seems somehow appropriate that this significant shift is occurring in this 75th anniversary year. Truly, “Something New is Happening”.
As we discerned this next stage of Oblate leadership, we looked to examples from other Benedictine monastic communities that were in similar places in their evolution from Sister to Oblate leadership. Based on those examples, another significant shift is that we will now have a three-person leadership team, rather than one Oblate Director, with each co-director taking on the roles and responsibilities that best fit each person’s gifts and calling.
The three new co-directors are Oblates Jeff Dols, Kami Pohl, and Ann Siverling (see below for a brief introduction of each). Together, Jeff, Kami and Ann will handle the general organizational leadership duties, while each will take the lead on specific responsibilities in serving the Oblate community.
Ann will take the lead in cultivating relationships and serving the pastoral needs of the Oblates. In the future, Ann will also work with the Benedictine Center to coordinate Ongoing Oblate Formation programs. Kami will continue to lead the Oblate Initial Formation program. Jeff will continue to be responsible for Oblate communications, record keeping and other administrative functions. As such, Jeff (email@example.com) will be the contact person for general questions or requests, while Kami (firstname.lastname@example.org) will remain the contact for inquires related to Initial Formation.
As you might imagine Jeff, Kami, and Ann are energized to begin their new roles, while recognizin
g they are standing on the shoulders of S. Mary Lou and all the previous Oblate directors at St. Paul’s Monastery who have guided and nurtured us so well over so many years!
While I have only been an Oblate since 2019, I have been pleased to have been associated with the monastery for several years before that, serving in several volunteer roles, including advisory committees for the Benedictine Center, Monastic Leadership, and the Oblates. But my Benedictine journey goes back much further, beginning with my elementary school education from the Sisters of St. Benedict’s Monastery in St. Joseph, MN. This journey continues today in my family, with my wife of 40 years, Maria, and my daughters, Rachel and Angela—all graduates of the College of St. Benedict. From these connections, I continue to be drawn to the core Benedictine charism—to seek communion with God through the practice of contemplative prayer and shared community—to be and see the radiant presence of Christ in everything and everyone. I am blessed to be here!
I made my Final Oblation in 2021 and have been assisting S. Mary Lou with Initial Oblate Formation for the past two years. This time of being closely mentored by S. Mary Lou has been a blessing. I have been associated with the monastery for the past ten years. My Benedictine journey began with the School of Lectio Divina at the monastery in 2013, continued with S. Carol Rennie as my advisor during my Spiritual Direction training, a member of the Benedictine Center Spiritual Direction team since 2017, and serving on the Benedictine Advisory Committee for the past few years. My past work includes teaching and adult faith formation in a church, so it is my honor to continue that great love of accompanying people as they go deeper in their faith here at St. Paul’s Monastery. The values of Benedictine Spirituality, studying the Rule of Benedict and practicing Contemplative Prayer practices in community with other Oblates has deepened my faith and helps me notice God everywhere. I consider it a grace to be on this journey with each of you.
I did my final oblation on Pentecost Eve in June of 2014. Since then, my life has been blessed by continuing relationships with Sisters and Oblates alike. My very first introduction to St. Paul’s Monastery was so long ago that I don’t remember the date, but it was still in the old monastery, and it was when I attended a workshop on Centering Prayer led by Thomas Keating. Around 2010, as an exhausted pastor, I began looking for a place, a community, for me to develop and experience my own personal spirituality. About this time, I was introduced to Benedictine Spirituality when I went on retreat at the Benedictine Sisters of Saint Mary Monastery in Rock Island, IA, and then another retreat at St. Scholastica in Duluth, MN. The very first time I walked into the new St. Paul’s Monastery; I was welcomed with such heartfelt hospitality that I felt that I had come home. And the rest is history! My own spirituality has been deepened, but I have also been blessed by being, in small part, part of the Benedictine Community at St. Paul’s Monastery. I treasure the Benedictine Rule, the Benedictine Values, and the Benedictine way of life. I strive to let my life glorify Christ. I am thrilled to join Jeff and Kami to assist with the leadership of the Oblates, and humbly and prayerfully, and resting on the promises of God, I look forward to seeing Christ in all of you and serving all the oblates.