Benedictine Oblate Chapter Starts in the Diocese

By Mother Laura Howell
Rector, Trinity Bethlehem

On Sunday, April 17, at 1:30, twelve years after I became an Oblate of St. Benedict, Trinity Bethlehem (44 E. Market St.) will host the organizational meeting of the Diocese of Bethlehem’s new Benedictine Oblate Chapter. Bishop Sean has blessed our new undertaking.

An oblate is a lay monastic who offers his or her life to God. To quote St. Paul in Romans 12: oblates “present <their> bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.” Oblates promise to live a Benedictine life in the world, while maintaining a spiritual connection to a monastery. We are male/female, young/old, married/single, of all races and ethnic groups, Roman Catholic, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, other denominations, and from countries all around the world. We make promises of obedience, stability and conversion of life, to be lived while continuing in the station of life God has called us to. For me, that’s being a priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bethlehem, PA. Each oblate has a different path. But we all promise obedience to the will of God; stability in continuing in the Way God has called us to; and continuous and daily conversion of life, trying always to become more the person God wants us to be. You can also see these promises as distilled and focused versions of some of our baptismal promises.

Part of the promise of stability is that each Benedictine monk or nun plans to spend the rest of their lives in a single monastic community. Oblates are not monks or nuns, and therefore, most don’t live in monastic communities, although we are part of the international Benedictine family. However, we all do have an affiliation with a monastery. Oblates live out their promises of stability by being part of their home monasteries at the spiritual level, rather than at the residential level.

My home monastery is Sacred Heart Monastery in Yankton, South Dakota, and I have received the great honor of starting a new chapter here in Pennsylvania. You can visit their website by going to They operate both a hospital and a college, and pioneered the first Online Oblate Chapter, so it should be no surprise that we feel an affinity. We are also members of the North American Association of Benedictine Oblate Directors (

You are all welcome to attend our first meeting to find out more about the course of study and faith formation that is involved in becoming an oblate. Or have a chat with me. Or send me a note at [email protected]. Read more about Benedictine oblates at .

Benedictine blessings to all,

Mo. Laura Thomas, Obl.S.B.

Diocesan Life for February 2012

Well, we have a new printer and with a new printer means a little bit of change. As you might remember, we are no longer a diocesan wrap around Episcopal Journal but are our own publication. We are in the process of getting a non-profit mailing permit so bear with us as these first few months might be a bit rocky while we get used to new procedures and new printing requirements. The look is essentially the same but you will notice that the mailing label has moved and we are not reporting national level news. Starting with March's issue, Bill Lewellis will be adding some highlights for you to explore much like he does currently on our newSpin eNewsletter. We welcome any comments, problems, or issues as well as we transition to a new way of doing things while still providing a print resource. If you do have questions, please email me: [email protected]


Download the .pdf version here: Download BDL1202-completeCORRECTED_SMALL

20 + 1 + 1 = Renewal

[From Mother Laura Howell, Trinity Bethlehem]

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, we will challenge ourselves to pray for 20 minutes each day, to spend one hour a week in worship, and to serve others for one day each month.

Prayer can take whatever form you prefer.  What is important is not HOW you pray, but THAT you pray.  While we hope that you will worship at your home parish, if you are traveling, experiment by visiting another faith community.   Service can be done one whole day a month, or a few hours at a time.  There are always people and organizations who need our assistance--we only have to let ourselves be aware of them.

Anyone, young or old, can participate.  As a way to get started, during the season of Lent, we will post one way to pray or to worship or to serve each day.  Let us know how you are practicing 20 + 1 + 1.

Find the 20 + 1 + 1 blog here.

Diocesan Training Day on April 2nd

Registration opens today and closes March 23rd. Cost is $17.50 and includes lunch.

A day set aside for learning about opportunities and resources for ministry in congregations, and celebrating ministries we share. There will be 13 different workshops spanning all aspects of ministry to select from this year. Please plan to join us for a wonderful day of learning.

Workshops include:
All Day Workshops (one workshop in both sessions)

#1 Ministry of the Lay Eucharistic Visitor (all day workshop) - The Rev. Edward Erb -- Two-part course leads to licensing. Morning session - Biblical, theological, and historical background. Afternoon session - resources and practical considerations (ex. HIPAA rules, safety, and health concerns)

#2 Understanding and Working with ChurchPost (all day workshop) - Mr. John Goodell, Owner of ChurchPost -- A hands-on guide to using ChurchPost, our electronic newsletter platform, to communicate effectively and immediately with your members and visitors.

Session I - 9:45am to 11:15am

#3 Wardens/Vestry 101 - The Rt. Rev. Paul Marshall and The Ven. Howard Stringfellow - Introduction for new wardens and vestry members or a refresher for experienced vestry members to the roles, responsibilities, and realities of parish leadership.

#4 Bringing Financial Sanity to the Family - Mr. Dan Charney - The program, Financial Sanity, designed by Nathan Dungan, founder and president of Share Save Spend, consists of four one-hour sessions.  This training helps you to become familiar with the program, and will cover session one of the program to give participants a feel for what it is all about.

#5 Transitional Formation in Parishes - Ms. Kim Rowles - In periods of individual transition it is especially important to support and lead members in our communities to an intentional life with Christ, this session will help outline a plan for individual parishes dealing with middle to high school transition, high school to college transition, and couples to family transition.

#6 - Come Let Us Worship - A Workshop for the Laity and Clergy - The Rev. Laura Howell & The Rev. John Francis - This session will explore some of the tools the Book of Common Prayer gives us for daily worship.  It will provide some practical suggestions for parish prayer that may be led by the laity as well as the clergy.

#7 - Evangelism as Prayer and Faith Sharing - The Rev. Jane Bender, The Rev. Doug Moyer,  and Mrs. Carol Keane - The Unbinding the Gospel series doesn't give answers as to how, when and where.  Come learn how many ways this lively resource can be tailored for your use.

Session II -- 1:15pm to 2:45pm

#8 Enabling Ministries: Forward Life Planning - Mr. Charlie Barebo - Develop your parish's capabilities to deliver ministries by strengthening its approach to Forward Life Planning.

#9 Treasurers’ Workshop - Mr. Bruce Reiner -- This workshop will focus on cash receipts, cash disbursements, internal controls, and audits.

#10 - The Confirmation Conundrum - The Rev. Canon Anne Kitch - Explores the rite of Confirmation and the many questions it raises.  Includes an overview of the history of Confirmation in the Episcopal Church and the theology of Confirmation as it is express in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

#11 - Health Ministries - Mrs. Diana Marshall - Health ministry plays a unique and critical role in facilitating the health of clergy, staff and congregations.  Health ministry looks different from congregation to congregation, reflecting the unique needs, interests, and resources of the faith community.

#12 - Incorporating New members into the Episcopal Church - The Rev. Canon Andrew Gerns- The course will introduce a simple, easy-to-understand, process of incorporating new members into a congregation. It will also describe various kinds of visitors and newcomers and show how to integrate the worship and theology of the Episcopal Church into our evangelism.

#13 - Training for Regional Discernment Teams - Members of the Commission on Ministry - This training session is designed to help both clergy and laity understand the purpose and structure of regional discernment as practiced in the Diocese of Bethlehem.

You can click here to register. Download the Diocesan Training Day brochure on our web site here.

Video will keynote Renewal Assembly February 19

“Can you share how you experience God’s presence in your life, particularly in the moments of prayer?” asks Bishop Paul in the keynote video prepared for the Renewal Assembly, February 19.

The video has been prepared specially for “The Call to Prayer and Discernment” which will take place in six sites across the diocese from 9 AM – 1 PM on Saturday, February 19. Registration is now available on  “A copy of the video will be made available on DVD to every congregation in the Diocese,” reports Charles Cesaretti, chair of the Diocesan Renewal Committee, which is sponsoring the event.

Uvs110116-002 Bishop Paul interacts with Mother Laura Howell and Father John Francis about personal and corporate prayer in the keynote video for the February 19 Renewal Assembly.



Jeffrey Kemmerer of Grace Allentown, an engineer by profession and a gifted videographer and video editor by avocation, created the video.  “Kemmerer has contributed his services to producing and editing the video featuring Bishop Paul, Father John Francis of Christ Church Reading and Mother Laura Howell of Trinity Bethlehem,” reported Bill Lewellis in the newSpin newsletter. “Editing video is a bit like the movie Groundhog Day," Kemmerer shared as he prepared the finished product. "You start with a normal day, full of stops, starts, stutters and other imperfections, and you live the day over and over again, improving it with each iteration." Jeff deserves the gratitude of our diocesan community.

The Assembly will begin with the video and will be followed by small group reflection and discussion -- similar to the process at Diocesan Convention.  After the video and group discussion, a Bible Study will be introduced by members of the Diocesan Commission on Lifelong Faith Formation. “We will introduce the meditation on Holy Scripture called Lectio Divina. This approach to the Scripture is not only a reading but it is praying with the text,” opines Mother Hillary Dowling Raining, of Trinity Bethlehem and the Commission. 

The six sites for the Assembly will be:  Christ Church, Towanda; Trinity Church, Carbondale; Trinity Church, West Pittston; Trinity Church, Pottsville; St. Anne’s, Trexlertown; and, the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Lunch will be provided.

Registration closes on Feb. 9. Registrants will be assigned to the most appropriate site. Registration is found on, clicking on “Register for Diocesan events” on the right column of the homepage.

Renewal Assembly Poster

Trinity Revels feature Cambiata

[From Mo. Laura Howell]

Trinity Bethlehem’s Annual Yuletide Revels will be held on Saturday,
December 4, beginning at 5:00 pm. Trinity  co-sponsors this evening of
traditional and early music with Moravian College's Undergraduate
Conference on Medieval and Early Modern Studies.

This yeCAMBIATA_Photoar, the featured performers will be Cambiata, with a program of
Yuletide music and antics. The group uses a variety of colorful period
instruments to bring the Renaissance to life through music. They have
been introducing audiences of all ages to sights and sounds from
Renaissance Europe's royal courts to its rural hamlets.

RevelsProcessionSMALL RevelsReceptionSMALL Festivities continue in the parish hall after the concert, with a
Boar's Head in Procession, flaming Christmas pudding, wassail, nog,
ginger cake, and other traditional Yuletide treats.

The Morning Call has an article on the Conference and Concert at,0,4573850.story.

Suggested donation is $12.00.

For more information contact Laura Howell [email protected],
610-867-4741 X304.

Location: Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 E. Market St., Bethlehem, PA 18018 

Diocesan Life for December 2010 and January 2011

Attached is the latest Diocesan Life for December, 2010 and January 2011. Remember, we love to get stories and pictures! If you have something you want featured, please contact Kat Lehman to discuss publication. Diocesan Life deadlines are posted on the calendar as well so you know when to get the stories in. For February's issue, we need the stories by January 4th. The attached file is 3 MB in .pdf format.

Download December2010_DiocesanLife_SMALL

Solemn Profession of Sr. Patricia Michael Hauze

St. Michael/Sr. Patty
Sermon by Mother Laura Howell
September 28, 2010
The Eve of the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels
Solemn Profession of Sr. Patricia Michael Hauze

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sister Patricia Michael, was it only yesterday that you and I sat together upstairs in the Library and you told me you were afraid that God might be calling you to the monastic life? As I recall, the words “I am afraid” were an important part of your fearful declaration. And you have often been afraid, haven’t you? Afraid you were not educated enough. Doubted that you were up to the task of being a monastic. Afraid you were too weak. Dejected because you were not worthy. But you are here today. WE are here today, too, on your behalf.

Continue reading "Solemn Profession of Sr. Patricia Michael Hauze" »