Sunset over Lake Jovita
March 3, 2019 no Oblate Sunday

April 7, 2019 no Oblate Sunday

April 7, 2019 Novice and Final Oblations and Family Picnic
Come to the ceremony to receive oblate novices and for those making their final oblation. After the ceremony is the Family and Friends Spring Picnic with the monks. Everyone is invited. The ceremony time will be announced later.

March 17, 2018 Extended deadline to submit novice oblate applications. Applications .

February 17, 2019, yes tomorrow is the Benedictine Circle. This Benedictine Circle begins at 1:15 pm and ends at 4:15 pm in the retreat library on the third flood of the abbey. The session will be led by Benoit Duhamel and Felicia Morrell. Enjoy their Fabulous Notes on the discussion topics and questions.

We are reading Chapters 44-46 in Michael Casey’s " The Road to Eternal Life: Reflections on the Prologue of Benedict's Rule.

We will also discuss selection of a new book.
Each Benedictine Circle Session stands alone. You can fully participate and feel comfortable about participating even if you have not attended any previous sessions because the handouts include quotes from the book to be discussed. 

If you have lunch, the charge is $12. Just want to attend the class? (free, that's fine too!) All are welcome.

Oblate-Program Volunteers are Everywhere!

Many new works are going on by Oblates, Novices, friends and family:

The Father Damien plaque is up in his Garden Memorial; the Gift Shop was decorated for Christmas; the nativity in the church was set for Advent and the Christmas season for all to worship and enjoy; volunteers stock, staff, clean and merchandise the gift shop monthly, Patricia Grimm, Ellen Mejias; weekly church cleaning and plant care by Marleny, Wayne, and Andrew Henderson and friends and more have helped; the fire pit was put together and placed; Saint Leo history story is being researched and written by Paul Edson and others; scanning of historic photos for Abbey Archives — James Janicki, Ellen Mejias and others have volunteered to continue this work; work on the Icons for the Mary chapel by Virginia Crippen and her artists; staffing the reception office as we can 9:00 am to 11:00 am and 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm by Gerald Dye and others; the retreat library is managed, sorted, cleaned and loved by Annetta Wallace, Pat Grimm, Valerie Hinmani and others every week; Snacks and clean up for Coffee Talk (the third session on Oblate Sundays) and the Benedictine Circle are provided Allison Poff, Gerri Jackson, Pat Grimm, Felicia Morrell, Mike Fonfara, Margaret Joseph, and others; many come weekly, like Eugene O’Neill, and work on maintenance and support the operations of the Abbey; James Quinlan works on the abbey’s electrical system; others stop by Dan Spears’ rolling cart on Oblate Sundays as he provides Drive Thru and Drop Off service for the Saving Grace needs and toiletries of the monks each month as noted on the Oblate page; the final draft of a “Walking Tour of the Abbey” is being completed for print for all who visit. We hope to begin a thank you campaign to visitors, retreat guests and those who fill in the Guest Books in the church, Guest Shop and Gift Shop.

Volunteers help the abbey, but they help their own spiritual life as well. When volunteers join the monks in prayer they enter a Benedictine balance of prayer and work, the ora et labora of Benedictine spirituality. Abbey volunteers don’t just read about monastic time, they live it while at the abbey. It’s good practice for when they return home. The monks enjoy when those in the oblate program add their voices to the liturgy of the hours.

Ed DeBerri, Marleny, Wayne, and Andrew Henderson, Patty Schrader, Felicia Morrell and others daily participate in the monastic offices and daily Mass with the monks. Gene O’Neill whose history at the abbey goes back to the 1950s said his work at the abbey has been one of the best things for his spiritual growth.

Every Sunday Linda Campbell picks up, sorts, and puts away all the worship aids at the end of Sunday Mass. 

Gerri “The Cat Lady” Jackson keeps the abbey cats fed and in good shape. The cats eat every day. If you bring dry or canned cat food you may drop it off inside the welcome center. 

Kay Blunda tested and gave advice on how to organize the OK Audio Oblate Newsletter, the call in number 352-888-7755 for recorded announcements about oblate meetings, reading assignments and events.  
Although the abbey now has a landscape maintenance company oblates like Rita Black and her green thumb enhanced the abbey’s landscape for years as she filled in when there was a need.

Rita Sarmiento provides good advice on oblate projects and helps with retreats and oblate major events. She organized the oblate retreat materials and how they are provided to retreatants. 

Felicia Morrell welcomes visitors to the abbey and the oblate program. Visitors to the divine office hear, “Hi I’m Felicia an oblate of the abbey.”

Charles Woodhouse, Rachel Dobbs, James Janicki, Jackie Hartley, and other write articles for the website and handouts.

Valerie Hinmani has begun working in MS Publisher to create the retreat library shelf signs for book categories.

Ken Conrad provides technical help with liturgical document designs.

More ideas come from all of you every month. 

--Beth and George Davis
--Brother Giovanni

If you are interested in volunteering please reply to this email or call Brother Giovanni 813-228-8015.

Questions and Thoughts on the Rule of St. Benedict Chapter 7: Humility
By Rachel Dobbs


In chapter seven, St. Benedict lays out twelve steps to attain humility and curb pride. This is the most difficult part of the Christian life since it's so easy to fall into pride.

Step One: *The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (Ps 35[ 36]: 2) and never forgets it.

It's disconcerting to think that Our Lord sees everything I do. Everything I say. Everything I think and I cower in fear at the thought. Yet, he reminds the reader that submitting to God means submitting our will so that if we are in God's will, there's no reason to fear.
In this, I have my fears, partly due to my experiences and upbringing. However, St. Benedict makes it clear that God wants everything for our good and benefit.

Meet Rachel Dobbs

Most of you do not know Rachel so here is a bit of her background:

Rachel Dobbs is 41 year old senior Library services associate at the University of North Florida. She's been married for over ten years to her husband Jeremy Dobbs and lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

After a transformative conversion experience that involved study and prayer, Ms. Dobbs was received into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil on April 4, 1999.

Her first experience with Benedictine life and spirituality was a visit to a monastery in 2006. She was drawn to its simplicity and devotion to God in the Divine Office, the Mass, and the segmented day, each hour consecrated to God. For a brief time, she was preparing to enter a lay order but she went back to school, got married, and life got in the way.

Sadly, on January 31st, 2018 she lost her daddy Howard Dennis Askwith to cancer. He had been a third order Carmelite and had the four volume set of the Divine Office. She was once again drawn to the Work of God and took it up again.

She felt drawn to the Benedictine life as an Oblate. Through it, she felt peace, a plan, a way of living and a closeness with God. In order to close out the painful year, she took a small retreat at St. Leo Abbey where she hopes to become an Oblate and thus be affiliated with the community here.

Three Ways to Learn about Oblate Meetings

1. Sign up to receive this oblate newsletter by email, here .

2. Read newsletter on the website, here. This is way to check if you are receiving all the email newsletters.

3. Call 352-888-7755 the OK Audio Oblate Newsletter which has recorded information about oblate meetings, assignments, the step by step process to become an oblate, and Mass times.

Monastic Thought

"Let your prayers be simple, for both the Publican and the Prodigal Son were reconciled to God by a single phrase." St. John Climacus 

“Saint John Climacus who died 649, was also known as John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus, and John Sinaites. He was a monk at St. Catherine's monastery at the base of Mount Sinai. He came to the monastery and became a novice when he was about 16 years old, and when he died in 649 he was the monastery's abbot. 
The Ladder of Divine Ascent. (It is because of this book that John is known as "Climacus," which means "of the ladder".) It describes how to raise one's soul to God, as if on a ladder.” Source .

Blessing of the Throat 
Oblates and all who visit the abbey receive and give a blessing.