Dear Oblates, I would like to present the talks of the First World Congress of Lay Benedictine Oblates. I am so happy that this Congress has become a reality. I am sure that you will be able to learn much, and that you will go home to your countries and the monasteries to which you are attached by your oblation, enriched by your participation. During my visits to monasteries all over the world, I have come to realise how many Oblates there are in the world, and how their number is fortunately rising constantly. I regret, however, that Oblates do not realise that they are not only members of a particular monastery, but also part of a whole movement, a movement which, in the spirit of Benedict and in union with a monastic Community, shapes daily life. Thus did the idea come about to gather together Oblates from all over the world for an encounter which would allow them to meet one another, and to discover how this ideal is put into practice in other countries and cultures, and help Oblates to realise that they are not just a group, even a numerous group, but rather that they belong to this great movement. Apart from the exchange of experiences, our aim during the course of the various presentations has been that of offering you some thoughts and ideas to take home, so that not only will the impressions you have received continue to have an influence on you, but also to allow the many Oblates who were unable to be present to take part. The visit to the various sites of Benedictine significance will certainly be a precious memory for you and will bring you even closer to St Benedict. Our present Holy Fr, by choosing St Benedict as his patron, has given us a sign. With his Rule, at the time of the barbarian invasions and of the fall of the Roman Empire, St Benedict gave the West a basis for the cultural development of a whole continent, and with the Christian message as a foundation, he imparted a human aspect to Europe which lives on even in its secularised form. The heart of the matter is indeed to anchor our society once more on Christ, and to put on to this foundation not only Europe but the whole world, so that we may all grow together like one big family, in peace and mutual respect. In this context you too will be part of the mission of the Church. The treasures of the Rule of St Benedict must not remain hidden behind the walls of a monastery. They must be brought out all over the world for the good of humanity, and for the greater glory of God. I wish you much courage in your lives, as well as the peace and joy that come only from God. Convey my greetings and best wishes to the Oblates in your countries. Pass on to all of them this Blessing: let us remain united in prayer and enthusiastic in fervour! Notker Wolf OSB Abbot Primate