Saturday, September 10, 2016


Father Abbot Gregory Polan, 66, Abbot of Conception Abbey in Missouri, has been elected the 10th ABBOT PRIMATE, succeeding Abbot Notker Wolf, who has served in the position of Abbot Primate since being elected by the Congress of Abbots in 2000.

Abbot Gregory has been the 9th Abbot of Conception Abbey since 1996. He was professed in 1971 and ordained in 1977. He is a native of Berwyn, Illinois.

Abbot Gregory is the second abbot of Conception Abbey to be elected Abbot Primate. Abbot Marcel Rooney was the 8th Primate having been elected on September 18, 1996 and resigned on 3 September 2000.

Abbot Gregory is the fourth American to be elected to the Office of Abbot Primate. The others were Dom Rembert Weakland (now retired archbishop of Milwaukee), the late Abbot Jerome Theisen, and Abbot Marcel Rooney.

According to the Proper Law which governs the Confederation of Congregations of Monasteries of the Order of Saint Benedict, the ministry of the Primas is described as “the office of the Abbot Primate whose function it is to represent the Confederation and to do all he can to foster co-operation between the confederated monasteries.”

In the decree Inæstimabilis unitatis (1894) Pope Leo XIII gave the office of Abbot Primate to the Benedictines. The Primate has no direct authority over the vast number of Benedictine houses (there are Benedictine monasteries he is responsible for). There are approximately 7000 Benedictine monks. Abbot Polan becomes the abbot of the monastery Sant’ Anselmo. As the Benedictine leader, he is the point of "communio" for the worldwide Benedictine Confederation and he  works as the primary liaison with the Holy See.

Abbot Gregory is recognized as being a pastoral abbot and spiritual leader and is well regarded across various sectors. He is a talented musician, who at age 16 was already serving as assistant organist at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral. He is also a Scripture scholar who teaches Greek and Hebrew at Conception Seminary CollegeThat made him the perfect choice a few years ago when the U.S. bishops decided they wanted a revised translation of the Psalms then in use, one that evoked both the musicality of the prayers and adhered more closely to the words in Hebrew.

Under his leadership a new English translation of the Book of Psalms has been adopted by the US Catholic Bishops and Rome as the translation that’s used in the Liturgy.

As with all monasteries, the monks at Conception chant the entire Psalter of 150 Psalms every two weeks as part of their communal prayer. Abbot Gregory says he never tires of hearing each Psalm. “They are really the nourishment of monks. Despite the fact of their daily use, they never wear thin.”

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