After being elected Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation on Saturday, September 10th, Abbot Gregory was set to return home to Conception Abbey last night. However, his flight out of Rome was delayed, so the original plan of welcoming him at 8:30 PM was pushed back to just before 11:00 PM Saturday evening. The Prior, Fr. Daniel, picked Abbot Gregory up from the airport.
Several of the monks and I stayed up well past our bedtime because we wanted to greet and welcome the man who had served our community so faithfully for 20 years as abbot. We know that his few returning days among us are limited until he is set to go back to Rome by October 1st to begin his eight-year term as Abbot Primate. While there is great joy in receiving the new Abbot Primate, there is also sadness in knowing that he is no longer Abbot of Conception Abbey.
A good and warm welcome calls for signs and decorations…
Above: Br. Luke worked on a nice balloon display, Br. Placid made Abbot Gregory popcorn, and many monks left cards expressing their appreciation and gratitude. Also, I designed a sign featuring the churches from Conception and San Anselmo in Rome, which was placed on the door to his office and the parking spot upon their return was clearly marked for the Abbot Primate.
The car pulled in just before 11:00 PM. Abbot Gregory, still looking sharp after overseas travels, flanked by Br. Anselm (sporting the painter’s pants) and Fr. Albert (going old school with the Companion Camp T-shirt, circa 2003).
Below: Abbot Gregory, worn out from traveling and what must have been two long and difficult weeks at the Abbot’s Congress is able to smile for the camera as he begins his transition and starts a new chapter in his life.
Monastic life forms strong bonds of fraternity founded in faith. While it is very joyful to have Abbot Gregory back for these 7-10 days, we realize that he will be departing to serve the Church miles away from Northwest Missouri. Our prayers are with him!