Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB - Abbot X
On 22 November 2016, Father Benedict Thomas Neenan, OSB was elected the tenth abbot of Conception Abbey.
Born on 3 January 1949 in Kansas City, Missouri to the late James and Helen Neenan, Abbot Benedict is one of twelve children. He attended Visitation Grade School and St. John's Seminary High School, both in Kansas City, Missouri. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from Colorado State University in 1971 and a Journeyman’s Degree from the Bavarian State School of Wood Carving and Sculpture in Germany in 1976.
Having attending Conception Seminary College as a freshman in 1967-68, Abbot Benedict returned to Conception Abbey to discern a monastic vocation and professed vows as a Benedictine monk on 18 October 1980. He completed theology studies at the Catholic University of America and was ordained a priest on 20 August 1988.
After ordination, Abbot Benedict began teaching theology and Church history and served as a spiritual advisor to seminarians at Conception Seminary College. He also served as Assistant Business Manager and Abbey Vocation Director. From 1990 - 1993 he was Prior of Conception Abbey under the leadership of Abbot James Jones.
In 1993 he returned to the Catholic University of America and completed a Ph.D. in Church History in 1996, after which he was appointed President-Rector of the seminary, a position he would hold until June 2007. During his years as President-Rector, Conception Seminary College saw a dramatic increase in enrollment, inaugurated the Language, Culture & Church Program for international seminarians and continued to develop, with the help of the faculty, a holistic formation program that would meet the needs of both seminarians and the Church they would serve.
Upon completion of his term as President-Rector, Abbot Benedict was appointed Business Manager (2007-2016) and Development Director (2014-2016). In these roles, he oversaw the management of Conception Abbey's finances, physical plant and relationships with its friends. To acquire a necessary background in these areas, he completed the Executive MBA degree at Rockhurst University in Kansas City in May 2013.
In his position as abbot, Abbot Benedict assumes responsibility for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the monastic community. While that entails a variety of activities, what is most important according to St. Benedict is that "anyone who receives the name of abbot is to lead his disciples by a twofold teaching: he must point out to them all that is good and holy more by example than by words," (RB 2.11).