Ready to serve: Mount Angel Abbey selects Rev. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, as abbot

April 2016 Posted in People
Abbot Jeremy Driscoll

Abbot Jeremy Driscoll

By Kristine Thomas

It’s with great joy and much prayer that Rev. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, begins his journey as the new abbot of Mount Angel Abbey.

“Right now, it’s overwhelming,” Driscoll said about a week after being elected. “It’s too new for me to know how to feel. There is a joy in people whoever the new abbot is, and in people I see their faith.”

On March 12, the monks of Mount Angel Abbey elected Driscoll as abbot. He is the twelfth abbot to lead the Benedictine community, founded at Mount Angel in 1882.

He succeeds Abbot Gregory Duerr, whose resignation was effective Feb. 10. Mount Angel Abbey is dedicated to a life of prayer, work, pastoral ministry, hospitality and education. The monks welcome visitors to come and join them in prayer and enjoy the peace and beauty of their monastic home.

Abbot President Vincent Bataille of Marmion Abbey in Aurora, Ill., presided over the closed-door election and, in the tradition of Mount Angel, bestowed upon Abbot Jeremy the pectoral cross of Engelberg Abbey, the primary symbol of his new office. At the conclusion of the election process, the Abbey bells rang for five minutes, signifying an abbot was chosen and inviting everyone to the Abbey church to give thanks.

Abbot Jeremy and the Abbot President entered the church together at the end of the procession of monks. During the service, in keeping with monastic custom, each monk approached Abbot Jeremy to make his obedience and to receive the kiss of peace.

The word “abbot” means father, Driscoll said.

“My role is to be the spiritual guide to the community,” he said. “St. Benedict said the abbot holds the place of Christ in the community. The abbot is not Christ, but serves as a means of encountering Christ.”

When he was in elementary school, he traveled with his family from Moscow, Idaho to the Mount Angel Abbey. He recalled how impressed he was by what he saw and left knowing he wanted to return to study to become a monk. Born on Oct. 24, 1951, Driscoll made his final profession as a monk on Sept. 8, 1974, and was ordained a priest in 1981.

“This place is blessed by God,” Driscoll said. “His hand is on the mountain. For 130 years, prayers have been said here every day. I think the mountain absorbs the prayers and has its own spirit.”

Driscoll said it wasn’t until the vote was nearing that he began to realize he might be elected as abbot. He decided for his motto the third chapter of Colossians: “Seek the things that are above.” “This means to seek heavenly things and not getting tied up in earthly things,” he said.

He plans to continue to teach classes including Introduction to Theology, Introduction to Preaching and Sacraments of Christianity and Initiation. He serves on various Vatican commissions, has published broadly, and conducts conferences and retreats.

He enjoys reading and walking, laughing he’s not much into sports. The center of his life is prayer, said six times a day.

“The praise of God is our work,” he said. “We are here to do the work of God.”

The spirit and energy of the prayers is what draws people to the mountain to seek God’s blessing, he said.

“I am really here for Christ to use as his instrument,” he said, adding his own spiritual work and guide is to stay close to Christ and “let him work through me.”

The journey he begins as abbot is “frightening and it’s beautiful,” he said.

“My way of being a Catholic is being a monk,” he said. “It’s about praising God through daily prayer and the hospitality we extend to all who visit here.”

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