On 10 September 2016, Abbot Gregory Polan, OSB, of Conception Abbey, Conception, Mo., United States of America, was elected Abbot Primate of the 1500-year-old Benedictine Order at the Congress of Abbots meeting in Rome. The Congress is held every four years.
As abbot primate of the Benedictine Confederation, Abbot Gregory will be the unifying head of the world's 7,000 Benedictine monks and become the abbot of the monastery Sant’Anselmo in Rome, where he will reside. The office of abbot primate was created by Pope Leo XIII in 1886 to serve the Benedictine community as its liaison to the Vatican and civil authorities, to promote unity among the various autonomous Benedictine monasteries and congregations, and to represent the order at religious gatherings around the globe. As primate, Abbot Gregory will also serve as the head of the Benedictine Ateneo located in Rome. He is the tenth abbot primate, the fourth American to be elected, and the second abbot from Conception Abbey following Abbot Marcel Rooney’s election to abbot primate in 1996. Upon assuming this role, Abbot Gregory will resign as abbot of Conception Abbey.
This election is an honor for both Abbot Gregory and Conception Abbey. Abbot Gregory has led Conception Abbey for 20 years as its abbot and served as president-rector of Conception Seminary College for ten years prior. A scholar in Scripture and theology, Abbot Gregory has been prominent in the field of Biblical translation. His recent work has included translations for the New American Bible and a complete translation of the Psalms resulting in the Revised Grail Psalter, which will be used in the liturgy.
“Abbot Gregory brings many years of leadership experience and spiritual wisdom to the role of abbot primate. We are happy that his gifts, which he has given so freely at Conception Abbey for many years, will now be shared with the entire order and Church,” commented Fr. Daniel Petsche, OSB, prior of Conception Abbey upon Abbot Gregory’s election. “I believe his gifts will reach fulfillment in this new role.”
Born 2 January 1950 in Berwyn, Il., to the late Martha and Edward Polan, Abbot Gregory entered the novitiate in 1970. He professed vows as a monk of Conception Abbey on 28 August 1971, and was elected the ninth abbot of Conception Abbey on 6 November 1996. This November would have marked the beginning of his twentieth year as abbot of Conception Abbey.