On September 10, 2016, Abbot Gregory Polan, O.S.B., of Conception Abbey, Conception, Mo., was elected Abbot Primate of the 1500-year-old Benedictine Order at the Congress of Abbots meeting in Rome, Italy held every four years.
As head of the Benedictine Confederation, Abbot Gregory will be the unifying head of the worlds 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 University 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 resigned as abbot of Conception Abbey.
This election is an honor for both Abbot Gregory and Conception Abbey. Abbot Gregory led Conception Abbey for twenty 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.
Born on January 2, 1950 in Berwyn, Illinois to the late Martha and Edward Polan, Abbot Gregory came to Conception in 1970 to enter the novitiate. He professed vows as a monk of Conception Abbey on August 28, 1971, and was elected the ninth abbot of Conception Abbey on November 6, 1996.