Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey in Missouri has been elected the new Abbot Primate of the worldwide Benedictine order, an office designed to represent the Benedictines at global meetings and to promote the unity of the order’s various abbeys and priories.

Abbots and priors from Benedictine men’s communities around the world elected U.S. Abbot Gregory Polan of Conception Abbey in Missouri to be abbot primate.

The 66-year-old Scripture scholar and translator was elected Sept. 10 in Rome during the Congress of Abbots. His election means the monks of Conception Abbey will have to elect a new abbot to succeed Abbot Polan, who has led Conception Abbey since 1996.
He has done translations for the New American Bible and led the effort to complete a new translations of the Psalms, known as the Revised Grail Psalter, which the U.S. bishops have approved for use in the liturgy.

The abbot primate is not the superior general of the Benedictine order because the monasteries are independent. Instead, the abbot primate is called to represent the monks at international gatherings, promote the unity of the abbeys and priories around the world and serve as a liaison to the Vatican.

As abbot primate, he also becomes the abbot of Saint Anselm in Rome and chancellor of the Benedictine’s Pontifical Atheneum of Saint Anselm and its Pontifical Liturgical Institute.

Polan was born Jan. 2, 1950, in Berwyn, Illinois. He entered the Benedictine novitiate at Conception Abbey in 1970 and professed his vows a year later. He studied at St. John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1977.

He did his doctoral studies in sacred Scripture at Saint Paul University in Ottawa and returned to Conception Abbey to teach courses in Old Testament and music. He was scheduled to begin teaching at St. Anselm in Rome, but the plan changed when he was elected abbot of Conception Abbey.