Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Aberdeen's New Bishop

On the Feast of the Assumption I was privileged to attend the episcopal ordination of the Bishop of Aberdeen, H.E. Bishop Hugh Gilbert O.S.B. at St Mary's Cathedral in Aberdeen.

Motto: Omnia in Ipso constant
All things hold together in Him (Christ)

His Eminence Keith Patrick Cardinal O'Brien was the principal Consecrator with Archbishop Conti of Glasgow (previously a Bishop of Aberdeen) and Bishop Emeritus Moran of Aberdeen as co-consecrators.

It was wonderful to see all the community of Pluscarden attend this historic occasion and quite rightly participating in the Mass in singing the Introit, Gospel Acclamation and leading the singing of the Litany of the Saints. 

Sitting behind me was one of Scotland's premier composers, James Macmillan, who had composed a very pleasing Motet "Ecce Sacerdos Magnus" especially for the Bishop's ordination.

On a historical note this is the second occasion a superior of Pluscarden Abbey has become the Bishop of Aberdeen; albeit the first time was almost 500 years ago in 1529 when Pope Clement VII appointed the then Prior Learmond coadjutor Bishop with right of succession.

In his address during the reception after Mass the Bishop hinted that changes would be forthcoming but had only one to announce that day.  Fr. Stuart Chalmers (my ex parish priest) was to become the diocese's Vicar General replacing Canon Mann.

I regret I have no photographs of the event as when attending a priestly ordination the previous month in the Cathedral, it was announced that no photography, other than by the official photographer, was permitted. I was a little annoyed to be informed that I could take photographs this time around - of course I had left my camera at home.

As a footnote the Bishop will still be known by his religious name Hugh, rather than his birth name of Edward, as he remains a Benedictine monk and, as he told me a few week's earlier, will retire to Pluscarden.

Please pray for His Excellency Bishop Hugh Gilbert O.S.B.

Monday, 15 August 2011

New Abbot Elected

Following ratification from Abbot Bruno Marin, Abbot President of the Subiaco Congregation, Dom Anselm Atkinson OSB was elected as the new Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey on Tuesday 9th August 2011.

Dom Anselm was duly installed as Abbot by the Right Reverend Francis Baird, Abbot of Prinknash Abbey, acting on Abbot Bruno's behalf.

Abbot Anselm made his first monastic vows at Pluscarden in 1976 at the age of nineteen.  He was ordained priest in 1982 by the Right Reverend Mario Conti, who was then Bishop of Aberdeen.  He was sent to study at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, where he gained a Licenciate in Sacred Scripture.  Since the late 1980s he has been resident at Pluscarden's daughter house in Petersham, Massachusetts, where he was Superior until his election as Abbot of Pluscarden.  In 2003 he was elected Abbot Visitor, which entails monitoring the progress of all the monasteries in our province.

Dom Anselm Atkinson O.S.B.
Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey

Bishop Gilbert O.S.B., newly ordained Bishop of Aberdeen and former Abbot of Pluscarden, will carry out the Blessing of the new Abbot at a later date.  Speaking with Bishop Gilbert recently he intimated that he wished this to be one of his first official engagements as Bishop.

Many thanks to Pluscarden for the use of the photograph and short bibliography of Abbot Anselm.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Abbatial Election

I would ask for your prayers for the community of Pluscarden Abbey this next week in especial.  Solemnly professed monks from the dependant house of Petersham Monastery, and Fathers' Bede and Giles from the joint foundation of Kristo Buase, have now returned to their mother house to join with their brethren for this auspicious occasion. 

The election has been brought about following the Holy Father's wish that Abbot Hugh Gilbert be the next Bishop of the Diocese of Aberdeen.  An Abbatial election is, without doubt, a defining moment in any religious community; much in the same way as is that of a Bishop, or indeed a Pope.  The election will be presided over by the Abbot of Prinknash, the Right Reverend Francis Baird.

Pray that Our Blessed Lady, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Andrew, to whom the Abbey is dedicated, may be with the monks in their deliberations and that they be guided by our Holy Father St Benedict.