New Abbot installed at Worth

Cardinal, Abbot and Bishop

Cardinal, Abbot and Bishop

More than 750 well-wishers, including a representative of the Papal Nuncio, Mgr Vincent Brady, a Cardinal, Abbots of other monasteries, Bishop John Hind of Chichester and dozens of clergy, flocked to Worth Abbey last Saturday [September 11] to witness Dom Kevin Taggart’s formal installation as the monastery’s fifth abbot.

Bishop Kieran Conry solemnly blessed the new Abbot in front of a capacity congregation in a specially erected marquee because the Abbey church is undergoing a six-month refurbishment.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Bishop Kieran’s predecessor as Catholic bishop of Arundel and Brighton, joined Abbots and representatives of most  Benedictine monasteries in England at the traditional blessing along with parishioners, parents from Worth School and others from the many works in which Worth Abbey is engaged.
Cardinal Cormac, a long-standing friend of the new Abbot, said: "I am delighted to be here for the formal blessing of Abbot Kevin. It is an important occasion for the monastery and for the whole community...The community is a source of prayer for the whole diocese."  

Meanwhile, Bishop Kieran laughed as he said that, unlike with a bishop, the Monastic Community has a say in the appointment of an Abbot and he paid tribute to Abbot Kevin’s predecessor, Dom Christopher Jamison.

Bishop Kieran added: "The demands on an Abbot are strenuous. You have to give a great deal of yourself…It is a big day, a challenging day, an important day, a great moment for the church."

Abbot Kevin, 79, was elected by the 25-strong Worth monastic community on 2 June. In English Benedictine monasteries the Abbot is elected for a term of eight years during which time he leads the Community as father of the monastic family.

During the Blessing, Abbot Kevin made solemn promises to lead the Monastic Community in their lives of prayer and work and to watch over them as their father.

He joked to the packed congregation: "I am a bit bemused at my time of life [to be elected as abbot].’ But he said: ‘It is a great occasion for the monastery’. And he thanked all those who had given their time to be at the Blessing and who give the monastic Community such support
Abbot Kevin has been a monk at Worth for more than fifty years but his connections with Worth go back to his childhood when he was a pupil at Worth School during the war. He became the first Housemaster of the senior school in 1959 and was subsequently Headmaster and Bursar. He also worked in the Abbey’s parish for 18 years.
Worth Abbey is part of the English Benedictine Congregation, which also includes the monks at Downside and Ampleforth. Although this links the communities, each Abbey is autonomous and elects its own leader.

Besides running a 500-strong school for boys and girls aged 11 to 18, Worth Abbey continues to welcome many thousands through its retreat centre programmes, runs a Parish and supports work begun among the poor in Peru in 1967, among other activities.

Worth Abbey became known to millions of television viewers because of the 2005 BBC series, The Monastery, in which five men lived and worked alongside the monks for six weeks. Another BBC programme ‘The Big Silence’ is shortly due to be shown.

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