Wednesday, November 09, 2011

An Irish abbot in Jerusalem.

Dormition Abbey is a German-speaking Benedictine monastery in Jerusalem that I've written about before; visiting this monastery during both of my two stays in Jerusalem had a profound effect on me (halfway between those two visits, Dormition Abbey actually came up in my dreams during the Spiritual Exercises). Thus, it seemed right to report the following news: in July, the monks of Dormition Abbey elected a new abbot, Father Gregory Collins of Glenstal Abbey in Ireland. The above video offers a glimpse of the solemn blessing of the Belfast-born abbot, which took place early last month.

For those who may be interested in learning more about Abbot Gregory, the interview in this second video offers a bit more detail on his background. It will be interesting to see how the new abbot's roots in Northern Ireland inform his approach to the situation in Jerusalem: though he arrives as an outsider, his lifelong experience living in a land divided by political and religious conflict may prove highly instructive. I was surprised, yet somehow edified, by Abbot Gregory's admission that he is not yet fluent in German: one must be both humble and courageous to agree to lead a community in which the common language is a tongue that one speaks imperfectly.

Reading about Abbot Gregory's election inevitably leads me to wonder when I may be able to return to Jerusalem; it also leads me to reflect on the mysterious pull that the Holy City in general and Dormition Abbey in particular have exerted on my heart and mind. My thoughts and prayers today are for the monks of Dormition Abbey and their new leader: may God grant them peace, and may they be a sign of God's peace to others. AMDG.


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