COULD THE VATICAN TAKE US ALL BY SURPRISE AND APPOINT A HOLY, UNWORLDLY AND DEEPLY SPIRITUAL MONK TO SUCCEED DIARMUID MARTIN?
Irish Times 2009
Dom Richard Purcell becomes abbot of Mount St Joseph Abbey at just 33
IRELAND’S YOUNGEST abbot, Dom Richard Purcell (33), received the abbatial blessing from Bishop of Killaloe Most Rev Willie Walsh…
Mon, Jul 13, 2009,
IRELAND’S YOUNGEST abbot, Dom Richard Purcell (33), received the abbatial blessing from Bishop of Killaloe Most Rev Willie Walsh during Mass at the Mount St Joseph Abbey Cistercian monastery near Roscrea, Co Tipperary, at the weekend.
Fr Purcell, originally from Rathgar in Dublin, was elected on June 16th by the community at Mount St Joseph and the abbots of daughter houses in Scotland, Australia and Kildare to succeed Dom Kevin Daly, who had been abbot there since 2003.
As the constitution of the Cistercian congregation states that a monk must be 35 to be eligible for such an office, and as Fr Richard was technically ineligible for election on grounds of both age and years of profession, it was necessary for him to secure a two-thirds majority for his election.
It is a requirement of Canon Law that a monk be professed for seven years before he can be elected abbot. Fr Richard was short of the required years by three months. After his election in June, proceedings were suspended while necessary dispensations were sought from Rome. On June 17th, Cardinal Rode, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, issued a dispensation concerning Fr Purcell’s shortfall in years of profession.
He did so to Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, Cistercian abbot general in Rome, who then dispensed with the minimum age requirement and confirmed Dom Richard as the eighth Abbot of Mount St Joseph Abbey. He will hold office for six years. The new abbot entered Mount St Joseph Abbey in 1997, having completed a degree in music and French at UCD.
In 2002, he read theology at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford, and, on return to Mount St Joseph in 2004, he was appointed abbey bursar. In 2005, he was ordained a priest and, in 2007, he was appointed prior at the monastery while continuing as bursar.
There are 22 monks at Mount St Joseph, two of them in formation.
The monastery was founded in 1878 by monks from Mount Melleray in Co Waterford. In 1905, they established the Cistercian College, a Catholic boarding school for boys, in the Abbey grounds.
Past pupils include Taoiseach Brian Cowen, former Labour Party leader Dick Spring, former minister for foreign affairs David Andrews, and former editor of The Irish Times Conor Brady.
NEW ABBOT OF MOUNT MELLARY 2017
Sat, November 04, 2017
As Dom Richard, our new abbot, was previously abbot of Mount St Joseph Abbey, Roscrea he had already received the Abbatial Blessing in 2009 so on Saturday 4 November Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, celebrated the ‘Mass to Invoke God’s Blessing on the New Abbot and his Abbatial Ministry’ at Mount Melleray Abbey.
Bishop Cullinan was joined by Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel and Emly, Bishop Fintan Monahan of Killaloe, Bishop William Lee, emeritus bishop of Waterford and Lismore and Bishop William Walsh, emeritus bishop of Killaloe.
The Mount Melleray Community was also delighted to welcome monks and nuns from the Cistercian and Benedictine monasteries of Ireland, Britain and Norway, and in particular the new Father Immediate of Mount Melleray, Dom André Barbeau, Abbot of Val Notre Dame in Canada. Also present were representatives of the religious orders and congregations of the Diocese of Waterford and Lismore, representatives from the Church of Ireland, civic and state representatives, Dom Richard’s family and friends, and the staff, friends and associates of the monastery.
It was a memorable occasion for the community and all those associated with Mount Melleray Abbey. The photos taken by Oisin McHugh and Tom Keith capture the atmosphere of the day.
Yesterday, a priest friend of mine suggested that the current abbot of Mount Mellary could succeed Diarmuid Martin in Dublin.
“After all he is a Dublin man from Rathgar” said my friend.
I must say that the thoughts of Richard Purcell going to Dublin never entered my mind.
I didn’t even know he was Dubliner.
O’Reilly of Cashel and McGuckian are religious order men.
He is highly educated and has been on the upwards ladder since he was 33.
He is now 44 – which might make him a bit young. He would be in Dublin for 31 years.