Electing an Abbot doesn’t happen every day. And the Master of Ceremonies, responsible for the preparations, says: Thank God!
But our readers might be interested in what happens. Our last election, which re-elected Fr. Robert Barnes for a third six-year term, happened six years ago, before this website was renewed in its present re-incarnation, so our readers might be interested to learn what we do.
Preliminaries. This evening, Tuesday, 9 August, there are a few preliminaries to settle. All the solemnly professed monks will meet at 7:00 PM, convened by Abbot Damian Carr of St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer Massachusetts. Dom Damian is our Father Immediate, the Abbot of our Mother House and has special responsibility for our community. He is the President of the election, that is the one who presides, oversees the process.
Also with him, as official witnesses, are Mother Marion of Our Lady of the Angels, Crozet, Virginia, and Fr. John Denburger, retired Abbot of Genesee Abbey, Piffard, New York. Sr. Barbara Smickel, also from Crozet, is present as secretary of the election.
This evening we will vote from among ourselves two “scrutators”, monks who will count the votes tomorrow. Each of us receives a list of our names and we circle two. The two monks who receive the most votes become scrutators. There’s no majority–just the most votes.
Then they give each of us–and the scrutators–cast a ballot to decide on the term of office for the next Abbot. The choice is between a six year term or an “undefined” term, meaning until the Abbot needs to retire due to age or infirmity. There was a time when Abbots were elected for life; but imagine the situation of an Abbot who suffered a stroke but lived, bedridden for another eight years. Now Abbots have a retirement age (75); as we’ve recently seen, even popes can retire. Now the importance of this vote is that the community decides how long the term will be, independent of the candidate who will win the election. We don’t vote in a monk and then decide: “Oh he got it! I don’t want him in Office more than six years…” No we decide that independent of the personality and individual and make that decision this evening. And this vote is the first time that the scrutators exercise their responsibility. Only one vote is taken and the decision in our case only requires an “absolute” majority–half of our number plus one vote. Then we are done for the evening
Tomorrow at 7:00 AM, Dom Damian will preside at the Mass of the Holy Spirit, to invoke God’s Wisdom on our deliberations. After that we will begin the election at 8:15 AM. But that will be considered in the next post.
to be continued