'A Service to the Lives of Others' St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle Elects Youngest Abbot in Monastary's 125-Year History

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), August 9, 2010 | Go to article overview

'A Service to the Lives of Others' St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle Elects Youngest Abbot in Monastary's 125-Year History


When Austin Gregory Murphy assumed his position as abbot of St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, he became the youngest monk ever elected to lead the monastic order.

Although he is not the newest member in the order, he is its youngest. The 36-year-old priest was elected abbot June 26 and is in a position to serve in that capacity until he turns 75.

Murphy is the 10th abbot to head the community of Catholic men in its 125-year history. He replaces the retiring Abbot Dismas Kalcic.

Murphy also will serve as chancellor of Benedictine University and Benet Academy, the two Lisle schools founded by the Benedictines.

The duties of an abbot include serving as spiritual father, teacher and administrator to the religious community. A distinguishing characteristic of the Benedictine order is the vow of stability each priest and brother takes to the Lisle abbey. Unlike other religious orders or diocesan priests, a Benedictine is not sent to serve at other abbeys.

"Prayer is our prime apostolate," Murphy said. "We offer our life to prayer and work for the good of the church and the world, and there is no need to move."

Murphy was born Gregory Murphy and grew up in New York the middle child, with an older brother and a younger sister. His parents, Thomas and Marie, now reside in Texas.

Although he admits to being a pensive child, he never thought of a religious vocation until his first few years at college.

"When I was young and with friends, it was easy to put off thoughts of religious life," he said.

Away from family and friends for the first time, the young man realized living his Catholic faith was now his personal responsibility. He appreciated his parents' early guidance and good examples.

"My parents planted the seeds in the belief of God and the wisdom of the Catholic Church," the abbot said. "God was at work in my life and gave me reasons to be introspective."

The question he kept returning to was, "What does God want of me?"

"I encourage everyone to open their heart and answer the question," he said.

As a college student, Gregory Murphy embraced the writings of St. Augustine of Hippo. By the time he earned his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Chicago in 1995, he felt a call to religious life.

At the suggestion of a female friend who knew of St. Procopius Abbey, Murphy came to Lisle for a religious retreat at the abbey. By the end of the week, he says he knew, without doubt, what God wanted for him.

Entering a religious order, a candidate may offer three possible names he would like

to receive. Since the abbey already had a Brother Gregory and a Brother Augustine, Murphy was given a contraction of St. Augustine -- Austin. …

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