RIP Abbot Timothy Kelly, OSB

Abbot Timothy Kelly, OSB, ninth abbot of Saint John’s Abbey, died this evening after an extended illness. He was abbot of St. John’s from 1993 until 2000, and was abbot president of the American Cassinese congregation of U.S. Benedictine abbeys until his illness recently forced him to step down. He was 76.

For now I will share just one memory.  In 1994 he called me in to his office to ask what I thought of studying Gregorian chant during my coming graduate studies in Europe. I said I was not interested. I was anxious about learning a foreign language and completing my studies and did not want an added burden. He said, “But I’m asking you to do this. Fr. Bartholomew is not getting any younger, and we need a young monk to know chant. It’s important that this tradition be kept alive in our house.” I agreed to his request. I’m now most grateful for his encouragement.

May he rest in peace.



  1. A tremendous loss to the abbey, and to the congregation. He will be sorely missed for his hospitality, his wit, and his wisdom.

    I treasure the copies of his Triduum homilies from my early retreats at Saint John’s, in the mid 1990s.

    May he rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

  2. “For those who believe, life is changed, not ended.”…Mass of Christian Burial. Abbot Timothy accepted my oblation. He will be missed. May he rest in peace.

  3. I was an undergraduate at St. John’s when abbot Timothy was elected and I was privilaged to be asked to join the monastic schola in singing for his installation liturgy. His was a powerful and stabilizing force at St. John’s Abbey in the early 1990s. May he rest in peace.

  4. I was so sad when our sub-prior announced this news as a novice of Holy Trinity Benedictine Monastery, which depends on Saint John’s Abbey. Last year I met him in Japan and he encouraged me to discern this “Uneasy Religious Way” deeply and to seek God with the pure heart, thank you, Abbot Timothy!

    May he rest in peace through the mercy of God.

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