June 16, 2011

The monastic community of St. Anselm’s Abbey is pleased to announce the election of the Rt. Rev. Dom James Wiseman, OSB, as the monastery’s fifth abbot. Abbot James was elected June 16 and succeeds the Abbey’s previous superior, the Very Rev. Dom Simon McGurk, OSB, who served as Prior Administrator from June 2006 until the election. Abbot James will serve an eight-year term as the Abbey’s leader.

Abbot James entered the community of St. Anselm’s Abbey at the beginning of Advent in 1964. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, he first came to Washington as an undergraduate at Georgetown University. During his nearly 47 years at the Abbey he has served in various positions, including as the community’s second abbot from 1975 to 1983, eleven years as novice master, and as prior of the community from 1990 to 2006.

He did his theological studies for ordination at The Catholic University of America and was ordained priest on May 16, 1970. Abbot James subsequently proceeded to doctoral studies in theology at the same university, obtaining his degree in 1979.

He began teaching at St. Anselm’s Abbey School in the fall semester of 1969 and has taught a religion course (and occasionally other courses) every semester since then. In 1985 he also began teaching theology full-time at Catholic University, where he served for five years as chairman of the department of theology. In 1999 he received the university’s Alumni Achievement Award in the area of education. Abbot James is the author or editor of six books.

Long active in interreligious dialogue, he served for 12 years as editor of the Bulletin of Monastic Interreligious Dialogue and has participated in such dialogue in many parts of the world, including India, Japan, and the three well-known Buddhist-Christian encounters held at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. For recreation he enjoys backpacking, especially in the mountains of the American West.

St. Anselm’s Abbey is a community of 15 Benedictine monks located in Northeast Washington, D.C. The community was founded in 1923 by Catholic University of America psychologist Fr. Thomas Verner Moore, OSB, and a group of monks from St. Benedict’s Abbey in Fort Augustus, Scotland. Originally known as St. Anselm’s Priory, the monastery was elevated to the status of an abbey in 1961 by His Holiness Pope John XXIII.

The Abbey is one of 13 monasteries that make up the English Benedictine Congregation. The Abbot President of the congregation, the Rt. Rev. Dom Richard Yeo, OSB, was in Washington this week to facilitate the abbatial election.