Mount Melleray abbot named as Cistercian head

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AN IRISH abbot has for the first time been elected to the position of Abbot General of the Cistercian Order.

Dom Eamon Fitzgerald, the abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey in Co Waterford, was elected to the position at a meeting yesterday of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance in Assisi, Italy.

Originally from Dublin, he has been abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey since 1989.

Dom Eamon succeeds Dom Bernardo Olivera from Argentina, who has been general of the order since 1990

He will assume office in Rome immediately.

Commenting on the election, Brother Boniface, prior at Mount Melleray, said yesterday was a momentous day for the abbey and the Cistercian Order in Ireland, as Dom Eamon was the first Irish man to be elected as abbot general.

"We will be very sad to lose him but are delighted that he has been honoured with this prestigious role within the Cistercian Order," he said.

The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, William Lee, also extended congratulations to Dom Eamon, saying "all who know him will rejoice with me today in wishing him every blessing in his new ministry".

The Bishop said "he is a man of deep spirituality, blessed with a great love for the church, who will bring a wealth of experience to his new ministry".

At present, there are 97 monasteries of monks and 72 monasteries of nuns in the order spread over 47 different countries, including five Cistercian monasteries of monks and one monastery of Cistercian nuns located in Ireland.

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