New Abbot Solemnly Blessed at Marmion
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
October 5, 2023
AURORA—Benedictine Abbot Joel Rippinger of Marmion Abbey and Academy received a Solemn Abbatial Blessing on Sept. 23 and was formally established as the Sixth Abbot of Marmion Abbey.
He was elected by his fellow monks as abbot on Aug. 19, following the retirement of Father John Brahill, OSB, who served since 2010 as Marmion’s fifth abbot. Marmion’s fourth abbot, Father Vincent Bataille, OSB, also continues to reside, serve, and pray at Marmion Abbey.
Marmion’s abbot supervises the spiritual lives of the monks and serves as the head of the abbey and president of Marmion Inc. 
Marmion has a long history in the Aurora area. The Benedictine monks of St. Meinrad Abbey in southern Indiana were invited to Aurora in 1933 by the late Bishop Edward F. Hoban of Rockford to conduct the former Fox Valley Catholic High School for Boys on Lake Street in Aurora, which became Marmion (Military) Academy. On March 21, 1947, Marmion was elevated from a dependent Priory of St. Meinrad to an independent Abbey.
Its newest abbot is the second of six children born to the late Joseph and Helen Rippinger. Abbot Joel’s father, five uncles and four of his brothers are all Marmion Academy graduates. However, he chose to attend high school and college at Saint Meinrad Minor Seminary in Indiana, joining the Marmion Abbey community in 1968. 
He graduated in 1970 from St. Procopius College and earned a master’s degree in American History from the University of Notre Dame. He completed his priesthood studies and received a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL), specializing in Monastic Studies, from the Benedictine Pontifical School of Theology at Sant’Anselmo Ateneo in Rome. He made his solemn profession as a Benedictine monk Aug. 6, 1973, and was ordained to the priesthood on July 13, 1974.
Abbot Joel has served as a faculty member at Marmion Academy since 1976, was a dorm prefect, a tennis coach, the director of Marmion Abbey’s oblates, was novice master and subprior twice, and he has been the faculty/staff chaplain for the academy since 2003.
Bishop of Rockford David Malloy celebrated the Sept. 23 Mass and imparted the Solemn Abbatial Blessing. The ceremony included the Litany of the Saints, the Prayer of Blessing, presentation of the Rule of St. Benedict, presentation of Pontifical Insignia — a ring, a miter and a shepherd’s crosier — and ended with a sign of peace to the new abbot from the bishop, the religious, and priests of the diocese who were present.
“A change of leadership is always a moment of importance, a moment of uncertainty, and a moment of hope,” Bishop Malloy said in his homily. He briefly highlighted some of the many changes and challenges that took place over the former abbot’s 13-year tenure and said, “At (those) moments, leadership is constantly called to seek unity and to seek support … to untie knots, some held tightly, so that the unity that Christ prayed for among all of his followers might be lived out among those entrusted to the service of the abbot.”
The bishop noted Abbot Joel’s many years at Marmion, and recalled one winter gathering and convocation of diocesan priests whose East Coast speaker was snowed in at the last minute. The suggestion was made to ask then-Father Joel of Marmion Abbey. He came.
“With little time to prepare, you offered out of your treasury a number of spiritual reflections for our priests,” Bishop Malloy recalled. “I heard comments later that the priests were so uplifted that they said it was better than any convocation they’d had in recent memory. Only experienced prayer and spirituality could make that happen.”
Bishop Malloy acknowledged the various crosses being accepted by the new abbot before him.
“Abbot Joel we recognize that you are leading now, for our sake … you will seek the prayers of your brothers in this task … the goal is set so that you, like the Lord, should not lose even one of the flock entrusted to your care,” he said.
He sought also to assure the new abbot that he was not alone in his task.
“Of course, your service and charism is profoundly marked by the charism and the Rule of St. Benedict … you have such a singular intercessor before God’s throne,” Bishop Malloy said.
“But this Mass in some ways places a real obligation on all of us who are here in attendance … We must be mindful of the depth of what is happening here before us … We must do what we can during the coming years to help you …
“It might be our presence, it might be our prayers, it might be our material assistance. Our prayers especially must never grow weary of accompanying the abbot of Marmion Abbey.
“Abbot Joel, may God richly bless you. … May our Lady and St. Benedict intercede for you each day.”
Marmion Abbey continues to conduct Marmion Academy — a college preparatory high school for young men, and also a mission in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, Central America. Additionally, Marmion provides pastors for Annunciation Parish and St. George Byzantine Romanian Catholic Parish in Aurora, as well as extensive pastoral assistance for parishes of the Rockford and Joliet dioceses.
Marmion was named in honor of Blessed Columba Marmion, OSB (1858-1923), who was renowned for his heroic virtue, sanctity of life and spiritual writings.


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