Saint Joseph community mourns the loss of Abbot Patrick Regan, O.S.B.
Abbot Patrick Regan, O.S.B., retired abbot of Saint Joseph Abbey, died peacefully at the abbey in Saint Benedict, Louisiana, on 8 February 2017 at 8 o'clock in the evening. He was 79 years old.
John Regan was born in New Orleans to John E. Regan and Helen Barnes Regan. He had one brother, Thomas M. Regan, four years his junior. “Jack” graduated from Holy Cross High School in 1955 and entered the junior college division of Saint Joseph Seminary. In 1958 he was received into the novitiate of Saint Joseph Abbey, and he made profession as a Benedictine monk in 1959, when he was given the name Patrick. He continued studies at Notre Dame Seminary and Loyola University in New Orleans and later at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota. After ordination to the priesthood in 1965, he began studies at the Institut Catholique and the Institut Supérieur de Liturgie in Paris, where he earned a doctorate in theology in 1971.
Returning to his home monastery, he began a teaching career at Saint Joseph Seminary College that would last until 2001. For many years he also taught in the summer program at Saint John's University and, later, at Notre Dame University. During this period, he also served as chair of the Religion Department and as Director of Spiritual Formation in the Seminary College until he was elected the fourth abbot of Saint Joseph Abbey in 1982.
During his tenure as abbot, the monastery celebrated the centennial of its foundation in 1989-1990. Shortly thereafter the Abbey and Seminary College established a joint Development Office. This led to the establishment of Pennies for Bread and the Abbey, providing free bread for soup kitchens and other programs for the homeless and needy throughout the New Orleans metropolitan area. The Abbey Cemetery was also expanded under Abbot Patrick, responding to countless requests to be buried on the monastery grounds. The accomplishment for which he is most well known locally is the renovation of the Abbey Church, which began in 1996 and culminated in the Church's dedication in 1998.
While abbot of Saint Joseph, Abbot Patrick was elected Abbot President of the Swiss-American Benedictine Congregation, an office in which he served from 1987 to 1999. He was also a member of the international board, and president of the North American board, of Alliance Inter Monastère (A.I.M.), which provides support for Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in developing countries.
Upon his resignation as abbot of his monastery in 2001, he accepted a faculty appointment, which lasted until 2013, in the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy at the Pontificio Ateneo Sant' Anselmo, the Benedictine university in Rome. He also held several positions in the monastic community at the Collegio Sant' Anselmo.
Abbot Patrick's scholarly work centered on the paschal liturgy. His doctoral dissertation was on the early Roman sacramentaries' penitential formularies, which were closely bound up with the celebration of Lent and Easter. He published numerous articles in this area in Worship and other journals, and he spoke on the topic at congresses, conferences and conventions. His culminating work was his book Advent to Pentecost (2012), a comparison of the structure and content of the Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter seasons in the post-Tridentine and post-Vatican II liturgies. Abbot Patrick was a founding member of the North American Academy of Liturgy and of the Society for Catholic Liturgy and a member of the International Societas Liturgica. He also served on a commission of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, preparing a fifth volume of the Liturgia horarum.
Late in 2013, Abbot Patrick was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, and his struggle with the disease dominated the remainder of his life. He spent his last days in the abbey infirmary, cared for by his monastic brothers.
The monks of Saint Joseph Abbey will receive Abbot Patrick's body before Vespers at 5:30 in the afternoon on Monday 13 February. A Funeral Vigil will be held at 7:15 that evening. The Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 11:15 in the morning on Tuesday 14 February.