Abbot Isaac Murphy, O.S.B.

Brother Isaac Murphy, O.S.B., has been elected the sixth abbot of Saint Anselm Abbey. This historic moment marks Abbot Isaac as the first non-ordained abbot in the United States. The abbatial election was concluded on Monday, June 17, after permission from the Holy See, the supreme body of government of the Catholic Church, was received.

Abbot Isaac was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1963. He professed simple vows as a monk of Saint Anselm Abbey in 1993 and solemn vows in 1996. He holds several degrees in Political Science, earning a Bachelor’s degree from Saint Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, in 1984, as well as a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1998 and 2008, respectively. He has lectured in the Politics Department at Saint Anselm College since 2001.

The abbatial election was convened after Abbot Mark Cooper, O.S.B., ’71, was required to submit his resignation as abbot upon his 75th birthday. Abbot Mark served as the fifth abbot of Saint Anselm Abbey from 2012 to 2024.

On April 29 and 30, 2024, the monks of Saint Anselm Abbey gathered to elect their sixth abbot. Abbot President Jonathan Licari O.S.B. of the American-Cassinese Congregation presided over the election. During the balloting, the electors selected Brother Isaac for the office of abbot. Since ordination as a Roman Catholic priest is a requirement for election, consultation with and permission from the Holy See was necessary. At that point, Abbot President Jonathan suspended the election, and a request was sent to the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Fr. Augustine Kelly, O.S.B., ’83 was appointed temporary administrator. A rescript from the Dicastery was issued on Thursday, June 6, and received by the monastic community on Thursday, June 14.

Abbot President Jonathan reconvened the election chapter on Monday, June 17, and the election of Brother Isaac Murphy, O.S.B., was confirmed with the Holy See’s permission. Upon making the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity, Brother Isaac became the Sixth Abbot of Saint Anselm Abbey, the Chancellor of Saint Anselm College, and the Chair of the Members of the Saint Anselm College Corporation. He is the first non-ordained abbot in the world since the promulgation of a rescript concerning the governance of religious communities issued by the Holy See in 2022.

Abbot Isaac served as Prior of Saint Anselm Abbey from 2005 to 2013 and then began serving as Saint Anselm College’s Vice President for Academic Affairs. In 2021, he was appointed as Saint Anselm College’s Executive Vice President. He served as a member of the College’s governing board from 2002 to 2009 and as a member of the College’s Board of Trustees from 2009 to the present.

Abbot Isaac and the monks of Saint Anselm Abbey deeply appreciate the prayers and support we have received during this process. Your unwavering support has been a source of strength and encouragement. We humbly request your continued prayers for our monastery and apostolates.