Subiaco Abbey elects Abbot Elijah Owens

Published: July 21, 2022

Father Elijah Owens, OSB, was elected the eighth abbot of Subiaco Abbey on Thursday, July 7. He replaced Abbot Leonard Wangler, OSB, who led the Benedictine community for the past seven years.

Abbot Elijah was elected by his fellow monks. His acceptance made him the spiritual head and father of the 35 religious priests and brothers at Subiaco immediately. He took the oath of office July 7. Then Bishop Anthony B. Taylor celebrated the abbatial blessing on Saturday, July 16. Read his homilyTo learn more about how monks are elected in the ancient Benedictine tradition, visit Subiaco Abbey.

Abbot Elijah recently graduated with a doctorate in liturgy and monastic studies at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Anselm, earned a certificate in religious formation from the Congregation of Consecrated Life and a diploma in safeguarding of minors from the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University. 

He is the son of Jerry and Brenda Owens, was born in 1965 and raised as a Southern Baptist in Mount Airy, N.C. He converted to Catholicism in college. After working for the U.S. government, he followed his calling to become a diocesan priest. He was ordained in 1995 for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W.V., taking on parish and diocesan assignments. A calling to monastic life eventually led him to Subiaco Abbey. He professed his vows as a monk of Subiaco on Sept. 8, 2011, and was given the name Elijah. Learn more about his vocation story by reading Arkansas Catholic.

The Benedictines of Subiaco Abbey in Arkansas are a community of monks serving God by prayer and work in the tradition of the Swiss-American congregation. In fidelity to that Benedictine tradition, they proclaim the Gospel through monastic and private prayer, hospitality, retreats and spiritual direction, education, parish, diocesan and special ministries. They opened what is now Subiaco Academy in the 1880s. It is a Catholic, college preparatory school for boys, in the Benedictine tradition, which welcomes young men of all faiths in grade 7-12. This school accepts both day and boarding students.