Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Worth Abbey West Sussex Appoints New Abbot

Worth Abbey Reports:
Father Kevin Taggart, has been elected Abbot of Worth Abbey following the Abbatial Election held on 2nd June. He takes over from Father Christopher Jamison who has been Abbot since July 2002.

Founded in 1933 Worth Abbey has a community of 24 monks. It is one of thirteen monasteries belonging to the English Benedictine Congregation that requires all monastic communities to hold an abbatial election every eight years. In his Rule, St Benedict, the patriarch of western monasticism, lays down what is expected of an Abbot. He is the ‘father’ and ‘teacher’ of the family of brothers and ‘shepherd of souls’.

One of the roles of Abbot is to decide how his monastery will interact with the world around it. Worth is closely involved in the life of the locality and the Churches in the south east of England. The Abbey runs a co-educational school, a retreat centre, (The Open Cloister) and a thriving parish. Worth Abbey was featured in the TV series “The Monastery” in which five men seeking a new direction in their lives, spend 40 days in the monastery. Another TV programme, “The Big Silence”, shortly to be shown on BBC2 also features the Abbey.

Born in Kent, 1931, the youngest of four girls and three boys, Father Kevin was educated at Downside School and Christ’s College, Cambridge, gaining a degree in English. Initially a member of the Downside Abbey community, he volunteered for Worth Priory, now Abbey, on its independence in 1957. He was the first housemaster when Worth School was founded as a senior school in 1959. He has served the School as a teacher, housemaster and headmaster, as well as holding the offices of Bursar for Worth Abbey and Parish Priest. He has served as Governor to other schools including New Hall, St Teresa’s, Effingham and Beechwood Sacred Heart, Tunbridge Wells, where he has recently stood down as Chair of Governors after 18 years. His wide interests include playing golf and rugby (as a spectator these days).

Commenting on his appointment Father Kevin said: “I am deeply touched by the confidence that the community has shown in me. The monastic life is a great gift to the church and the world. It will be my privilege to foster this gift at Worth Abbey”.

Fr Christopher, who has been a member of the Worth community since 1973, said: “I have been fortunate to serve the community as Abbot for the last eight years and look forward to continuing to serve in different ways in the future, while having the opportunity to continue with my writing.”

On taking up his role as Abbot, Father Kevin will become president of the Board of Governors of Worth School and will continue to work with the Governors to ensure that Worth continues to offer high standards of care in all areas of school life. He will oversee the Abbey Church refurbishment which starts this month.

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