The Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Our Lady, Help of Christians – known as Worth Abbey – have elected Dom Mark Barrett as the seventh abbot of their foundation, succeeding Abbot Luke Jolly, who is retiring upon the completion of his term of office. English Benedictines choose their superior every eight years, after a process of prayerfull discernment and discussion.
“The task of a Benedictine Abbot is to articulate the rhythm of the monastery and bring the many different gifts of the brethren together,” Abbot Mark said. “It is a challenge to be asked to undertake this responsibility, and a genuine honour.”
The new abbot was born in West Yorkshire in 1957. A graduate of Cambridge and London Universities, he is the author of several books, including The Wind, the Fountain, and the Fire, the Bloomsbury Lent Book of 2020.
A daughter house of St Gregory’s Abbey at Downside, Worth Priory was founded by Abbot John Chapman in in 1933. It became an independent house in 1957. The Abbey is located in West Sussex in southeast England, close to Gatwick Airport. It has close ties to the nearby Worth School, a boarding and day school which opened shortly after the Abbey became independent. It also maintains a long-term missionary connection with Peru, where Worth monks build a farm and mission, that has subsequently continued through the charity outreach Peru.
The community’s life is centred around Lectio divina, personal prayer, sacred liturgy, hospitality, spirituality, and discipleship. The community is host to over 2000 visitors year through the Open Cloister, which incorporates a daily and residential retreat program.