Earlier today I received news that an old friend died, Abbot Luke Rigby. Abbot Luke, 89, was the longtime religious superior of the monks at Saint Louis Priory –later Abbey– having come from England’s famed Ampleforth Abbey to live the Benedictine life.
Both Ampleforth and St Louis are Benedictine monasteries in the English Benedictine Congregation. In the USA Portsmouth and St Anselm’s (DC) are also of the English Congregation.
Dom Luke Rigby was appointed the Father Prior of his community succeeding Dom Columba Cary-Elwes in 1967; when the Priory granted independence by Abbot Basil Hume, Father Luke was elected the Conventual Prior by the community beginning in 1973. By grace St. Louis Priory was given abbatial status in 1989 and Prior Luke was elected its first Abbot; he served in this capacity until 1995. As the retired abbot of St Louis the English Benedictine Congregation bestowed on Abbot Luke the honor of being the Titular Abbot of Whitby.
Abbot Luke was a dear man; an insightful leader and a holy man of God. As monks say, he persevered in his vocation. I first met Abbot Luke in 1994 when I first went to St Louis for studies and then became friends with the monks there. Without fail I was received like a brother by Abbot Luke. Thanks be to God for all this.
Abbot Luke died peacefully this morning at Mercy Hospital after a long illness. His Mass of Christian Burial is Saturday, 24 March at Saint Louis Abbey.
From his biography at St Louis Abbey, it is written of Abbot Luke:
The life of this “ordinary fellow” (per his description) starts in London in 1923 in a Catholic family, through whom he is related to Saint John Rigby and other martyrs, priests, and religious of the Recusant period in England. He lived in suburban London in a Catholic environment until his father, a banker, was posted abroad. At this point Abbot Luke became a boarding student at Ampleforth College. He joined the monastery straight after high school.
Two items worth reading:
An Experience of the Eremitic Life: An Experience of the Eremitic Life by Luke Rigby.pdf
The Homily for Abbot Luke’s 50th Anniversary of Priesthood: Homily for Abbot Luke’s 50th Anniversary of priesthood.pdf
May God grant Abbot Luke mercy and may SaintsBenedict and Scholastica lead him to beatitude.
Saint John Rigby, pray for us.