Dom Bernardus Peeters, new Abbot General of the Trappists
General Chapter of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance - Assisi, 6-18 February 2022
Dom Bernardus Peeters, who has led Tilburg Abbey in his native Netherlands since 2005, has been elected Abbot General of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (OSCO), commonly known as the Trappists, on February 11. Delegates from around the world chose the 54-year-old priest during the congregation's February 6-18 general chapter in Assisi (Italy).
Peeters was born in Heerlen (Netherlands) in 1968 and entered Our Lady of Konigshoeven (the official name of Tilburg Abbey) in 1986. He made his solemn profession in 1991 and was ordained to the presbyterate in 1997. In 2005 he was elected abbot by his community in Tilburg, and shortly afterwards president of the Dutch-speaking region.
Peeters succeeds Eamon Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, a former abbot of Mount Melleray Abbey in Ireland, was elected abbot general in 2008. Because of poor health, he had wanted to resign in 2020 upon reaching his 75th birthday, but the coronavirus pandemic prohibited the holding of an elective chapter. There is no fixed term of office for an abbot general.
During this recent chapter, Abbot Fitzgerald told the assembly how much he had, during his office, internalized the awareness of belonging to an order and to a tradition greater than his own community and "to a reality that is beyond us".
Since 2011, abbots and abbesses form a single general chapter which is the supreme authority of the order. They meet every three years for three weeks to strengthen the bonds of peace and charity within the order and to make adequate decisions to maintain their patrimony and unity. The general chapter elects, for an unrestricted period, an abbot general. His principal role is to be a bond of unity within the order. He is assisted in this task by a Council who resides in Rome.