By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

PAOLI – Cardinal Justin Rigali has conferred an abbatial blessing upon the new abbot of Daylesford Abbey, Norbertine Abbot Richard J. Antonucci.

The blessing was administered Saturday, April 18 – the day after the abbot’s 64th birthday – at the Church of the Assumption at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli.

Abbot Antonucci said he still gets chills when he thinks about the kind words the Cardinal said to him about the two of them working collaboratively.

“I told him he could count on my assurance and obedience in whatever way that he as our chief shepherd can see either the Norbertines or Daylesford Abbey furthering the mission of the Archdiocese,” Abbot Antonucci said.

On Jan. 23, the Norbertine Order at Daylesford Abbey, a Roman Catholic order of priests and brothers, elected Father Antonucci as their fourth abbot.

“By electing you, your brothers have shown their esteem for you and their confidence in your abilities,” the Cardinal said in his homily. “Through His Church, God now entrusts you with the task of being for this community a willing servant and a loving father, a prudent and faithful teacher and an ardent but gentle shepherd, one who will guide this community to be one mind and one heart in God.”

Abbot Antonucci said he was humbled to be elected by his brother Norbertines. He chose as his abbatial motto, “Of One Heart on the Way to God.”

Before the blessing, Abbot Antonucci lay prostrate as the litany of saints was prayed. The Cardinal then presented Abbot Antonucci with the constitution of the Norbertine order, which includes the rule of St. Augustine, and with the abbot’s ring, miter and crozier.

“As abbot, you will collaborate with me in the pastoral care of the members of this ecclesial community and of the parishes entrusted to your order,” continued the Cardinal. “For your community and for the entire Church, you must be a sign of hope, a holy priest who always leads others to Jesus. To carry out faithfully the awesome responsibilities placed upon you, you yourself must see, listen to and love the risen Jesus.”

Abbot Antonucci was humbled by the Cardinal’s words. “He invited me in as kind of a leader with him. He made me feel as if my ministry to the Norbertines, in particular as their superior, was indeed as pastoral as his is to his priests.”

Abbot Antonucci was solemnly professed on Aug. 28, 1968, and ordained a priest in the Church of the Assumption at Daylesford Abbey on May 20, 1972, by the late Auxiliary Bishop Gerald V. McDevitt.

Before his election as abbot, he had served as prior of Daylesford Abbey since June 2007.

Assignments have also included director of technology in the archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education and principal, mathematics and computer education instructor at St. John Neumann High School for Boys in South Philadelphia.

In his homily, the Cardinal acknowledged that as the universal Church marks the Jubilee Year of St. Paul, the Norbertine community marks the 875th anniversary of the death of St. Norbert.

“These two great saints must provide for you, Father Richard, and for all of the Daylesford community, examples to be emulated,” the Cardinal said. “Both saints proclaimed the Gospel convincingly because they unwaveringly lived what they believed. Their motivation always was a burning love for Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.”

A native of South Philadelphia, Abbot Antonucci graduated from Annunciation B.V.M. School in 1959 and from Bishop Neumann High School in 1963. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in 1968 at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wis., a master’s degree in religious education in 1972 at Villanova University and a master’s degree in education in 1973 at Penn State University.

Abbot Antonucci succeeds Norbertine Abbot Ronald J. Rossi, who had been abbot of Daylesford since 2000.

For more information about Daylesford Abbey, visit the web site

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at (215) 587-2468 or