MONCKS CORNER—Trappist Father Joseph A. Tedesco was elected the new leader of Our Lady of Mepkin Abbey on Nov. 3.
Father Joe, as he is known, succeeds Father Stan Gumula, who led the Mepkin community for the past 12 years. The monks chose the priest to be their new superior, and it was confirmed by Father Elias Deitz, abbot of Gethsemane Abbey in Kentucky, Mepkin’s Motherhouse.
He will assume spiritual leadership of the community, serving as its superior. Because of age requirements, Father Stan could not be re-elected abbot, according to a press release from the abbey.
Father Joe entered Mepkin in March 2008 and made his solemn profession as a monk on June 28, 2014. He has worked on the farm, cooked and supervised in the kitchen, managed the abbey store and reception center, and served as director of monks in temporary vows.
“The Holy Spirit was truly with us as we journeyed together as a community to come to know what God was asking of us,” Father Joe stated.
“This helped us to clarify how to go forward. I feel blessed to know, as I begin the spiritual leadership of Mepkin, that we are open to the Spirit, supportive of one another and energized as a community,” he continued. “So, I can say that we are full of gratitude for the past, hopeful for our future, and approaching our present with passion. This is the gift we have given to each other.”
The son of Anthony and Anna Tedesco, Father Joe was born in Philadelphia. He has two sisters (one is a member of the Society of the Holy Child) and two brothers (one his twin.) He attended Catholic grammar and high schools in Philadelphia, received a bachelor’s degree in theology from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh in 1975, and a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore in 1979.
He was a priest in the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., and served there from 1979 to 2007 in various positions.
In 2015, Father Joe published “Food for Thought: Mepkin Abbey Fare”, which contains the mostly vegetarian recipes he cooks for the monks and visitors.
Mepkin Abbey is part of the Roman Catholic Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, known as Trappists. Currently, 17 men are members of the monastery. They follow the Rule of St. Benedict, spending their days in prayer, work and spiritual readings and welcoming visitors all year long.
For more information visit: www.mepkinabbey.org.