Who is Abbot Barnabas Senecal? A brother, a priest, a pastor, an educator, an artist, a leader, but perhaps most importantly, one who has shown us what it truly means to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
In celebration of his 80th birthday and in honor of his immeasurable service to our community and our Church, we are seeking to establish the Abbot Barnabas Senecal Legacy Fund.
On October 16, 1937, Tom and Tim Senecal became the newest members of the Senecal family. Growing up in Atwood, Kansas, all of the Senecal children would ultimately attend Catholic boarding school in Atchison, Kansas. It was at that time Tom would take his first steps on the journey toward the priesthood as a student at Maur Hill Prep School. After graduation he became a “hilltopper” at St. Benedict’s College and became a member of St. Benedict’s Abbey, receiving the name Barnabas.
After his collegiate studies were completed and he was ordained to the priesthood, he served in a few roles before beginning what would be his first major work as a teacher and ultimately headmaster of Maur Hill Prep School. He guided the school for 25 years before taking a sabbatical in 1991. During his sabbatical he developed a love for photography, a craft that he has expertly honed, despite his lack of any formal training. Upon his return from sabbatical he joined the staff of Holy Spirit Parish, serving as associate pastor and principal.
In 1994 Father Barnabas was elected eighth Abbot of St. Benedict’s Abbey. During his 18-year leadership he guided the community faithfully, kindling the beginnings of a vocational renewal at St. Benedict’s Abbey. He is well known throughout the archdiocese for his work administering the Sacrament of Confirmation.
During these and many other events he has been known to share not only his wisdom, but a song, and is well known as the “Singing Abbot.” His abbatial motto is “Sing a New Song to the Lord,” taken from Psalms 98 and 149.
Abbot Barnabas—in his own creative way—has attempted to make his service to the Church a work of art. If you looked at snapshots from his camera and life, you would see that God has used him to create a beautiful monastic mosaic. An exhibit of his life would include images of compassion, beauty, encouragement, wisdom, brotherly love, and service in the name of Christ.
Abbot James and the monks of St. Benedict’s Abbey humbly request your assistance, in celebration of Abbot Barnabas’ lifetime of service, with the creation of this fund with a financial contribution.