Abbot, Saint Bede Abbey, Peru, Illinois (1942-1968)
The third abbot of Saint Bede Abbey was born in LaSalle, Illinois, on September 10, 1900, and was baptized with the name of Andrew in Saint Patrick’s Church, LaSalle. After attending Saint Patrick’s parochial school, he entered the Vincentian Minor Seminary in Perryville, Missouri, and there completed his classical studies. He entered Saint Bede College in 1921. He was accepted into the novitiate and on July 2, 1923, professed his first vows. His ordination to the priesthood took place on December 8, 1928.
On the college faculty he taught mathematics and attended summer sessions at the University of Notre Dame for advanced courses in math and physics. In 1933 he was with the first group assigned to Spalding Institute in Peoria, where he continued to teach math and physics.
Upon the death of Abbot Justus, Father Lawrence was elected to succeed him as abbot and was blessed on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29, 1942.
Abbot Lawrence allowed for continuing growth in the monastic observance, in the formation of the young, and in the patrimony of the abbey.
The monastic community increased its land holdings for agriculture. Abbot Lawrence also built the Repair and Replacement funds for the needs of the school and abbey over the next several decades. The monastic community approved the construction of a new water tower and a new print shop. In February of 1957 the monastic community approved to enclose the cloister with windows for a cost of $16,000.
He was elected by the Benedictine Federation as a visitator of the American Cassinese Congregation for three separate terms. He was delegated by Rome to organize the American Conference of Major Religious Superiors of which he became its first president.
During the later months of 1967, a growing number of health problems, particularly with his heart, made Abbot Lawrence decide to seek the election of a coadjutor. After a quarter of a century devoted to guarding and increasing his flock, Abbot Lawrence resigned his office as of January 26, 1968. Sixteen months later, on May 7, 1969, Abbot Lawrence died in the 69th year of age, the 46th year of his profession, and 41st year of his ordination, having served the community as its abbot for 26 years.