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Chrysogonus Waddell

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Trappist monk was an author and a composer

By Jim Warren of the Lexington Herald-Leader

The Rev. Chrysogonus Waddell, a Trappist monk, composer, author and member of the Abbey of Gethsemani for 58 years, has died.

He was 78.

The Rev. Waddell died Sunday, Nov. 23, 2008, at the abbey infirmary after suffering a series of strokes. He had declined life support.

The Rev. Waddell was born March 1, 1930, in the Philippines, where his father was serving in the U.S. Army. Although he grew up in an Episcopalian family, he converted to Roman Catholicism at age 19.

He came to Gethsemani in 1950, arriving on a bus just like the Rev. Thomas Merton, another member of Gethsemani who became famous as a writer and thinker.

Although he traveled around the world, the Rev. Waddell lived the rest of his life at the abbey. He was ordained a priest in 1958.

The Rev. Waddell held a strong interest in music from his youth, and studied for two years at the Philadelphia Conservatory. In 1962, the Trappist order sent him to Rome to further his theological studies at the Pontifical College of San Anselmo.

He composed many chants and pieces of music, some of which went into a recording, Music From the Abbey of Gethsemani. It featured pieces sung by monks at the abbey, composed and arranged by the Rev. Waddell.

He also adapted the traditional Gregorian chant for use in vernacular liturgy.

In addition to composing music, the Rev. Waddell wrote five books and more than 175 articles. He also was an accomplished organist.

“He was an amazing man,” said Ann Carol Buckles of Lexington, a friend for almost 20 years. “He had a wonderful sense of humor, but he was also a great spiritual adviser. When times were bad, he was always there for me.”

A funeral Mass will be held at the abbey at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 25. The Rev. Waddell will be buried afterward in the cemetery on the grounds of the abbey.

Published in Lexington Herald-Leader from Nov. 24 to Nov. 29, 2008
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