The abbot "...is believed to hold the place of Christ in the monastery" (RB Chapter 2). Right Reverand John Klassen, OSB, PhD, is the 10th abbot of Saint John's Abbey. It is his responsibility to preside at all formal functions and liturgies of the monastery, take counsel from his senior monks when making major decisions, preside at all meetings when the monastic community assembles and serve as the spiritual father of the community. He is the immediate superior for the oldest members of the monastery. At Saint John's the abbot is also the head of the Liturgical Press and Saint John's Preparatory School. He is elected by a two-thirds majority vote by the senior or solemnly professed members of the monastic community.
Abbot John grew up on a farm not far from Saint John's in Elrosa, Minnesota. He attended Saint John's Preparatory School and Saint John's University. After entering Saint John's Abbey he obtained his Masters of Divinity from Saint John's University School of Theology•Seminary. He obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the Catholic University of America and taught chemistry and served as department chairman at the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University before being elected abbot.
The prior of the monastery is nominated by the community but chosen by the abbot. Fr. Bradley Jenniges, OSB, is currently prior of Saint John's Abbey. He is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the monastery, and is the monk-in-charge when the abbot is away from the monastery. In particular the prior oversees the retirement center where the elderly and infirm members of the monastery reside, the operation of the abbey dining room and the physical state of the monastery. He is the immediate superior for the median-aged members of the monastery.
The sub-prior of the monastery is also nominated by the community and chosen by the abbot. Br. David Paul Lange, OSB, is the sub-prior of Saint John's Abbey. He is in charge should both the abbot and prior be absent. In particular the sub-prior is the immediate superior of the younger monks of the monastery.