The son of the late William Elias and Mae Theresa Lorenzo, Bishop Elias R. Lorenzo, O.S.B., was born on October 6, 1960, in Brooklyn, NY. He attended St. Agatha Parish Elementary School (Sunset Park) and Cathedral Prep (Fort Green) before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Don Bosco College Seminary in Newton, NJ.
He entered Saint Mary’s Abbey, Morristown, New Jersey, in 1983, making his first monastic profession on March 21, 1985. He was ordained a priest on June 24, 1989. Bishop Elias holds a Master's degree in Liturgical Theology from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN, a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, and a Licentiate in Canon Law from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.
Bishop Elias has more than 30 years of experience in secondary school education and administration at Delbarton School, serving as director of campus ministry, teacher and chairman of the Religious Studies Department, member of the Board of Trustees, and Vice President for Development. In his role as educator, he also was engaged with Operation Smile International and served on its advisory board, traveling on multiple medical missions with Delbarton students to Bolivia, China, Honduras, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, and the Philippines.
In the monastery, Bishop Elias served as Director of Liturgy, Prior of the Abbey and Rector of Church. During this same time, he served as a member and chairman of the Paterson Diocesan Liturgical Commission for twelve years. Following his service as Prior, he was appointed Vicar for Religious in the Diocese of Metuchen. Thereafter, he worked as canonical counsel for Praesidium, Inc. in the development of national safe environment standards and protocols. He subsequently served on Praesidium’s advisory board.
For the global Benedictine Confederation, Bishop Elias served at Sant’Anselmo, the international Benedictine university in Rome, as Prior of the College. In addition, he worked as Procurator General for the Benedictine Order in Rome. Bishop Elias is a founding member of the International Commission for Benedictine Education, a global association of 180 secondary schools in 36 countries. In his role as President of the Commission, he visited Benedictine schools throughout the United States, Western Europe, South America, Latin America, Africa, Australia, and the Philippines.
In 2016, he was elected Abbot President of American Cassinese Congregation, an association of Benedictine monasteries. Erected by Pope Pius IX in 1855 under the patronage of the Holy Guardian Angels, this monastic Congregation includes 25 monasteries in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, and Taiwan with 650 monks. The Benedictine monasteries of the American Cassinese Congregation sponsor 9 colleges and universities and 14 secondary schools in North and South America and serve in pastoral ministry in many dioceses in six countries.
As Abbot President of the Congregation, Bishop Elias served as a member of the Union of Superiors General, which meets bi-annually in Rome, and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, which meets bi-annually in various regions of the country and at a national assembly each year.
On February 27, 2020, His Holiness, Pope Francis named Abbot Elias to serve as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Newark.
Coat of Arms
Blazon: Per chevron Argent and Checky Azure and Argent; in chief two crescents Azure; in base a cross formée patée Gules enflamed Or. Shield ensigned with an episcopal cross Or behind the shield and a bishop’s galero Vert cords and twelve tas-sels disposed in three rows of one, two and three all Vert. On a scroll below the shield the motto: “Nihil Impossibile Apud Deum”.
Explanation: The armorial bearings of Bishop Elias Lorenzo reflect his family name, the community of his profession, his most recent ministry and his monastic pa-tron.
The shield is divided by a line shaped like a chevron. This creates the general shape alluding to a mountain, in this case Mount Carmel, the mountain associated with the prophet Elijah from whose name the name Elias is derived. The large tongue of fire in the center of the lower portion of the shield (referred to as “in base”) combined with the mountain allude to St. Elias.
In addition, the blue and silver (white) checked pattern also has a multi-layered mean-ing. The American-Cassinese Congregation was founded by Benedictines from St. Mi-chael’s Abbey in Bavaria. The motherhouse of the Congregation, St. Vincent Archab-bey in Pennsylvania, makes use of the blue and silver fusils (a kind of elongated dia-mond pattern) from the coat of arms of Bavaria in its own coat of arms. Several other monasteries in the Congregation which are daughter houses or grand daughter hous-es of St. Vincent also make use of this pattern. One such abbey is St. Mary’s in Morris-town, New Jersey. At this monastery Bishop Elias entered monastic life, made his pro-fession of vows and was ordained. In his coat of arms the blue and silver (white) fusils have been turned sideways forming a grid of blue and white squares or checks. The grid pattern suggests the gridiron on which St. Lawrence was roasted alive as the means of his martyrdom. This is an allusion to the Abbot’s surname, “Lorenzo” which in Italian means “Lawrence”. The grid of blue and white squares combined with the fire represents St. Lawrence while at the same time the blue and white squares are a slightly differenced reference to the coat of arms of St. Mary’s Abbey as well as Bavaria in general as the homeland of the Congregation’s founders.
At the center of the flame there is a red rounded cross. This cross is taken from the coat of arms of Sant’Anselmo in Rome where, for seven years before his election as Abbot-President of the American-Cassinese Congregation of Benedictines, the armiger was served as Prior of the monastic community.
Above the chevron in the upper portion of the shield (referred to as “in chief”) there are two blue crescents. The crescent has long been associated with Our Lady in particular under her title of the Immaculate Conception. That title is also the one by which Mary is the Patroness of the United States of America. In addition, crescents appear in the coat of arms of St. Mary’s Abbey and the coat of arms of the Delbarton School, the Abbey’s principal apostolate, both of with which Bishop Elias is closely associated.
The motto below the shield is taken from Luke 1:37 and is translated as, “Nothing is impossible with God”.
The shield is also ensigned with those external ornaments that indicate the bearer is a bishop. The gold (yellow) episcopal cross, not to be confused with a processional cross, is placed vertically behind and extending above and below the shield. In former times archbishops, and later all bishops, had a cross mounted on a staff carried imme-diately in front of them while in procession or on solemn occasions. This cross was a symbol of their rank as bishop. While such an episcopal cross is no longer used prac-tically it has been retained heraldically. In fact, there are other clerics who make use of the ecclesiastical hat with its many tassels but the one true heraldic emblem of a bish-op, and the only essential one, is the episcopal cross placed behind the shield.
Above the shield is the ecclesiastical hat, called a galero which, in heraldry, replaces the martial helmet, mantling and crest. “The hat with six pendant tassels (green, purple or black) on each side is universally considered in heraldry as the sign of prelacy. It, therefore, pertains to all who are actually prelates.” (Heim, Bruno B., Heraldry in the Catholic Church 1978, page 114) The galero is green with green cords pendant from it and twelve green tassels arranged in a pyramid shape on either side of the shield. At one time in history bishops and archbishops wore green before adopting the more Roman purple we see today. In heraldry the green hat and tassels was retained for prelates with the rank of bishop according to the Instruction of the Secretariat of State, “Ut Sive” of March, 1969.
The armorial bearings of Bishop Elias were designed, blazoned and rendered after his election as Abbot in 2016 and modified for his promotion to Bishop by the Rev. Guy Selvester a priest of the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey.