Statement about Br. Ambrose Fryer, OSB

Published: February 26, 2024

Abbot Elijah Owens, OSB, of Subiaco Abbey, released the following statement on Feb. 23, 2024, regarding the removal of Brother Ambrose Fryer, OSB, (“John Thomas Fryer”) from active ministry as a monk of Subiaco Abbey.

"Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

"As the abbot of Subiaco, I am coming to you with some unfortunate news: I have removed Brother Ambrose Fryer (photo) from active ministry as a monk of Subiaco Abbey.

"'John Thomas Fryer' was born in 1972 and lived most of his life in the state of Louisiana where he entered as a seminarian with the Diocese of Alexandria at the age of 19. He attended St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington, La., in 1990 and after graduation enrolled in 1994 at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

"During those years he had various parochial assignments during the summers. At one point he separated from the formation program of the Diocese of Alexandria and began working as a teacher at local schools. From 1997-2001 he worked at Holy Savior Menard Central High School. From 2001-2005 he worked at St. Rita Catholic School. From 2005-2017 he returned to work at Holy Savior Menard Central High School.

"'John Thomas Fryer' came to our monastery on Sept. 1, 2017, at the age of 45. He entered as a candidate, progressed through our novitiate, and made his simple vows as a monk of our community on Feb. 2, 2019, taking the religious name of ‘Ambrose.’ He made his final solemn profession on Dec. 21, 2021.

"In recent months Brother Ambrose Fryer had been experiencing anxiety and stress due to what he reported as dealing with the deteriorating health of his parents and sister. As is sometimes common with people who are struggling with unusual pressures — monks, included — there were aspects of life that both Brother Ambrose and I recognized required the attention of trained medical, mental health and wellness professionals.

"Brother Ambrose agreed to take a time-out and work with the team of experts at Saint John Vianney Center in Downingtown, Pa. Since 1946, Vianney Center has focused its healthcare ministry on Catholic clergy and men and women religious who are experiencing emotional challenges and who need holistic help and residential treatment. Brother Ambrose went there in mid-January of this year.

"Just last week, he completed his evaluation and individualized assessment at Vianney Center, and I received some information regarding the findings. For many reasons, including both canonically and civilly, I am constrained under these laws in what I can share with all of you. What I can write is that as a result of what was learned from Brother Ambrose in the treatment process, the medical professionals at Vianney Center — as mandated reporters of child abuse — made reports about Brother Ambrose in Pennsylvania (where the center is located) and in Louisiana.

"Let me be clear: I have no information that any child associated in any way with our abbey was harmed by Brother Ambrose. Brother Ambrose has been adamant that he has never abused a minor while a monk of Subiaco Abbey.

"However, with this new information from the Vianney Center and out of an abundance of caution, our Office of Child Protection also voluntarily made a report to the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline.

"Moving forward, the civil authorities in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Arkansas will take whatever action they feel is necessary. I and the abbey will fully cooperate with them. And, I want to make known that the abbey will not interfere with their investigations. To that end, allow me to provide some contact information.


"Please contact Detective Chad Jeansonne of the Alexandria (Louisiana) Police Department at (318) 441-6542 if you were harmed in any way by 'John Thomas Fryer.' After doing so, you may then contact the victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Alexandria (Dr. Lee Kneipp, clinical psychologist) at (318) 542-9805.


"Please contact the State of Arkansas Hotline for Crimes Against Children at (800) 482-5964 if you and anyone you know have been abused as a minor. After doing so, you may then contact the victim assistance coordinator for Subiaco Abbey (Father Reginald Udouj, OSB) at (479) 438-3335.

"As we move forward in the days ahead, I will use this webpage to provide any updates in the investigation as legal authorities will allow.

"Our monastic community has been called by God to continue the great tradition of the prophet Elijah, John the Baptist, St. Paul, St. Anthony, St. Benedict, St. Scholastica and countless other men and women who dedicated their whole lives to proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ.

"We 34 Subiaco monks will continue to do the same as we have done since 1878 when our monastery was first founded in Arkansas. Please pray for us in our ongoing contemplative mission, and as our Holy Father St. Benedict commands us monks in chapter 72 of his rule, 'may we prefer nothing to Christ and may he lead us all together to everlasting life.'

"God bless!
+Abbot Elijah"

As always, if you or someone you know has been (or you suspect has been) sexually abused as a minor by a priest, deacon, religious or other representative of the Church, the Diocese of Little Rock encourages you to contact first the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline (800-482-5964), and then Deacon Matthew Glover, diocesan chancellor for canonical affairs (501-664-0340, ext. 361) or Laura Gottsponer, victims assistance coordinator (501-664-0340, ext. 425.)