Volume XXV, Number 2
December, 2007
Cumulative Issue: #49
The English Speaking Circary
of the
Order of Prémontré

Thomas O. Meulemans, O.Praem., Paoli, Editor
Theodore J. Antry, O.Praem., Paoli, Associate
Managing Editor and Circulation:
Stephen J. Rossey, O.Praem., De Pere
Canonry Correspondents
(Superior listed if no other specific
community member has been designated)
Joel P. Garner, O.Praem., Albuquerque
James D. Bagnato, O.Praem., Bayview
Steven J. Herro, O.Praem., De Pere
Jeremy R. Tobin, O.Praem., Jackson
Benzes Thomas, O.Praem., Jamtara
Gerard P. Cusack, O.Praem., Kilnacrott
Ashley J. Orgil, O.Praem., Kommetjie
Benny Peekunnel, O.Praem., Mananthavady
Hugh D. Allan, O.Praem., Manchester
Jerome M. Molokie, O.Praem., Orange
Joseph P. McLaughlin, O.Praem., Paoli
Patrick W. Doolan, O.Praem., Queens Park
Ambrose Christe, O.Praem., Rome
Andrew H. Smith, O.Praem., Storrington
Send all correspondence and inquiries to Editor:
Rev. Thomas Meulemans, O.Praem.
St. Norbert Abbey, 1016 N. Broadway
De Pere WI 54115-2697 U.S.A.
e-mail >

Table of Contents
Eugene J. Hayes, O.Praem. - The Vicar's Column, 1
Tom Meulemans, O.Praem. Editor's Page:
a. An Old Friend Becomes a Cardinal
b. Previewing Some Items in this issue of the Communicator, 2
Francis Dorff, O.Praem. - Lazarus [poem], 4
St. John Baptist de la Salle - June 6: St. Norbert, 5
Donald P. Kommers - 2007 Commencement Address St. Norbert College, De Pere, 7
Andrew D. Ciferni, O.Praem. - Reflections on What Distinguishes the Norbertines
- or - Premonstratensian Charism at the Dawn of the 21st Century, 10
John L. Bostwick, O.Praem. - “Changed from Glory into Glory”, 15
Andrew H. Smith, O.Praem. - Storrington Priory 1882 - 2007, 125 Years of Life, 19
Andrew J. Mcliree - Courageous Prayer - or - How I Discovered Ignatian Spirituality, 22
Julie Friedman - European Heritage Tour Brings Norbertine History to Life, 23
Jeremy R. Tobin, O.Praem. - A Much Needed Movement of Hope, 26
Xavier G. Colavechio, O.Praem. - A Passage to India, 28
Circary Chronicle
Albuquerque, 32
De Pere, 33
Jackson, 34
Kommetjie, 35
Mananthavady, 36
Manchester, 39
Orange, 40
Paoli, 41
Rome, 43
Storrington, 44
Mathew Thankchan, O.Praem., - The Making of Man (Cho & Choice) [poem], 46
The Definitory of the Order, 46  

Eugene J. Hayes, O.Praem.
Abbot of Orange
Vicar of the English Speaking Circary
From the Vicar

Fr. Paul Murray, an Irish-born Dominican who teaches in Rome gave us our annual retreat. From his talks I was able to glean that he was one of a select circle of priests to whom Blessed Mother Teresa, over the years, looked for guidance and direction.

He related that Mother Teresa, asked one time to sum up the Gospel, immediately responded: “Five words....” Then counting them off on her fingers she said: “You did it to me.” Then she repeated herself “You did it to me.” That compendium of the Gospel aptly sums up the truth at the foundation of her life spent “joyfully serving Christ under the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.”

Yet as the world has discovered in recent weeks, Mother’s joyful service was itself also a disguise of sorts. Amidst a minor media storm her name once more made headlines, even appearing on the cover of the September 3rd issue of Time magazine, entitled: “The Secret Life of Mother Teresa – Newly published letters reveal a beloved icon’s 50-year crisis of faith.” Crisis of faith? Well not exactly.

With the publication of the book “Mother Teresa: Come be my light” containing her private correspondence with spiritual advisors (correspondence which she asked explicitly to be destroyed) we discover that, with the exception of one month’s time in 1958, she labored for all of her life as a Missionary of Charity in what theologians of the mystical life call “the dark night of the soul.” During that brief period of days in 1958 she wrote in marked contrast to what usually flowed from her pen: “Today my soul is filled with love, with joy untold, with an unbroken union of love.” For the rest of her life of service, it seems, she accompanied Jesus in his darkest hours.

Blessed Mother Teresa’s foundational insight says something to us. As she did, so we, under a special title as Norbertines, seek to love God in others and others in God. And as for her so for us, God is masked under varied disguises of confreres with whom we live and all those others to whom we minister. It was her joy and is our mission, through our ministry within and without, to give the divine image a greater relief. In her spirit, may our multi-faceted ministry refashion within all those whom we serve a more striking and fuller resemblance to the Lord who is to be loved in all.  >>Back<<

Tom Meulemans, O.Praem.
Editor's Page

John Cardinal Foley

The last time I talked face-to-face with Philadelphia's first native son to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal [1], was briefly during the reception following his consecration as archbishop in 1984.  Since then we have only exchanged Christmas cards and short notes.  But from the sixties through the early eighties we frequently found ourselves in each other's company.

One of the early years I taught at Bishop Neumann high school in Philadelphia, John[2] called me.  He was learning the workings of the local metropolitan Catholic news weekly - of which he would eventually become editor - and called to find out what was going on in the Catholic Speech and Debate League - to write a story on the subject.  I learned later (from others) that he'd been a national champion debater himself in his pre-seminary days.[3]

Not too long after ordination, he was sent to Rome for the duration of Vatican II - from where he filed six articles a week for the archdiocesan newspaper.  Later he (sometimes simultaneously) worked in a center city parish, taught theology and coached speech/debate at a large diocesan high school, and was frequently the "Catholic representative" on such TV/radio programs as "Ask the Clergy."   Sometimes I substituted for him in the latter category, and during this period I saw him almost weekly at speech and debate contests.  

He became editor of the Philadelphia Catholic Standard and Times in 1970.  Shortly afterwards he joined me on the Board of Trustees of the area chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.  Many of the 50-60 board members were politicians (including a former mayor), heads of firms, banks, utilities, colleges, funds, media outlets, or companies - and largely men of high prestige, power, wealth... The members drawn from Catholic, Protestant and Jewish clergy must have been chosen for other reasons.

Some years later he was asked if he would be willing to be the featured speaker at the annual awards banquet for some 500+ speech and debate students and their families - at one of the large catering halls in northeast Philadelphia.  He was willing, and the date was agreeable.  How long should the talk be?  Around ten minutes.

The night of the banquet I had my stop watch with me (for another purpose).  Those of us planning the event were sure that Father Foley's speech would be very close to exactly 10-minutes.  And he took precisely ten minutes - on my stop watch.  He was also very clear[4], concise, focused and concrete; very articulate, with excellent eye contact and directness with his audience.  His theme came from the League's catch phrase: toward articulate Catholic/catholic leadership! - and his speech, like his 23 years in Rome heading the Pontifical Council for Social Communication[5] excellently exemplified that aphorism in practice.  

This Norbertine Communicator

Don Kommers, like Cardinal Foley, debated in high school.  Some of Don's later accomplishments are listed at the end of the commencement address he presented last spring to those graduating from St. Norbert College.  What he has to say about the college is laudatory, insightful, and useful for Norbertine educators.

Andy Ciferni's reflection picks up from where the Kommers' address ends:  how do we more exactly and usefully define who we are - and what we are/should be about.  Also recommended are two spirituality essays, two historical items, and three travel (learning experience) articles.  

And have a blessed Christmas!  >>Back<<


1.  He was one of two U.S. clerics thus elevated (along with 21 from other parts of the world) this November 24th.

2.  He was ordained to the priesthood May 19, 1962.

3.  I learned (again from others) that he graduated at the head of his class in grade school, high school, and college.  At St. Joseph College (now University) he graduated summa cum laude and was the president of the student body.  

4.  He always carefully enunciates all three (not just two) syllables of words like "Catholic" and "forensic" without being pedantic about it.

5.  Cardinal Foley is the commentator for the English language telecasts of Masses and ceremonies from St. Peter's Basilica - for instance on Christmas Eve.  These are usually carried on the NBC network in the U.S.

Francis W. Dorff, O.Praem.[1]
De Pere / Albuquerque
Oh no.
He’s calling me forth again.
Why can’t he leave me alone?
It’s all over now.
The tears are shed.
The tomb is sealed
And death has had its way.
Now I’m on my way to Abraham.
Why can’t he leave me alone?
Yet how good it is to hear his voice....
How it hurts me to hear him cry....
What power stirs within his prayer...
it flows right through that stone
and warms these bones
with the life-giving love
that we have known
and shared together.
And things were changed.
And we were changed.
And all was changed.
Yes, Lord.
I’m coming.


1.  Fr. Dorff was born (1934) in Philadelphia, vested as a De Pere Norbertine in 1952, and ordained in 1960. After graduate studies in Rome and Paris, he was awarded his S.T.D. in 1965. Since, he’s engaged in a great variety of educational, leadership, counseling, writing, and related ministries.  (Editor’s note).

2.  From the “Ordinary” section of Fr. Dorff’s book Last Night I Died: Poems from Retirement, p. 134. Reprinted with author’s permission. (Editor’s note).

St. John Baptist de la Salle
Founder of the Brothers of Christian Schools[1]

June 6th -- St. Norbert[2]

132.1 First Point

St. Norbert was brought up from his youth at the Emperor’s court. However, he was specially favored by grace, and felt himself touched by the extraordinary movement of the Spirit of God. Leaving the court, he withdrew entirely from the world in order to enter the ecclesiastical state. There, he devoted himself to preaching, even more by his example than by his words. Because of this, his preaching was very effective and won many persons to God.

Since you are obliged by your state to instruct children, you must be powerfully motivated by the Christian spirit in order to procure this spirit for them. Your conduct must be edifying so that you are able to be a model for those whom you are charged to teach. They should be able to learn from your recollection the self control they themselves should practice. They should see in your wisdom how they should behave. Your piety should be a guide for them to follow in church during prayers.

132.2 Second Point

The Spirit of God which inspired this Saint led him to give up the income he was receiving from his ecclesiastical position, to sell his inheritance, and give the proceeds to the poor. He also led an extremely austere life. With a few companions whom he had chosen, he went about preaching from town to town and from village to village, as the 72 disciples of Jesus Christ had done. They all, like him, lived lives of great austerity and bodily mortification; they went about barefoot, ate but once a day, and observed perpetual abstinence. The sum of their exercises were to obey, to devote themselves to prayer, to mortify themselves, and to preach the holy Gospel. Thus it was that St. Norbert formed his Order and that it had a great number of religious who did very good in the Church.

You have a purpose that strongly resembles what this Saint had in mind in founding his Order, which was to teach the truths of the Gospel to the poor. So, make use of the same means he used to succeed in this task, namely, prayer and mortification.

132.3 Third Point

The extraordinary fasting and the eminent virtues of St. Norbert led to his being chosen Bishop in spite of his reluctance. In this position he could not tolerate vice, and he denounced it boldly in all those who were scandalously abandoning themselves to its practice. On this account, some persons were offended and looked for a chance to kill him How true it is that the impious and the dissolute cannot tolerate anyone who opposes their disorderly lives.

St. Norbert escaped this danger and then fought a heretic who denied the reality of the Body of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and destroyed his error. Is not this the function of a Bishop, to oppose vice and to maintain the faith in its vigor and strength?

This is also what you cannot dispense yourself from doing, if you wish to fulfill well your ministry, to prevent students from abandoning themselves to vice and to dissolute conduct, and impress firmly and solidly on their minds the truths of our faith, which are the foundations of our religion.

Norbert (ca. 1080-1134) was born at Xanten, near Cologne, and brought up a member of the imperial court, where he lived a worldly life despite his ordination to the subdiaconate and his plans to become a priest. He was thrown from his horse one day in a thunderstorm and thereupon underwent a spiritual experience of conversion alluded to by de la Salle, which is sometimes compared to the conversion of St. Paul. He founded a monastery at Prémontré, near Soissons, and an Order of Canons Regular (Premonstratensians, or Norbertines, sometimes called White Canons from the color of their habit). Their purpose was to combine community life and the ministry of the priesthood. In 1126, he was made Archbishop of Magdeburg, and he helped St. Bernard correct the schism of the antipope of his day. He accompanied the true Pope, Innocent II, when in 1133, he returned to Rome.  >>Back<<


1.  This gem was discovered by Xavier Colavechio, O.Praem. (De Pere) during one of his travels in Europe.  He submitted it to the Commentator for "it should be of historical interest to the Order." (Editor's note)

2.  The following pages were written in French by St. John Baptist de la Salle for his Brothers of Christian Schools.  They are taken from a book, Méditationes Pour Les Dimanches et les Fêtes Principales de l'Année, written by the Saint, but published posthumously in 1731.  The English translation was made by Augustine Loez, FSC and Richard Arnandez, and published in 1994.  

Donald P. Kommers
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN USA
May 13, 2007 Commencement Speech St. Norbert College
De Pere, WI USA[1]

Bishop Zubik, Abbot Neville, President Hynes, Members of the Faculty and Board of Trustees, graduates and parents. I’m deeply honored for this opportunity to extend my congratulations to the graduates of 2007 and a warm welcome to your parents, families and friends.

I should tell you that for me, this is also a kind of homecoming. I was born in Green Bay, grew up in a small town thirty miles south of here, and spent four years on this campus as a student of St. Norbert High School, which at the time occupied the top two floors of Boyle Hall, a stone’s throw from here. As a boarding student, I was privileged not only to live and study under the tutelage of the Norbertines, but also to attend high school on a college campus where all of its facilities, including the library, laboratories, and faculty members, were at my disposal. Although I went East to college and have resided in other states and countries for the last 47 years, I remain a Wisconsinite to the bone but more importantly the Norbertine spirit runs through my veins, for which reason I’m delighted to be here today.

When President Hynes invited me to deliver this address, I accepted immediately and enthusiastically, but then wondered what I should say and what advice I might give you on this auspicious occasion. As an academician, I have heard scores of commencement addresses over the years, most of which have been consigned to the limbo of oblivion, or worse, to the hell of boredom, and that includes no less than President Eisenhower’s address to my graduating class of 1954. I thought I might try humor, like suggesting that as you enter life’s journey to keep in mind what air force instructors tell their student pilots, namely, “always to make sure the number of your landings equal the number of your takeoffs,” but I knew this strategy would land me flat on my face. Alternatively, drawing on my own professional background, and in a more serious vein, I might have offered a set of reflections on some substantive issue such as German-American diplomacy in the post 9/11 world, the constitutional presidency and the war powers, or the role of religion in American public life, but this would not do because the length of such a speech would have induced groans from this audience, not to mention that President Hynes said he would blow the whistle on me if I talked longer than twelve minutes. Finally, I thought of doing what most commencement speakers do, namely to applaud your achievements, bolster your self-confidence, exhort you to change a broken world, or say something about the lessons I’ve learned – and which you might take to heart – for leading productive and satisfying lives. As for instructing you in the lessons of life, my competence is probably all too limited. I cannot tell you how to succeed in the business world. After all, I’ve never had to meet a payroll, as the saying goes. Except for two years in the United States Marine Corps, I’ve spent my entire adult life in universities or research institutes, here and abroad. Having observed, studied, and written about law, politics, and government for much of my life, I’d feel more at ease speaking about the responsibilities of citizenship or the need for moral vision and renewal in various phases of American life and law.

But I’m going to resist this temptation, too. What I would like to do instead, in the minutes remaining, is to say a few words about this college and what you have received here. I do so because what you have received here will largely determine what you can give back to your local communities, your chosen professions, your country and – no less importantly – your church. You are now part of this college, just as this college is now a part of you. It’s an identity that for each of you should be a source of immense pride, and I’ll tell you why in a moment. But first I want to remind you that the biography of this place is a remarkable odyssey in American higher education. Consider: Fr. Bernard Pennings – later Abbot – founded this college in 1898, starting with an astronomically  high enrollment of two students, both training for the priesthood. The college enrolled 18 students in 1902. The number rose to a modest 58 in 1907, exactly 100 years ago. A decade later, in 1918, he wrote a letter to his brother in Holland boasting of a college that now housed 150 students along with “three cows, 70 chickens, three cats, and a fine dog.

Fr. Pennings’s correspondence during these early years reveals the agonies of growth and financial difficulties through which the college was passing. He complained bitterly about the high cost of flour, potatoes, coal, and building materials. In the same year, 1918, he had to shut down the college four weeks before the normal end of the Spring semester for lack of money to feed and house its students. Needless to say, the Canons Regular of Premontre who taught here received no compensation for their labor except the satisfaction of knowing that they were on the threshold of building something special in this state and region of the country. Speaking of the Norbertines, we should never forget, in the midst of the college’s current prosperity and lay leadership, that their blood is in the bricks of this place. What a model of leadership they provide us with today. Pennings  in particular teaches each of us what one person of vision and faith can accomplish on this side of eternity.

What was truly remarkable about the college in its infancy was its elevated academic curriculum. It was built not only on theology and moral philosophy, but also on the classics of Greek and Roman literature, including their representation in music and the arts, a Norbertine tradition, incidentally, that continues to this day. The classics were privileged because they were considered useful alike for students both of theology and business. Yes, business students. St. Norbert College offered several commercial courses, as they were then called, to accommodate the interests of a rising class of builders, growers, and other entrepreneurs. The curriculum represented a perfect blend of the classical and the vocational, of repose and movement, of contemplation and action. These combinations were no accident. They reflected – and continue to reflect – a Norbertine tradition of learning, prayer, and community service.

Now fast-forward to the present. What we see here today on this campus is an amazing success story. The physical plant alone inspires awe. Six buildings graced these acres when I left in 1950; today, by my count, there are no fewer than thirty-five, a reality that might even have surprised Abbot Pennings. But buildings alone do not make a college. The real worth of this place is in the quality of its students, its faculty, and its curriculum – and here the standards are those of excellence. U.S. News and World Report recently ranked this institution in the top five of 170 mid-western liberal arts colleges, a notable tribute, it needs saying, to the vision of your faculty and the leadership of your president. But high rankings fail to capture the magic of this place or how it differs from other colleges with which St. Norbert has been compared. To begin with, this college is cut to human scale. What makes this college a real community is that most of you know one another. But you also know your professors and they have come to know you, inside and outside the classroom, all of which makes a college of this size and reputation one of the best educational experiences in America. 

But there is more. Your curriculum, which I’ve closely examined, is in several ways distinctive. One is particularly impressed with its catholicity, by which I mean its universalism. Fex colleges of this size have globalized the curriculum as much as you have –  ranging from your Center for International Education to no fewer than ten study abroad programs. Equally impressive is a core curriculum that elevates the humanities while affirming their unity with the social and natural sciences. And while your education here has been profoundly humanistic, it has not ignored the practical and quantitative skills needed in an expanded world of finance, trade, and commerce. Even your ROTC program is unique because St. Norbert is the only college of its size – to my knowledge – in which the U.S. Army has approved the training of its officers.

St. Norbert College is special for yet another and more important reason. As your president has remarked, this college is the only one in the world to combine the liberal arts, Catholicism and the Norbertine tradition. Taken together, these legacies underscore the organic unity of reason and faith, for all three seek to discover and espouse the truth. In short, no less than an incarnational view of the world is preserved and perpetuated here. It is a view that elevates human dignity and equality and does so by affirming God’s presence in human affairs. You are truly blessed to be graduating from this institution, for you are leaving this college – we all hope – with an appreciation of life’s religious dimension, a respect for transcendental values and a quiet confidence in the compatibility of faith and reason. In short, you are more than equipped – intellectually and spiritually – with the capacity to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, good from bad, beauty from ugliness and the permanent from the ephemeral. It is this enviable power of moral discernment – lost to much of the world – that has put marrow in the bones and mettle in the spirits of St. Norbert graduates.

As I conclude, I want to share an embarrassing truth with you. My generation does not have much to be proud of. The generation ahead of me has been called the “greatest generation.” After all, its members won the good war, rebuilt Europe and established a foundation for international peace and security. But the world today is messier than when I graduated. In recent decades, we Americans have made unbelievable advances in science, technology, and cybernetics and on the social front we have made notable strides in race relations and gender equality. But I’m afraid we have left you with an America marked by corporate corruption, environmental degradation, the breakdown of the family, abominable crime rates, an increasing gap between rich and poor, a mounting cultural sleaziness and a corresponding lack of civility in our public life, not to mention the moral scandal that has plagued our own church – all signs, I dare say, of collapsing public and private morality, the erosion of shared values, an indifference to the common good and broad-based political irresponsibility,

But there is little doubt in my mind that because of your education here each of you has been empowered to do something about the condition of our civic and social life. I’m not going to tell you what your responsibilities are. Your education here has done that for you. All I can say is that we are counting on you to participate in a much-needed project of moral, social, cultural, political, and even religious renewal. The graduates of St. Norbert College are needed in each of these spheres. As Benedict XVI advised us recently in Deus Caritas Est, his moving encyclical letter on love and charity, “Building a just social and civil order ... is an essential task which every generation must take up anew.” Our hope is that your generation will respond accordingly – and please do not bequeath to the next generation the world you have inherited from us.

Finally, and above all, remember this: You need not be on the national stage to engage in the project of moral and civic renewal. In truth, it cannot be done from there. It will begin wherever you find yourself after today, whether in your professional community of law, medicine, ministry or teaching, in the world of banking, finance or trade, in your local community, in the voting booth, in your church, or even in your own home. This is where the project must begin. It must begin with the individual and in the spirit that inspired the founder of this college.

So once again my congratulations to each of you and your parents, your mothers in particular  on this day (Mother’s Day), who made it all possible.  >>Back<<

About Commencement Speaker Donald P. Kommers

Donald Kommers holds the Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Chair in Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and is also a member of Notre Dame’s law faculty. His M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also studied law. In 1998, he received an Honorary L.L.D. from Germany’s Heidelberg University.

Dr. Kommers has held many prestigious positions and received numerous fellowships throughout his distinguished career. He has been a resident scholar in Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow on the law faculty of Cologne University (Germany), a Max Planck Society Fellow in the Max Planck Institute of International and Comparative Public Law in Heidelberg, a Fulbright lecturer at the University of Tokyo in Japan, and the winner of the Alexander von Humboldt Prize for senior U.S. scholars.

He has also received major grants and senior fellowships from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Between 1980 and 1982 he served as an advisor to President Carter’s Commission on the Holocaust, and in 1991 he was co-winner of the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award for an article on privacy published in “The World and I” (September 1990).

With more than 100 major publications to his name, Kommers is highly regarded by both legal scholars and political scientists.  >>Back<<


1.  Source:  text supplied by the author and used here with his permission (Editor's note)

Andrew D. Ciferni, O.Praem.
Some Reflections on
What Distinguishes the Norbertines
Premonstratensian Charism
at the Dawn of the 21st Century[1]

Editor’s notes:

(1) Andrew shares these thoughts with us all – hoping for our discussion and feedback to him and/or other members of the committee. (2) The editor has made minor changes in Andrew’s original text (e.g., adding “St. Norbert” before his first mention of “College”) to help clarify concepts for those of us who weren’t participants in the original meeting.

Second version[2]

Within the last year a group of Norbertines connected with St Norbert College met with Dean Marsden and Professor Duquette (Philosophy) around matters touching on the Catholic and Norbertine identity of the College. Professor Duquette opined that the Norbertine charism seems to come down to “exemplification.” He seemed to imply that there was no other specific articulation of our charism-mission than our potential for exemplifying Catholic Christian values and virtues. Last Spring The Archmerean published for the Delaware school’s parents, alumni, and benefactors a summary of a dissertation written by the then admissions director of the Academy. In that summary we read:

“An inherent problem in being able to preserve the Norbertine identity lies in the fact that it appears largely intangible. Mottos and creeds are not prominent, even among the Norbertines interviewed. Rather, it appears that the Norbertine tradition, while espousing certain Catholic values, has been largely left open to individual interpretation in the Archmere community and has relied upon what the study labels Norbertine presentism to define itself. Presentism is defined as the intangible dissemination of Christian and educational values by the very presence of the priests rather than by some explicit intentional transmission.”[3]

Apparently we have been unsuccessful in communicating to our colleagues and students the particular nature of our call. On the other hand, as I hope to point out below, exemplification and “presentism” are, in fact, key elements of Norbertine charism about which we should have no embarrassment but should rather embrace more explicitly.

Before attempting to articulate what I believe may be a specific and clear Norbertine charism-mission at St. Norbert College and Archmere Academy, allow me to address some of the premises represented by Duquette and Hickey. 

1) Because we have not been as explicit as we could have been and can be, does not mean that we have no clear articulation of charism-mission.

2) The call for the Norbertines “to step up to the plate”[4] in defining the particularity of their vocation should indeed call from us some soul-searching about how we have failed to be clear about our call both in word and example (docere verbo et exemplo)[5].

3) The present challenge for us to articulate our vocation provides a unique opportunity for us to both mine our tradition (ressourcement) and be more consciously aware of the gifts and blessings at hand to expand and deepen our call in our times (aggiornamento).

Our tradition is not our sole spiritual resource. Our culture(s) present not only new challenges but also new possibilities. The tension created by returning to one’s roots while simultaneously seeking evangelical inculturation, I suggest, accounts for no small amount of the confusion that has marked Catholic life since the early sixties to the present.

4) We need to become perhaps painfully self-conscious in examining our individual experience as members of the culture(s) into which we were born and now participate in for therein we may well discover our past and present resistance to what in the Norbertine tradition challenged our past and continues to challenge our present praxis. Our failure to live docere verbo et exemplo may be a bigger block to our clearly communicating our charism than any failure of verbal articulation.[6]

Below is the new Mission-Vision Statement of the Order approved and accepted by the General Chapter 2006.

Mission-Vision Statement of the Order of Prémontré

Drawn by our merciful and Triune God,
we are called as baptized
to follow the poor and risen Christ
in a radical and apostolic way of life
according to the Gospel, the Rule of Saint Augustine
and the charism of Saint Norbert,
the founder of our Premonstratensian Order.
Our way of life is marked by:
a lifelong seeking after God through fraternal community,
a never-ending conversion by giving ourselves to the church
of our profession in communion with the self-emptying of Christ,
in imitation of Mary pondering God’s Word,
and in ceaseless prayer and service at the altar.
From the choir and altar we go to serve the human family
in a spirit of simplicity, hospitality, reconciliation and peace
for the benefit of the Church and the world,
especially where Christ is found among the poor, the suffering,
and among those who do not know him.
We pray that what God’s Spirit has begun in us
may be made perfect in the day of Christ Jesus.

Features of the Canons Regular of Prémontré:

Following again the model of the Dulles article, I list what I believe are our Norbertine features (principal marks of our particular charism). Under each in italics are lines from the Mission-Vision Statement. Then in bulleted paragraphs (in this color) are some initial thoughts/comments that I think might be expanded through more serious study, reflection and discussion. The last sentence in the box (in italics) is a question that might serve ongoing discussion of this important topic.

1. Lifelong Conversion in and through Stability to a local church

- a lifelong seeking after God

- by giving ourselves to the church of our profession

On the other hand this kind of stability tends to create an environment in which Norbertines are more available to more people over a longer preiod of time than is the case among members of more modern orders.

Stability also makes of abbeys centers for cultural development, e.g., medieval agronomy, scriptoria, baroque libraries, nineteenth century natural history collections, twentieth century schools, perennial centers for the collection of art and the training of artists, and centers for music.

What evidence is there for this among us?

2. Contemplative Integration

- in imitation of Mary pondering God’s Word,

In our educational apostolate, as in all our ministries beginning with our common life and prayer, we are calle3d to form people into a "contemplative capability".

This constitutive contemplative dimension of our life and the centrality of liturgical prayer also create among us a high prioritization for aesthetics (magnificent churches, libraries, refectories and other public spaces, etc.)

Can we share personal experience of this reality?

3. Worship and Pastoral Care

- in ceaseless prayer and service at the altar.                    

- from the choir and altar we go to serve the human family

Can we bear personal witness to this through individual narratives?

4. Communio

- drawn by our merciful and Triune God, we are called as baptized

A particular manifestation of Norbertine communio for the life of an educational institution is our international character that holds potential for mutual support and assistance.

Can we explain the difference between communio, community, common life and camaraderie to others?

5. Collaboration

- a lifelong seeking after God through fraternal community

Our corporate leadership in prayer (concelebrated Eucharist and commitment to daily celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in medio populi) might well be the most distinguishing mark of a school shaped by Norbertine charism rather than by another.

At the same time, because of Vatican II's common call to holiness, our contemporary diminishment (aging and lack of vocations) may be seen as providing an opportunity for the retrieval of an original vision of laity in communion with our canonries that was not possible in the past.   

How do we understand this and see it operative among us?  What are the challenges in it?

6. Hospitality

- in a spirit of simplicity, hospitality, reconciliation and peace

How does this become operative in a school setting?

7. Shaping a Culture in Dialogue with Other Cultures

- in a spirit of simplicity, hospitality, reconciliation and peace

-  for the benefit of the Church and the world

Because Norbertines vow themselves to lifelong conversion in one place they tend to create an abbey culture that then shapes a school culture and which has a strong impact on local culture.  This setting down of deep roots for centuries traditionally makes Norbertine abbeys great repositories of the material culture of a region, centers for the development of agriculture, learning centers, and now more than ever, centers for spirituality.

In the last analysis, I believe, it is not what particular characteristics ("features") a community can list as shaping its particular charism, but how virtues and values held by all Catholics are worked together to express and shape a particular culture.

The challenge is to define and live Norbertine Ecology at St. Norbert College.

Is this already happening?  If so, where and how?  Where does it need the most attention?



1.  This title is consciously borrowed from Cardinal Avery Dulles' recent article, "What Distinguishes Jesuits?  The Ignatian charism at the dawn of the 21st century," America, January 15-22, 2007, 20-25.

2.  This piece was written for the Norbertine focus group that met at St. Norbert Abbey under the auspices of the Mission and Heritage Office of St. Norbert College.  It was rewritten in the light of that focus group's discussion.  Participants in the discussion were Norbertines T. J. Antry, A. D. Ciferni, A. Cribben, S. Cuccia, R. Finnegan, J. Herring, S. Jadin, T. Lauerman, A. McBride, D. McElroy, D. Noel, J. Tremel, and Dr. William Hyland, Director of the Center for Norbertine Studies at SNC.

3.  "Religion, Heritage and Today, Catholic School" The Archmerean LXVI (Spring-Summer 2006), 18-19. This article is a summary of Dr. Hickey's dissertation, Identifying and Maintaining Religious Heritage Amidst Conflict and Diminishing Religious Presence in a Catholic High School.

4.  Quote from a SNC administrator.

5.  The summary phrase from Carolyn Walker Bynum's book of the same title concerning the characteristic of the spirituality of 12th century canons regular.

6.  The conversation of tradition, culture and reflection on individual experience comes from the method of theological reflection developed by James and Evelyn Whitehead in Method in Ministry.  

7.  Abbot Jos Wouters of Averbode writes on canons regular and education in his recent talk at the 50th anniversary of Averbode's school in Brasschaat. "Reguliere kanunniken en het onderwijs," Averbode 34:4 (Dec 2006), 20-25

8.  Ed Foley, "Eucharistic Praxis in Ecological Perspective:  A Capuchin Look," Review for Religious (July - August 2001), 342-364.

John L. Bostwick, O.Praem.
De Pere
“Changed from
Glory into Glory”[1]

Author’s note: This article is taken from the book "Becoming Divine: Essays on Theosis in Honor of Father Alexander Men" edited by Bishop Seraphim Sigrist. This particular piece was written in response to talks given at this symposium in honor of Fr. Men held on July 24, 2007 in New York City.

Dainin Katagiri Roshi,[2] the founding abbot of the Minnesota Zen Center offered this illustration in a discussion of institutional religion: it is like being given a set of wooden sticks.  One can take those sticks and build a cage. A cage, of course, is meant to confine, to set limits, to protect, perhaps. Someone else could take those same sticks and build a trellis. A trellis is a structure that supports, that lifts up and allows the plant to be exposed to sun and rain, the elements that nurture it and allow it to grow. Some folks experience religion as a cage – rigid confining, restrictive; others experience religion as a structure that supports, allows for nourishment, growth and freedom.  What's the difference? The basic building blocks are the same. The difference is in the attitude of the person. The person can choose to create something that restricts and binds or to create something that supports growth and freedom.  

So, what's with quoting a Buddhist teacher in a reflection on theosis? My comments are just that: a reflection written some weeks after listening to some wise and scholarly thoughts on the topic of theosis. I have pondered what I heard that sultry evening in New York City, July 24, 2007, at St Mary Magdalen Orthodox Church, reflecting on them in my heart, and trying to make sense of my initial response.

The Christian person - the human person, really - receives the gift of an incredibly rich tradition of faith, a tradition of such breadth and depth that is very hard to take it all in and to appreciate the wonder of what is handed on. The various strains of Christian tradition don't often showcase the whole tradition in its full beauty. Rather, they emphasis this or that dimension and the most of us receive a partial and limited experience of Christian faith and life.

To pick up on Katagiri Roshi's image. We receive a body of tradition, often enough somewhat incomplete, and we have to make something of it. What is it that claims our attention?  Where do we place the emphasis? What are the consequences? There is the objective reality of Christian faith. The Tradition. The Truth. And there is our perception of it. Listening to the talks given at the First (Annual) Fr Men Lecture broadened and enlivened my perception in a way that animated a sense of hope, of humility, freedom and joy.


The Christian life is as much about process as it is about event. Last February there was a bit of tension in my class between a student and me. "Pat" was from a Baptist background, a good, faithful Christian. He took exception to a point I made in class that "salvation" is not simply achieved by a discrete act or event such as "accepting Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior" or even such an event as being baptized. I suggested that while there are indeed special moments for many, salvation is a process, that even with such an event as "being saved" or being baptized, life is not static. One has to continue to live and grow into the Christian life. Conversion is a lifelong process of growth into Christ. Someone told the story about an evangelist approaching her on the street and asking, "Are you saved?" How would we respond? My most honest response would be "I am being saved." It is a process! But in the interests of real honesty, I'd have to confess that I'd probably dodge the question entirely, rather than get caught up in a theological debate on a street comer!  By the end of the semester, Pat and I found ourselves agreeing; he came to appreciate the dynamic reality of the Christians life and the ongoing nature of conversion.

Both "conversion" and "theosis" reflect hope. They both are about transformation and growth. Both are dynamic rather than static. Both are ways of describing the Christian life; in a way, both are drawing from the same human experience as "raw material." Yet there is a significantly different emphasis or focus. The implicit message of conversion seems to focus on human activity, on our turning away from sin and turning towards Christ, our letting go on one way of life and embracing another, our leaving behind one mindset and acquiring a new way of thinking.  Conversion is about becoming holy, but it seems to be primarily from the human perspective.

"Theosis" suggests also a dynamic movement of transformation and growth in holiness, but with an emphasis of what God is doing in Christ in human lives. While the person is not passive in the process, theosis highlights the divine action of grace within the human person and the human community.

For me, conversion emphasizes moral change and highlights sin even in our turning away from it. Theosis seems to move beyond morality in an ongoing transformation which is future oriented that, while not denying the reality of sin, transcends it to focus on the goal: becoming holy as God is holy.

It is the vibrant, dynamic, positive and God-focused emphasis of theosis that carries a dominant sense of hope in a way that seems more alive than the conversion model alone. Both share some of the same qualities: process, growth and, ultimately, hope. Yet I think the God-focused model of Theosis is less ambiguous and more energizing as it continually draws the human person forward.


There are two ways in which the discussions of theosis evoke an awareness of humility and both of these are, of course, positive. The first and fundamental one is the inherent focus on God and God's action in human life. The human person and especially the human individual is not the center of the universe. First, God is both beginning and end, origin and goal of existence. Humans are accustomed to think of self as center. This can be a source of unhealthy pride; it can also be a great burden. That salvation is God's work, indeed, with our cooperation and openness, but God's work nonetheless, frees us from the burden. Theosis, salvation as a work of grace, frees us to receive God's gift and to grow into it. There is a synergy here that acknowledges the first place of God and frees us to be human but also invites us into a partnership with God in His work.

The distinction between "person" and "individual" is important. The "person" is person-in communion. "Individual" is self-in-isolation. I would suggest that this state of being in isolation is a way of describing hell. The human person is created for communion, for being in relationship.  Our identity - even "my own" identity is found in relationship to God, to other people, to creation.  That "I" am not complete in myself, but rather find my “self” in communion should evoke a healthy - and grateful - sense of humility.

One of the themes, a central theme of the reflections given last July, was to reflect on theosis in a context larger that simply the individual human person, to expand the context to a larger social, even a cosmic reality. This too would free humanity from bearing the burden of the whole of creation and integrate humanity into relationship, into community, into the whole created order.  This is a corrective to a distorted sense of self, a distorted sense of religion, a distorted understanding of how human beings relate to the world around us.

Our times demand a shift away from a truly untraditional "Jesus and me" sense of the spiritual life. One of the ancient Fathers[3] said "solus Christianus, nullus Christianus" - a Christian alone is no Christian. The focus on an individualized, isolated relationship with God is a distortion.  While our spiritual life may indeed be deeply personal, it is not privatized or simply individual.  Human beings, after all, are social beings. There must be an awareness of the larger community, beyond even family or friends or church, but the human community. There will be awareness especially of the weakest or most vulnerable of human sisters and brothers. The most alive of the renewal movements promote this kind of integration into the larger network of human relationship.  I'm thinking here of groups like Taize, Sant Egidio, the Catholic Worker movement and many others.

The environmental crisis calls us to a broader vision of how humans relate to the big picture of the earth and the cosmos. The simple shift from seeing our task in relationship to the world as stewards and caretakers rather than agents of domination and exploitation places us in a more healthy and God-pleasing position. This shift is also an act of humility - not in the sense of self-abasement, but rather in accepting the truth about the place of humans in the created order as an integral part of a larger reality, indeed with a special vocation and a unique relation to God, yet in relation to the whole of creation for which we bear responsibility.


A God-centered hope and the sense of right-relation which is humility yields the gift of freedom. When we realize that God is fundamentally for us, that Jesus Christ is God's unambiguous "Yes!" to humanity,[4] that God is indeed "the Lover of humanity," we become free, free of the burden of sinfulness, free of the obligation to save ourselves. We become free to say "Amen" to God's "Yes," free to embrace the gift of life, of wholeness, of holiness that God offers.

The eighth chapter of the Letter to the Romans is a bold hymn in praise of the life giving freedom that God is working within us, a freedom from condemnation provided by life in the Spirit of Jesus;[5] a freedom that allows us to recognize and name God “Abba;”[6] a recognition that the inward struggle is both real and life-giving, a positive, creative entry into the freedom of the children of God.[7]  We can be free of condemnation, free of fear and free for life in the Spirit of God - free for holiness because of the love of God in Jesus Christ.[8]

I have never found the "sinners in the hands of an angry God" approach to be terribly motivating. The Catholic version can be found in the retreat conference on "Hell" in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The vivid images inspire terror rather than awe. One wonders what these horrific images have to do with love, whether the love of God for us or our love for God.  Theosis is about God's loving self-gift in Jesus Christ whose humanity invites us and gives us the freedom to share the divine holiness.


I left the symposium that hot July night with profound sense of joy. There was the joy of an evening well spent among fine people and the joy of hearing words of wisdom, thoughtful words, challenging words. The joy of that event would last for a time, but there was a deeper joy embracing me that night, the joy of knowing the power and possibility of God's love for creation, for humanity, God's love even for me. The articulation of theosis, God's invitation and desire that we share by grace the holiness that is God's by nature, is a proclamation of renewal and restoration for it is a restoration of what creation was intended to be according to God's originating vision. It is wholly positive –  not pretending that sin and evil do not exist, but moving beyond them to what, please God, will be.

The text of the Charles Wesley hymn recognizes both the original and the future glory –  "changed from glory into glory," transformation not only of humanity but also of creation in the fulfillment of God's plan, so that God might be "all in all."[9]

Fr. Alexander Schmemann famously wrote that the most damning critique of Christianity was Nietzsche's claim that Christians had no joy. Yet Christianity is from the very beginning the proclamation of joy.[10]   Joy marks the beginning of the Gospel in Christ's birth and the end of the Gospel in His Resurrection. Joy marks the beginning of the Biblical story in the Creation and the restoration of Creation in the heavenly Jerusalem. Joy is the beginning and end of our life in Christ, where we will be "lost in wonder, love and praise."[11]  >>Back<<


Editor’s note:  John L. Bostwick, O.Praem., a native of Cleveland, Ohio, was vested in 1964 and ordained in 1976. Prior to his present assignment as an adjunct instructor of religious studies at St. Norbert College, De Pere, he taught on the secondary school level especially in Green Bay, WI and attended numerous schools, institutes, and programs to enhance his graduate degree in theology. John has also served his community in such positions as the Abbot’s council and house superior and is a former De Pere Communicator correspondent.  


1.  Charles Wesley, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" verse 3. Worship (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1986) no. 588.

2.  This illustration was given in a lecture, which was taped.  While I no longer have access to the tape, this is how I remember it - not as an exact quote, but, as I recall it, the "spirit" of Katagiri Roshi's statement.

3.  Tertullian

4.  2 Cor 1:19-20

5  Romans 8:1ff

6.  Romans 8:15

7.  Romans 8:18-26

8.  Romans 8:31-39

9.  1 Cor 15:28

10.  Alexander Schmemann.  For the Life of the World (Crestwood: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1973.) p. 23

11.  Charles Wesley, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling" Worship Hymnal (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1986) no. 588, verse 3

Andrew H. Smith, O.Praem.
Storrington Priory
125 Years of Life

On the Solemnity of Our Lady of England, 24th September 2007, a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated in the Priory Church to mark 125 years of Norbertine Community Life in Storrington. The Principal Celebrant was the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, assisted by Bishop Kieran Conry, our Local Ordinary, together with the Prior and Community plus invited priests and deacons of our Diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

To understand the “why” of a community in Storrington it is necessary to look at the difficulties of the Church in post-revolution France when the Concordat of 1801 did not mention religious institutes because the French government (of The First Consul - Bonaparte) thought them to be undesirable and the Holy See did not wish to push the issue. The only exceptions were institutes devoted to seminary formation, priests who were members of foreign mission societies, who were useful for spreading French influence overseas and the Trappists, because they lived apart from the world. However religious communities did return to France, often being privately encouraged by the Pope of the day to be re-established. Around 1850 foundations began to multiply even though the law remained unchanged and Pope Pius IX invited Father Edmond Boulbon to restore the Norbertines in a land which once knew the great Abbey of Premontre and 91 other Premonstratensian Abbeys.

Aged 18 years John Baptist Boulbon entered the Trappist Cistercian Abbey at Amiens which had been founded by St. Bernard and where he was given the religious name of Edmond. After his ordination in 1843 the abbey community had to move premises and the abbot sought to purchase another and so Fr. Edmond, who had the gift of oratory, was asked to become a wandering fund-raising preacher. He was very successful so then he was sent to establish a monastery on the Island of Reunion, but opposition from government agents led to its failure. From there he spent eighteen months on St. Helena doing duty as the pastor. With much time on his hands to reflect Boulbon planned a new Cistercian community where magnificent liturgy might be celebrated. However his abbot told him his aims were not compatible with the customs of Citeaux and others advised him to restore the Primitive Observance of the Order of Premontre which would help him join the duties of monastic life with those of the clerical life.

In 1855 the Bishop of Soissons bought the abbey of Premontre intending it to be an agricultural orphanage and invited Fr. Edmond to restore the abbey and have pastoral care of the boys. The bishop clothed Fr. Edmond with the white habit on June 6th, 1856 and he began his work. However the crafty bishop had also been in touch with the superior of Tongerlo (not yet restored to abbey status) who with the abbot of Averbode decided to send a group of men to Premontre. These abbeys were growing in number but with little outlet for work since they were not allowed to resume the care of parishes. When the five Belgians arrived in August 1856 they found a habited Fr. Edmond claiming to belong to the Primitive Observance, which, of course, the Order no longer recognized. After, what must have been strong words, Boulbon left a few days later. The bishop, short of money to sustain his venture, closed the Priory the following year and the Belgians returned to their home abbeys. (In 1879 three confreres from Frigolet repopulated Premontre but the events of the following year saw its end.)

Edmond had left Premontre with a copy of the 1290 Statutes which he wished to follow. He was soon in Rome obtaining permission from Pope Pius IX to establish his Order. Whilst he was placed under the jurisdiction of the Local Ordinary, he was given permission to clothe and profess new entrants. In early April 1858 the saintly Cure of Ars told him to write to the Archbishop of Aix-en-Provence for admittance to his diocese and having bought the ancient Benedictine abbey of St. Michel de Frigolet he began living there by the end of the month. On July 11th (the old feastday of St. Norbert ) he made his profession to the archbishop. Recruits soon poured in and the community grew to thirty in twenty months. Soon he discovered an even more ancient set of order Statutes (said to be the work of Blessed Hugh) and so he adopted these for his community because they were more "primitive."

The community grew, became an abbey and made several foundations in France but trouble arrived in 1880 when the anti-clerical government decreed to dissolve all religious foundations that lacked state permission. Communities might apply for legal recognition but only a few cases were granted. Frigolet was not among them and so became a victim of the decree. From November third to seventh there was a celebrated siege of the abbey where many locals had joined the community to prevent the expulsion. However the dragoons broke in, expelled everyone except the abbot, the legal owner and a lay-brother. Boulbon resigned as abbot in March 1881 and died in an empty abbey two years later. Ironically, the community began to return later the same year (1883).

It was not until 1898 that, due to pressure from Rome, Boulbon's foundation actually joined the Norbertine Order – by decree of Pope Leo XIII. So ended the Congregation of France, as it was called and life began to be lived under the Order Statutes of 1630. An election for abbot resulted in a refusal to accept the office and so the Abbot General, in 1899, appointed one who led the merger preparations; however, he died after six months in office. So in 1899 the community elected the celebrated Prior of Mondaye Abbey, Fr. Godefroid Madelaine who had been confessor to Therese of Lisieux.

Meanwhile some of the community took up residence at Leffe in Belgium and later it was decided to send men to form a community at Storrington, a small Sussex village. Land had been provided by the Duke of Norfolk who lived in nearby Arundel. He had offered the site to several communities and eventually it was brought to the notice of the new abbot, Boniface Paulin by Roman based Cardinal Howard, a kinsman of the Duke and a friend of Frigolet. A committee had been established to help the expelled religious and they paid the expenses of Fr. Gonzaga Daras and four others to come to Storrington. They arrived on February 2nd. 1882. The Duke had only given land but not property and so the first community lived in a rented house in the village - the first Priory. They placed their new mission under the protection of Our Blessed Lady and called it Our Lady of England Priory: Notre Dame d'Angleterre.

First of all a school was built and then in 1885 a chapel. By this time the community had grown to fourteen. The lack of funds delayed the building of a new Priory till 1887 and in 1902 the cornerstone of the new stone Priory Church was laid. Funds ran out when the French government again persecuted religious and started seizing the abbey property, so the former Empress of the French, Eugenie, came to support the building project. It was completed in November 1904; it was blessed and opened by Abbot Madelaine of Frigolet who led the procession from the old to the new. The Mass was celebrated by Abbot Cabrol, the Benedictine abbot of Farnborough. The Storrington religious recruited Englishmen and were able to found a number of small Priories both in England and Scotland but all were short lived. One was at Farnborough where the Empress Eugenie lived and where she was founding an Abbey-Mausoleum for her husband and son. Napoleon III had died in exile in England and the Prince Imperial had died in South Africa as a serving officer in the British Army. She invited Storrington to found its first community but after a few years she invited them to leave –  according to rumor it was because its prior, Joseph Ibos, became a republican. Visitation records from those days forbade any contact between the houses, even by servants, without the express permission of the Abbot of Frigolet.

In the 1930's numbers dwindled and in 1940 the last member of the Frigolet community, Fr. Philip Beasley-Suffolk, died. Because of World War II he could not be replaced from Frigolet and so the pastoral care of the parish and the property was taken over by Norbertines from the north of the country. For some years the community consisted of one man! Some 10 years before the foundation of Storrington, in 1872, the Norbertines of Tongerlo Abbey in Belgium accepted an invitation to establish a mission to refound the order in England which before the Reformation had 32 abbeys and two convents in the country. A gentleman, Thomas Arthur Young, spent most of his wealth in re-establishing the church in rural Lincolnshire. He paid for the building of a Priory at Crowle whose first inhabitant was Fr. Martin Geudens, and later at Spalding in 1875. In 1898 Fr. Geudens moved to a new priory in, Miles Platting, Manchester which became the seat of the regular superior of the Tongerloenses in the country. He became a blessed titular abbot as did his two successors. These men had made a Priory foundation at Kilnacrott in Ireland to provide vocations for the English parishes but as the clamor for an Irish abbey grew it was decided by Tongerlo to purchase Storrington from Frigolet and establish it as an English novitiate. This happened in 1952 under abbot Emil Stalmans of Tongerlo who appointed its local Prior. Another development happened in 1962 when numbers had grown sufficiently for Storrington to become a Priory sui Iuris  its abbot founder being abbot Jodocus Boel who appointed the first Prelate and Prior de Regimine Fr. Gerebern Neill.

Numbers were high in the early independent days, but have since dropped. Sadly a division in the community about lifestyle in the 21st Century came to a head in 2002 when an election for a new Prelate caused a split which eventually led to the foundation of Corpus Christi Canonry in Miles Platting Manchester, which has recently moved to St. Chad's Parish in Cheetham Hill in the same city.

We are not proud of this tragic event and, at present, reconciliation seems nigh impossible but..... please God, you will read of a reconciliation in years to come. Meanwhile the Storrington Canonry consisting of a Prelate and three members, plus one in exclaustration, continues to live and work in this part of the Lord's vineyard. Indeed we have planted a small vineyard to show our determination to be here for years to come. Next month we will start to plant a woodland. We are praying for plans to be brought to fruition whereby funding for refurbishment of the Priory might be gained. We have recruited 24 lay associates and we continue to pray for vocations to the community. Many young people come to visit us and work along side us. We pray the Lord of the harvest may encourage them to join us – so that the Priory will celebrate 150 years and more anniversaries.  >>Back<<

Andrew J. McIlree
2006 Graduate of St. Norbert College, De Pere
Courageous Prayer
-or- How I Discovered
Ignatian Spirituality

I arrived at the University of Stirling in 2005 for study abroad craving Scotland’s warrior legends – stuff like Wallace’s sword, Bruce’s rugged statue at Bannockburn, and the haunting stillness of Culloden Moor. That was my idea of Scottish history, because that was how I viewed my Scots ancestry: fight the English, drink the whisky, chase the lasses and wear the kilt.

But a deeper look at Scotland’s history gave me a surprise. I found myself being drawn to the crumbling ruins of Scotland’s medieval abbeys and monasteries, the holy places with Celtic crosses covered in moss and mist. Most were torn apart during the Reformation, but the peaceful spirit of these quiet places seemed to be floating around me, unaware that nobody had been home for hundreds of years.

Unlike the battlefields and armor, I didn’t focus too much on the historical specifics of each holy place. What really caught me was the monks’ prayerful lifestyle, the idea that they only stopped praying to sleep. For their entire lives.

“How could someone do that and be happy?” I wondered. “Seriously?”

We like to think of medieval monks just sitting around, maybe bored, maybe sleepy, probably drunk, and for sure sexually deprived, wearing uncomfortable wool robes and eating tough bread and stale cheese.

I’m not so sure that’s true. The monks weren’t just mumbling Latin into the atmosphere, I realized, but rather meditating on God in order to open their minds to a more peaceful presence with the Spirit. And just like their warrior counterparts on the battlefield, monks needed an immense, radical courage to trust God in the sanctuary. I think most of them were probably happy and confident in their choice of lifestyle, because all of those prayers seemed to have soaked into the stones of the buildings, still echoing peaceful vibes, centuries later.

Now, living in the ruins of a North Philadelphia neighborhood torn apart by drugs, violence, and poverty, I crave that prayerful peace. Working with the homeless as a Jesuit Volunteer, I often worry about clients like Tony, blind because a hooker stole his glasses, or Jordan, who got beat up outside of a bar on Ridge Avenue for the thirty bucks in his pocket. I worry about them without praying about them, and so I forget that Christ is in us and helping us.

Without the spiritual safety of an abbey cloister, Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, seems to have expected that his followers might get disillusioned from time to time. So remembering his advice to “Find God in all Things,” – a simple statement which unites everything under God’s love – is what helps me find that courage for God, the ancient calm brought about through peaceful prayer. And just like Ignatius expected, his spiritual exercises are giving me that monastic peace in my homeless ministry. This radical dependence on God, which those medieval monks developed and the Jesuits adopted, is how I worry less and love more.  >>Back<<

Julie A. Friedman
Executive Secretary for Mission and Heritage
St. Norbert College, De Pere
European Heritage Tour
Brings Norbertine History to Life

“Ever Ancient, Ever New!” That phrase is more than just a tag line on the current Norbertine website. I witnessed several instances of how true the statement really is during the May 15-28, 2007 Norbertine European Heritage Tour.

Sponsored by the Office of Mission and Heritage at St. Norbert College, this modern-day tour of historic places gave faculty, staff, family members, alumni, Norbertine associates and friends a greater understanding of Norbert of Xanten and his early followers. It also showed how the Order continues to adapt and thrive in Europe despite the many challenges it faces.

In the old churches and abbeys that fell into disrepair under Communist rule, the remaining Norbertines in the Czech Republic continue to pray and minister to the people in their parishes as they work to preserve and restore what's left. It is an obvious struggle for them, but their persistence and their faith in the future of the Catholic Church and the Order is absolutely inspiring.

In Austria, the abbeys we visited were much better off financially and structurally more sound, but we didn’t see as many Norbertines as I expected. We learned that unlike the Norbertines here in the United States, many more of them are assigned as parish priests because that's a great need in their areas at this time.

I am not Catholic, but I've worked at the college for more than a decade so I was intrigued by this opportunity to learn more about its Catholic and Norbertine heritage. I felt it was especially important since I accepted a position in the Office of Mission and Heritage two years ago.

For 12 of the 23 participants, the tour was the culmination of "Cornerstones," a year-long seminar on the Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholic social teaching offered at the college for the first time in 2006-07. Developed by Fr. Jay Fostner, Vice President for Mission and Heritage, the seminar will now be offered annually.

I reasoned that going on this trip would help me learn more about the traditions I am helping to promote at the college in my daily work, and after seeing that the itinerary started in Prague I just knew I was destined to go.

As an Army photojournalist, I lived in Italy for two years in the mid-80s and moved freely throughout western and southern Europe. However, it was next to impossible for military personnel to travel through the "Iron Curtain" to Eastern Europe at that time. I was always curious about the Czech Republic because some of my ancestors came from Bohemia, so it was quite interesting for me to learn that Norbert is one of the patron saints of that region.

My husband and I are both retired from the military and have since returned to visit Europe several times, but we mostly gravitated to the places in Italy and Germany where we have old Army friends or former SNC (St. Norbert College) exchange students we've hosted over the years.

From my travels in many different foreign countries, I've found it's always a much better experience if you can stay with people who actually live there and can show you a side of the area that most tourists don't get to see. There is also a comfort factor in knowing that even when you venture out on your own, you have sort of a "home base" to operate from.

In the military it's a given that your door is always open to any old comrades who happen to be passing through. On this trip, I was privileged to be part of a group that witnessed and experienced this same kind of hospitality.

"Without exception, our group was met by Norbertine men and women who treated us with extravagant graciousness and welcomed us with joyful spirits," said Julie Massey, a 1989 graduate of the college who now serves as Director of Campus Ministry and the Program of Faith, Learning and Vocation.

At Strahov we met Fr. Francis Micek, the first of many new friends we would make on this trip. We packed a lot of activity into our short visit there, starting with Mass in the chapel where St. Norbert's tomb is located. The cathedral there is stunningly beautiful inside, as is the view overlooking Prague from the gardens outside.

However nothing drew more gasps of surprise and awe from everyone than our first glimpse of the great library. Felice Maciejewski, the Library Director at St. Norbert College, thought she had died and gone to heaven! This was just the first of many meticulously maintained libraries we would see on our tour.

Lunch at Strahov's restaurant and brewery was also the first of many wonderful meals we would share together as a group. Of course we wanted to give back to the Norbertines as much as possible, so many of us invested heavily in souvenirs from the gift shop there!

Our next stop was at Tepla, which was quite stark in contrast to the grandeur we saw at Strahov. Fr. Marianus Slunecko was a bit nervous at first, as it had been some time since there had been any English-speaking visitors there and his language skills were a bit rusty, but he quickly overcame his shyness as he shared with us the history of the abbey and the plans to restore it.

The confreres at Tepla are making some progress but given their distance from the central government in Prague and the fact that they don't have someone who can go there on a regular basis, the promised reparation money has been slow in coming. They still have much work to do in the abbey itself, but they have modernized an adjacent guest house that is a source of income for them now. During our visit it was being utilized by a large group of students who were there for a band camp.

Our next stop was at Zeliv, where we met Fr. Richard Stajniger and learned how important it is to be persistent. He shared with us several stories of how he is working to get stolen art and artifacts returned, in addition to his many trips to Prague to lobby the government for the money that was promised to the churches.

We stayed overnight at Zeliv, so after Vespers Fr. Richard and his confreres invited us into their refectory for a fabulous dinner and a lively conversation that continued well into the night. I think that night was also when our group really started to come together.


Fr. Richard Stajniger of the Norbertine Abbey of Zeliv in the Czech Republic 
leads members of last May’s “Norbertine Heritage Tour” around his abbey’s grounds. 
In the picture, a diligent observer may also catch sight of De Pere Norbertines 
Sal Cuccia and Xavier Colavechio, who escorted the group.

The tour also included a trip to visit the Norbertine sisters at Doksany. Since it was our last day in the Czech Republic, I and a few others opted to spend the day exploring more of Prague, but several of those who met the sisters tell me it was a highlight of the trip for them.

In Austria we had a day of sightseeing in Vienna, where we ran into a group of students from the St. Norbert College Wind Ensemble on a tour of Hungary and Austria!

After that it was on to meet Fr. Benedikt Felsinger for a guided tour of Geras Abbey and another very tasty, hearty lunch. I found this place especially fascinating because of its fish farm operation (carp is a delicacy there we learned!) and the extensive herb gardens. The Abbey also boasts a gift shop featuring all kinds of herbal teas and elixirs, so naturally we had to make a stop there before we left.

Our next overnight stay was at Schlägl, where we enjoyed wonderful accommodations in a renovated wing of the Abbey that now serves as a seminar center. With its on-site brewery and an awesome "Keller" restaurant, I would have to say that Schlägl was the gastronomical highlight of the trip for me.

The prior, Fr. Lukas Dikany, was an absolutely wonderful host, and his love of the Norbertine order shows in his enthusiasm for sharing its history with visitors. I was also impressed by this community's focus on the future, as evidenced by the sprawling activity center they run for the young people in the area.

Our last stop was at Wilten, where we met Fr. Patrick Busskamp. His church is in the midst of a three-year renovation project so we were unable to attend any services there, but he gave us a tour of the abbey and treated us to a wonderful lunch.

I think everyone was humbled by the generosity of spirit we encountered at each and every place we visited. This has already led to a much deeper feeling of community among the members of the group, and I believe the ripple effect is already being seen on campus.

Karlyn Crowley, Assistant Professor of English, said she was especially touched by the nuns at Doksany who are working to rebuild their beautiful convent. She feels she has a deeper sense of what the motto "To Teach by Word and Example" means after seeing so many Norbertines at work.

"I now have faces connected to that motto, and those faces bolster me to try to live out the motto for our students," she said.

Like her, I believe that if we all show the same hospitality to everyone we meet and maintain a sense of optimism and faith in the future, we truly are teaching by word and example.

The next Norbertine Heritage Tour, May 13-27, 2008, will include visits to abbeys in Germany, Belgium and France. The tour is limited to 25 participants.  >>Back<<


Jeremy R. Tobin, O.Praem.
De Pere / Jackson
A Much Needed
Movement of Hope

Recently 21 of us from Jackson, Mississippi were a delegation representing various religious denominations to visit Turkey and immerse ourselves in our own as well as others’ religious history. We were sponsored by the Institute for Interfaith Dialogue based in Texas with a representative in Jackson. My own background attracted me to this. As a Norbertine my formation was influenced by monastic customs and traditions. There is resonance between Muslim and monastic spirituality.

The Institute for Interfaith Dialogue is the inspiration of Fethullah Gulen – a Turkish Muslim scholar who has devoted his life to promote genuine tolerance based on acceptance of diversity. He has personally met with religious leaders worldwide including Pope John Paul II. He sees ignorance and poverty causing a distortion of true religion and promoting a fear of progress. He sees that lack of knowledge about Islam creates a fear that impedes our properly understanding terrorism. 

Gulen’s inspiration partly comes from Mevlana Rumi the 13th century Sufi mystic who saw love as the ground of true religion. Love of God translates into love of humanity, openness, and dialogue.

A more contemporary influence is the thought of Said Nursi (d.1960), who urged Muslims to love Christians. Nursi had his own movement encouraging Muslims to understand and accept religious diversity. Lastly Gulen saw Turkish Islam as a concrete model to create a vehicle to promote religious dialogue.

The Gulen-driven movement with its various expressions are a sure sign of hope for several reasons. 1) It is coming from within the mainstream Muslim community, not the West. 2) It is sincerely reaching out to understand the most authentic expressions of Christianity, Judaism, and other religions.  3) It sees religion as the force for healing or destruction – depending on its use. 4) It is categorically opposed to terrorism or violence, and any use of religion to justify that is sacrilege. 5) Only education on every level can end fear and create understanding and cooperation among all people for world peace.

Despite Muslims being in the News almost nightly in the US, we experienced entering a parallel universe as we began to understand perhaps the greatest expression of Muslim culture and thought in history. We in the West are almost illiterate in knowing anything about Islam or Muslim history.

On the other hand the Islamic world seems replete with different interpretations  driven by social and political realities giving rise to discord both within and outside the community. As this impacts upon non-Muslims, difficulties are only exacerbated by their lack of  knowledge about Islam. Often what they get are written by opponents or those with special agendas.

Given recent history it is most hopeful and encouraging to be part of a movement designed and led by Muslims to create true dialogue and understanding among all religions. The Institute for Interfaith Dialogue brings together religious leaders and ordinary people sharing their faith in a spirit of understanding and acceptance.

We flew from Ankara to Urfa at the southeastern end of the Anatolian peninsula, ten miles from Syria, East of the Euphrates, 110 miles from the Iraq border. Here was Ur between the rivers in the ancient Chaldee empire. Here was the cave where Abraham was born, another cave where Job lived for seven years healing from his infirmities, here is the tomb of Said Nursi (d.1960) who urged Muslims to love Christians. This is a major Muslim shrine. It is significant to Christians and Jews because all three of us claim Abraham as our father in faith. We were to learn more about Abraham.

There is a great castle at Urfa near the cave. There was a king, Nimrod who had it in for Abraham. Nearby he built a big bonfire, the wood was several stories high. He had a mighty catapult. He tied Abraham up to a mighty shaft, and prepared to launch him from the catapult. When the flames leaped high, he shot Abraham from the catapult. When Abraham touched the flames they turned to water, the whole area into a holy lake. The wood turned to fish, holy carp. All is present to this day. Paved areas and a mosque surrounds Abraham’s lake. We listened to this new story about Abraham, how despite Nimrod trying to keep him pagan, Abraham worshiped the One Holy God and would not be moved. We walked throughout the area and met Muslims and non Muslims from everywhere. We fed the holy carp, and chatted with the people.

A local man saw me walking by the cave looking very pleased. He said, “Do you know what that is?” I replied, “It is the Cave of Abraham. We were there this afternoon.” He said, “Where are you from?” I replied somewhat laconically, “America.” “Oh.” he said and looked straight ahead somewhat disappointed. I was waiting for this moment. I said, “Hey! Bush! Bush!” and did a big thumbs down. He looked at me and smiled. His 25 words in English were no barrier. “Bush! Bush!” he said, doing thumbs down, then laughing. We both laughed like kids and shook hands. He went away chuckling.

When we arrived at Abraham’s cave we first went to the mosque, where our guide told us the story of Abraham that was new to us. It began to rain lightly, and we were gathered at one end of the prayer hall, on beautiful carpet listening to Halil tell us about this place. Suddenly the muezzin gave the call for prayer. He said we would resume afterward.

Across the way I spied several plastic arm chairs, a couple with old men sitting on them praying their beads. I sat in one behind the old men. The women of our group, all properly coifed, were in the back, trying to be inconspicuous but looking, shall we say, a bit concerned.

I felt an atmosphere of prayer take over the place. Every negative thought I had about Muslims clanged in my head like little demons. “Throw the infidels  out! They will desecrate this place!” I forced that and other negative thoughts out from me forcefully. The scene before me did the rest. I discovered I was in a new home. Quietly, like monks in single file came the men, 10, 15, 25, 70, and they kept coming. Soon almost 150 men filled the place. Not a word was spoken, They went to their favorite spot and began the ritual of submission to the all Holy God. The place took on a totally spiritual atmosphere. I felt like I was in an abbey church or cathedral. The muezzin singing his ancient chant was like plainsong to my ears. Here were almost 200 men, totally focused on one thing. Their bows and prostrations were like a monastic choir. Soon the imam appeared in his long white coat/robe and distinctive head dress. He took his place in the front. Then all the men formed several long, straight rows. The muezzin was singing particular phrases over and over. The movements corresponded with the phrases. Each time the muezzin sang the syllable “Oom...” They all prostrated touching their foreheads to the carpet. This repeated over and over. I remember one of our friends saying, “When we pray it is powerful, when we pray together, the prayer becomes more powerful.” I watched this go on – feeling our prayers storming heaven’s gates. At the end each one turned to the right, then to the left and uttered prayers of blessing to all around them. One man looked me dead in the eye, and blessed me in Arabic. Here we were, all People of the Book, at Abraham’s cave giving praise to God. A communion of sorts took place. I felt the presence of God.

This is in southeastern Turkey in a fairly traditional area. Some men at prayer wore ancient clothes, baggy pants with long flaps between the legs, head scarves. Mostly the old men dressed like that. After prayer was over several prayed their beads. Some old men went and sat in the plastic chairs. One old man - could be my grandfather - looked at me with a paternal gaze of friendship as he was walking out. He came by me and patted my head and shoulder. Another communion took place. I was changed forever.

Afterward our leader spoke to the imam, a short, very friendly man. He came and greeted all of us warmly. He said he felt an extra blessing that we could all pray together. He made me feel totally at home. He continued where our guide left off, and told us the story of Abraham and this holy place with relish. He left welcoming us to return whenever we liked. I felt the spirit of Abraham who was called to bring blessings to all the nations. I felt a little sad. Bad things were going on a mere 110 miles away. I wanted this feeling to last. The prayer is even stronger when all the People of the Book, all of us, pray together for peace.

Anytime I see negative stuff about Muslims or efforts to divide Muslims and non-Muslims I will oppose it. We must dialogue. We must stop evil done in the name of religion. That is the blasphemy. I may never have an experience like that again. I must remember Abraham’s cave. Two of his children found each other that day.  >>Back<<

Xavier G. Colavechio, O.Praem.
De Pere

Two weeks is hardly enough time to begin to absorb the wide variety of experiences available that one can have in visiting the subcontinent with its rich history, immense size, almost infinite variety of languages, customs and religions, foods and peoples.

When the British Raj created the modern country of India, it was divided into a number of States, based on the local language spoken. There are 28 States and seven union territories, each with its own language, and many with dominant religions.

I visited only two States, where confreres live from the about-to-be independent Canonry of Mananthavady (Tepl-Mananthavady, to be accurate). The first was, Karnataka, where St. Augustine Study House and the St. Norbert Bhavan (House), which is the novitiate, are located - in the teeming city of Bangalore. The city is so large that it took more than one hour to go from one house to the other, and that at breakneck speeds (more about that later). The language of that State is Karnatakan. 

The second State visited was Kerala, where Norbert House, the center of the Canonry, sits half way up the side of a mountain. In Kerala, the language is Maliyalyiam.  Kerala has the largest percentage of Christians in any State in India. Slightly over 30% of the population belong to one of several Protestant churches, the rest are Catholics who belong either to the Roman or the Syro-Malabar rites.

The community of Mananthavady accepts only young men from Kerala who belong to the latter rite. I found it interesting that those in formation are required to be familiar with the Roman Rite, celebrated in English, since ordained men from the Canonry are often called on to fill in on Sundays in Roman rite parishes. In fact, the Sunday when I was staying at the novitiate, both the novice master and his associate, the only two priests assigned to the house, were both celebrating Masses in Roman rite parishes, leaving me to celebrate the Eucharist with the novices. The young men, along with those folks from around the novitiate who came to the service, sang in English everything that could possibly have been sung. I suppose the singing carries over from the celebration of Quarbana (Eucharist) in the Syro-Malabar rite, where almost everything is sung, sometimes by the main celebrant, and more often by the whole assembly, who seem to know an infinite variety of hymns and chants, since there were no books or worship aids visible anywhere. 

I shared in the Eucharist also on the few days I spent at the Study House, one of which was a Sunday. The chapel was filled to capacity with lay people from the area, and again, it was obvious they all knew the words, the tunes and the responses in their native tongue in which the liturgy was celebrated. As is the custom, all men and boys were on the left, and all women and girls were on the right. For a few parts of the liturgy, all sat on the floor, but for the most part, they stood for the hour long celebration. That was also true at Mananthavady, and I was told, in every Syro-Malabar Church.

The superior gave me an English translation of the Quarbana so I could follow along. It was most instructive to learn that the rite uses only one Eucharistic Prayer, an ancient form called the Canon of Adi and Mara, reputed to have been disciples of St. Thomas the Apostle, who brought the faith to India, and thus the name “Thomas Christians.”  The interesting thing about this Eucharistic Prayer is that it does not include the Institution Narrative from the Last Supper, and it has been specifically approved for use by the Vatican.

A few other observations about the Syro-Malabar liturgy: at one point, the main celebrant breaks the large host, and dips one half into the relatively small chalice, and then “paints” the other large hosts on the paten; these are for the other concelebrants. At Communion time, the main celebrant again dips the half host into the chalice and consumes It. Other celebrants then self-communicate in the same manner. The main celebrant then places a ciborium with consecrated hosts and the small chalice containing the Precious Blood on the “people’s side” of the altar, and the congregation comes forward one by one, bows profoundly,  picks a host from the ciborium, dips It in the Precious Blood, and self communicates. When that ritual is completed, the celebrant consumes whatever is left in the chalice.

In the Norbertine houses, the liturgy of the Hours is celebrated standing. The community gathers, and begins singing, using several melodies that I found to be hauntingly beautiful. Every now and then, the community pauses in their singing, and one who I presume is presiding, sings an oration, to which all respond AMEEN, and the community starts singing again. This is the pattern for both morning and evening prayer, which takes about 35 minutes to complete. I should also mention that everyone, young and old, male and female, remove their shoes before they enter into any Church, and since socks seem not to have been invented (at least I didn’t see any others than my own), all worship is done barefoot.

I said they removed their “shoes.” That is not quite accurate either. Though I did manage to spot several people wearing shoes, like soldiers, policeman, pilots and a few others, the preferred footwear seemed to be flip-flops or backless sandals which can be removed quite easily.

A few other general observations about India are in order.  I think the thing that lingers most in my memory is the terror I felt whenever I was in an automobile. The roads, many of them dirt, tend to be narrower that I am used to, and potholes seem to be de rigeur. I don’t believe I ever saw a STOP sign or a posted speed limit, and if I were to deduce the rules of the road, the first would be to honk your horn at every opportunity, and the second would be to do whatever it takes to pass whatever is in front of you. Outside the cities, and in many parts of the cities, there are no sidewalks, so the roadway is filled with pedestrians, dogs, cows, bicycles, motor bikes, motorcycles, three wheeled motorized rickshaws that serve as taxis, cars, SUVs, busses, most without windows,  and trucks of every size and shape. Taxis, busses and trucks all seem to have a sign of some sort painted on the back inviting others to sound the horn, please, along with some other indication that you should not try to pass on the left, only on the right (driving is done on the left side of the roads). The cacophony of blaring horns, the serpentine driving patterns of almost everyone (avoiding potholes and passing with the smallest margin of error), the death defying speeds and the scurrying walkers (both human and animal) elicited a gasp or two, to put it mildly. But, miraculously, I never did observe one accident, though near accidents were legion.

A few words now about my task with the Mananthavady community. Abbot Wolfgang Böhm, exiled abbot of Tepla, believed that there was no future for his community, so in 1978, he traveled to India at the recommendation of a German priest friend, who suggested that vocations might be found there. With the help of that friend, the abbot met the Syro-Malabar bishop of Mananthavady, who agreed that a foundation of Norbertines would be acceptable in his diocese. The abbot looked for a suitable place to establish his community, and the priest friend took him to several spots around the area. One particular spot was on a mountain side, which the abbot immediately rejected as not practical. While they were standing there, a neighbor happened by, carrying his young daughter, who handed Abbot Böhm a bunch of flowers she had in her hand. The abbot was charmed by the gesture and declared it was a sign from God, and proceeded to buy the land. The first house was built about half way up the mountain, and the following June, 1979, the first “batch” of Indian candidates was accepted and placed under the rectorship of Fr. Matthew Kattady, a  diocesan priest. The foundation stone of Norbert House was laid by Abbot Böhm a few months later, in November, and the house was dedicated on June 6, 1982. On that same day, the first “batch” of novices was received. Since there were no Norbertines available to form the novices, they were placed under a priest from another religious congregation, who was replaced a year later by another priest of yet another religious community. The first “batch” were solemnly professed in May, 1989, and ordained in 1990.  It is interesting to note that Fr. Kattady, their first rector, recently retired at age 80, now lives in Norbert House with the community he helped establish. At present, the Canonry has 55 ordained priests (the oldest being Vincent Chalupurath, 47, who spent some time in De Pere earlier this year) and almost 50 young men, ranging from aspirants through postulants, novices, simply professed and solemnly professed juniors.  As an aside, one of the concerns expressed during their Chapter was the diminishing number of vocations!  Would that we had that problem.

This short survey of the history of the Canonry might explain why the confreres sought outside help as they approach the election of their first Prior de Regimine on November 22, 2007.  Though Gottfried Menne of Hamborn, Norbert Schegel of Tepl-Villingen, and Roman Vanasse of De Pere worked with the community over the years, the confreres admit they lack a clear sense of their identity as Norbertines, have little experience of Norbertine history and spirituality, and a not yet developed understanding of the Constitutions. Beginnings have been made, and it was quite obvious that Roman and others had done much to deepen the community’s understanding. My task, as it was explained to me, was to help them prepare for their first ever election of their own prelate and to move them to a better understanding of the Constitutions in the context of their place in India.  A three day Canonry Chapter was certainly not enough time to accomplish all of that, but the current Administrator, Fr. John Nullevelil, O. Praem. and I worked out an approach that hopefully would move the community closer to the maturity it seeks.

The hospitality and the concern the confreres showed me was unimpeachable. They were super-sensitive to the fact that an American would not be used to their very spicy curried food, and set before me choices of boiled vegetables, breads, fruit that needed to be peeled, etc. Bottled and boiled water were always available, and there seemed always to be a confrere or a student near whenever I had a question or a need. I shared their prayer life, laughed with them, answered what questions I could, explained when I was able, and learned from their wisdom.

At the three-day Chapter, I served as a facilitator, and Fr. John and I worked out an acceptable approach and schedule. The first day was rather routine: reports from houses and commissions, questions and answers, suggestions and issues to be dealt with. All this was done in a mixture of their native language and English, and they took pains to make sure I was aware of what was being discussed. I did, of course, miss some jokes and smart remarks they would make toward one another, and that made me think they are farther along in Norbertine-ness than they think!  

The second day was given over to consideration of their fledgling Book of Customs. A copy of the De Pere book was available to them, and with Roman’s input, Fr. Francis Allumpuram did a masterful job putting together their own version. Debate was spirited and intense about the number of elected councilors, the use of proxy votes, the formation program, etc.

I was called on a number of times to clarify issues, to explain the meaning of some parts of the Constitutions, especially when some suggestions would have run contrary to the Constitutions.  I got the impression from the debate that some confreres were concerned that once a rule found its way into the Book of Customs, it would be there forever. I disabused them of that, and much to the relief of the men, they delighted in knowing that the Book of Customs was theirs to revise and rewrite as the Canonry Chapter saw fit. That led to a proposal that the prelate’s council be increased by electing three members instead of the then current two. That led to the issue about whether the prelate had to appoint certain office holders to his council. Again, an explanation that it seemed to be customary for the abbot to include his prior, but there was no rule saying that was required.  Financial issues played a large part in the discussion, and accountability, not only for finances, but also for participation in common exercises loomed large. Finally, the community voted unanimously to approve the amended Book of Customs, aware that the next Canonry Chapter should review how the individual sections are working, and that the three houses now have to develop their own Book. 

The third day dealt with issues concerning their first election of a Prior de Regimine. We began with a reflection on the election of Matthias from Acts 1, and brought in other elections in the Scripture. There was a good discussion about the difference between elections of politicians to give them power and choosing one who is to serve the community in the name of God.

We moved on to a process of discernment, both for individuals and for groups within the community, and did a good bit of sharing about that. The men broke up into groups of five to discuss two questions: what do you see as the most important needs and directions for the immediate future, and what qualities would you like to see in a prelate. Each group submitted a written report of their deliberations. I took them and compiled a comprehensive list of the answers to both questions, and the men studied the report and engaged in a very well done conversation about how these things could be inserted into the discernment process they had agreed to use for the next 10 weeks.

The final session dealt with the mechanics of the election. I gave an overview of the process and answered questions about various methods of preparing ballots, requirements for proxy votes, etc. The community then voted that the term of office of the prelate to be elected would be 6 years, with a retirement age of 70.

I had one more day in Manathavady after the conclusion of the Chapter, and they made it quite a memorable one. In a hired taxi (the house had no auto of its own; that day, however, the Administrator bought one), two of the confreres took me on a tour of the forests and mountains that surround the area of Manathavady. The vistas and views were breathtaking. The mountains rivaled the Alps in beauty, in my opinion, with falling cataracts, wind shaped rock formations, lush forests, and at times, views above clouds filling the valleys and covering the streams.

On the car trip from Bangalore to Manathavady (an eight-hour jaunt), we passed through a lush forest, and I saw elephants and tribes of monkeys, along with flocks of brightly colored birds. Thank God, I was in no position to see the snakes that the driver told me are legion in that area! On the mountain trip, we stopped at a tea factory, and got the grand tour, seeing how the freshly picked leaves are separated, washed, crushed, ground, and separated by degree of fineness before being bagged in large burlap sacks and carted off to an auction.

We also visited two parishes and two of the three schools in which confreres are involved. I got to talk to the children, answer their questions about the U.S., and in one instance, got to sing Old McDonald after they serenaded me with an Indian melody. It turned out that they all knew Old McDonald, and clapped and sang along with me. I discovered that even at their young age, they spend one week a semester doing some sort of social work, even if it’s only helping someone to take care of a garden. Besides their native Maliyalyiam, all the children could speak English and Hindi, the common languages of India.

My leave-taking from Mananthavady paralleled my arrival. Everyone in Norbert House, from the Administrator and Fr. Kattady to the youngest aspirant were on the front steps, singing a farewell song and assuring me of their thanks and prayers. The Administrator gave me a wooden elephant as a memento, and later, I was given a rosewood box and an elephant adorned letter bag for the abbot.  It was a foreign land with foreign customs and foreign faces, but I felt I was leaving home.  >>Back<<


Joel P. Garner, O.Praem.
Santa Maria De La Vid Priory, 5825 Coors Rd SW
Albuquerque, NM 87121-6700, U.S.A. 

By the end of September, twelve Norbertines at Santa Maria de la Vid Priory had moved into St. Norbert Cloister, the new Residence-Living Center on our property. We are very pleased with both the design and its execution. The three distinct sections of the former dormitory cloister in which we lived will be used for priest guests, formation, and an overflow of retreatants. Abbot Gary Neville blessed the new cloister during a recent visit.

Our new Norbertine Library should be finished by the beginning of the new year. In addition to housing books and periodicals it will provide several offices, a reception center, a library workroom, a seminar room, an archives, a storage room and three spiritual direction-counseling rooms.

In the middle of June, three more New Mexicans graduated from St. Norbert College’s Master of Theological Studies program here. The graduation ceremony was held in our priory church and Dr. Howard Ebert, the director of the program in Wisconsin, was present to give the commencement talk and award the diplomas. We are pleased to be able to extend a bit of our American Norbertine educational heritage from the Midwest to the Southwest. Father Xavier Colavechio has come from St. Norbert Abbey to teach the fall ethics course in the MTS program in New Mexico.

Brother Robert Campbell was ordained to the diaconate September 2nd at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Community by Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe. Bob is presently taking several courses at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago before returning to New Mexico in the second semester. We look forward with him to his ordination to the priesthood in June. Bob completed the Clinical Pastoral Education program at Presbyterian Hospital in August. 

Fr. John Nelluvelil, the administrator of Mananthavady in India, visited us in the middle of October. He came to see his two young confreres, Frs. Binu Joseph and Bijoy Francis who have been serving in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe for the past year.  

Fr. Rod “Roberto” Fenzl spent much of the summer preaching for the missions in California.  He subsequently gave a retreat to eighteen of Mother Theresa’s Sisters of Charity in Gallup, New Mexico. Fr. Fran Dorff has returned from his writing sabbatical in California and it is good to have him home again. In October Fr. Joel Garner was presented with a Turquoise Chalice Award at the New Mexico Council of Churches annual benefit dinner for his ecumenical work.  

Fr. Anthony Maes, our second year novice, who was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, has been appointed the Catholic Chaplain at St. Pius X High School, the only Catholic high school in Albuquerque. He is enjoying the transition from teaching in the public schools for the last 18 years to teaching the private sector.  >>Back<<

Santa Maria de la Vid Church (Our Lady of the Vine), 
prayer home of the Norbertines of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Norbertines in attendance at the recent blessing of the Residence-Living Center 
at Santa Maria de la Vid Priory in Albuquerque –  from the left: 
Associate Lisa Ford, Fr. Binu Joseph, Associate Louise Nielsen, Bro. Dennis Butler, 
Fr. Angelo Feldkamp, Fr. Larry Mayer, Fr. John Tourangeau, Fr. Gene Gries, 
Abbot Gary Neville, Prior Joel Garner, Fr. Anthony Maes, Fr. Rod Fenzl, 
Fr. Vincent De Leers, and Associate Tim Schumacher. 

Steven J Herro, O.Praem.
St. Norbert Abbey, 1016 N. Broadway
De Pere, WI 54115-2697 U.S.A.

St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere completed its June 2007 Chapter meeting by approving two rather unique items.

The community gave unanimous support to Fr. Ken De Groot’s resolution to oppose a City of Green Bay ordinance that would require that anyone submitting an application to the City Council to renew or start a business in Green Bay would have to prove that he or she and one’s employees are documented residents or citizens of the United States. Br. Steve Herro was asked to read the resolution at a rally and City Council meeting that same week. It was the first time that the canonry had taken a corporate stance on a social issue in over 24 years. Despite the opposition of St. Norbert Abbey and the Diocese of Green Bay, the City Council voted 9-3 to accept the immigration ordinance and the Mayor signed the ordinance into law.

In other Chapter news, the community decided to begin planning for the 2009 50th  anniversary of the dedication of the Abbey church and 875th anniversary of the death of St. Norbert. Initial suggestions include a concert and lecture series, involvement in a Habitat for Humanity construction, establishment of community gardens and or community supported agriculture on Abbey grounds, and support for a St. Norbert College social outreach ministry in Green Bay’s central city.

The community acknowledged the years of service of two local superiors. Fr. Tim Shillcox concluded his term at St. Joseph Priory and was succeeded by Fr. Al McBride. Fr. Gilbert Jacobs concluded his term at St. Norbert Abbey and was succeeded by Fr. Sal Cuccia.

The St. Norbert Ambassador of Peace Award was instituted this fall by the St. Norbert College Peace and Justice Center. The Honorable Janine Geske, Professor of Law, Marquette University was acknowledged for promoting restorative justice. Fr. Dane Radecki, Fr. Jay Fostner, Fr. James Herring, and Br. Steve Herro represented the community at the ceremony. Fr. Fostner delivered the invocation and Br. Herro nominated Geske and composed and read the citation.

Matt Hollenbeck, Chair of the Hispanic Community Council of Northeastern Wisconsin, was named the 2007 Fr. Ken De Groot Award winner for his work with the council. He has led local opposition to Green Bay and Brown County immigration ordinances and resolutions and the planning of informational and cultural events to promote an appreciation for the Latino culture in northeastern Wisconsin.

Fr. Xavier Colavechio traveled to India in the summer to assist the Community of Mananthavady and later traveled to Albuquerque to teach an ethics course in the Master of Theological Studies program. Br. Herro hosted a breakout discussion at the 2007 Social Action Summer Institute entitled, “Supporting our Troops” and “Catholic Social Teaching in Time of War.”

The community buried Fr. Bob Hyde and Fr. Ambrose Peeters in recent months. Fr. Hyde, our senior member at 90 years, died on June 25. After 70 years of Norbertine life, Fr. Hyde will be remembered as a friendly conversationalist who enjoyed gardening, bridge, and numerous sports teams. He served in a number of ministries in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Montana, and Wisconsin, including parish ministry, high school teaching and administration, hospital chaplaincy and formation service. Fr. Peeters died on Sept. 24, after 83 years of life and 59 years in the community. He will be remembered for the warmth that he extended to all that he encountered, whether in the halls of the Abbey, persons recovering from chemical addictions, or the many parishioners he met in hundreds of mission preaching assignments to benefit our missionaries in Peru. He too served the community and church in a number of ministries, with longest terms in teaching. counseling,  and administration at Premontre High School, parish ministry in various Wisconsin Norbertine parishes, and ministry as Mission Procurator. >>Back<<


Jeremy R. Tobin, O.Praem.
Priory of St. Moses the Black, 7100 Midway Rd
Raymond, MS 39154-9611, U.S.A. 

It has been half a year since the international confreres of our circary have heard of our activities – and 2007 is a significant year for the Church in Mississippi, especially our priory. This would have been Sr. Thea Bowman’s 70th Birthday. Her cause for canonization is progressing. Her mark upon the church here is huge in making our Church reflect the culture of African Americans. She died in 1990 and was buried from St. Mary Church, our first priory, when Xavier Colavechio was pastor. Since we built our own priory here in the woods, Thea Bowman Catholic School, and our Thea Bowman Spirituality Center are two Catholic entities named for Sr. Thea right around us. As I have been reporting the center’s popularity has steadily increased with retreats (group and private), workshops on various topics, parish organizations planning meetings, immigrant rights and social justice workshops, ecumenical retreats, hosting other denominations, etc, are all going on. It is scheduled for the rest of the year. Priests have also come for renewal, as well as the diocesan seminarians (all 11 of them, several second career men).

This Norbertine Priory continues to make its mark throughout the diocese.

In addition we continue outreach ministry throughout the 26 county diocese. Every weekend we are all over supplying priests to churches where the pastor is away, or there is no priest. One priest serves the only church in a county. The religious and lay pastoral ministers are the unsung heroes of our diocese, keeping thing going and thriving, until  the priest comes on the weekend, in some cases even less frequently.

We continue prison ministry at the Federal prison in Yazoo City, providing bi-lingual Masses, counseling and other services. Some years back there was talk of expanding the Kairos retreat movement (a Cursillo in a prison) to Yazoo City, hopefully progress may be made.  Most recently we are taking on a part time hospital chaplaincy at the VA Hospital in Jackson. All the confreres are quite busy.

Jeremy was part of a delegation to visit Turkey, and see firsthand the efforts at inter-religious dialogue sponsored by the Fethullah Gulen Movement. Mr. Gulen is a Muslim scholar who has spent his life promoting Muslim-Christian-Jewish, and other dialogue. He inspired several groups worldwide dedicated to promoting dialogue through education and connecting with all strata of society. His is the largest movement of its kind in Turkey. We visited several Gulen inspired schools. There are several schools in the US, as well as other groups engaged in dialogue. It is significant that this is coming from the Muslim Community, not the West. It is a real sign of hope in this polarized world.

Many guests spent time with us these last six months, among whom were Kinshasa confreres Faustin Misakabo and Leopold Kmundu. Also the Carmelite sisters whom we serve celebrated with us their two new arrivals from the Philippines, and several others.

We will continue in the next issue to update you, however space limitations have us end our report for now. >>Back<<


Ashley J. Orgill, O.Praem.
St. Norbert Priory, P.O. Box 84106
Kommetjie 7976, Cape Town, South Africa 

Since our last report, which I think was last Christmas, there have not been so many happenings in our house. The biggest and most interesting of events was the fact that for the first time, as well as for a few others, Fr. Ashley attended the General Chapter which took place in Germany last year: it was a most interesting and enlightening of experiences. The mere fact that there were so many different people and nationalities was awe-inspiring and really made a huge impact upon how one thought about the Order –  not only in Cape Town, but throughout the world.

In March of this year Fr. Claude went on holiday to his home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and he was at home for a period of four months during which he spent some time both with his family and his community.

This June, in commemoration of our Holy Father Norbert, we decided that we would have a celebration of Vespers to which we’d invite the parish. Prayer was followed by a cheese and wine social gathering. It was enjoyed by all and the response was very positive. The following day of the Solemnity of Norbert, we celebrated Holy Mass, followed by a small reception with tea and some cakes. We also invited the local clergy in the surrounding area, the deanery, to come and join us for lunch, which turned out to be a great success and a very great social time. After the joyous celebrations, in honour of the Norbertines, we then had a fund raising dinner for the students studying at the Diocesan seminary in Cape Town. This was well supported by the parish and some outsiders. All in all it was a time that will be remembered and spoken about for a long time.

After all the festivities, we took leave for three months of Fr. Jan, who left us to go on holiday to his family in Holland, and also some time with the confreres at Grimbergen Abbey in Belgium. It was a well deserved break, since he was on the path of recovering from his illness. Both he and Fr. Claude have since returned from their respective holidays – after a well-deserved break.

Our confreres in Worcester are doing well. Apart from the fact that Fr. Diepstraten is getting on in age, he is enjoying his retirement in the parish. Since his retirement Fr. Vantomme has been looking after the parish in De Dooros, spending some time there and in his own parish as well.

From the look of things, it seems as if we are spreading ourselves quite thin. After the return of Fr. Jan from his holidays, Fr. Ashley will be taking a holiday in which he will be spending some time with old friends with whom he studied – this after taking care of the parish with its three churches for the past three months.

Not so long ago, about two weeks to be exact, the Catholic Church in Cape Town made history by having its first ever Synod. Fr. Ashley took part in the proceedings both because he was Dean and a representative of the Community in Kommetjie. It was a great occasion and it was very good for the Church which needed to make a more visible stance in today’s spiritually and morally declining society here in Cape Town.

The festive season is upon us, although it officially starts only in December: the shops are advertising their wares and tares already. All this hype of the season takes away the real meaning of the celebration. But despite all of that, on behalf of all of us here in warm and sunny Cape Town, I wish all of our readers and confreres in the English-speaking Circary a Blessed, Peaceful, Cheerful and Christ-filled Christmas. If ever you’re in Cape Town, give us a call and come and spend some time with us. >>Back<<  

Benny Peekunnel, O.Praem.
Norbert House, P.B. No. 10
Mananthavady 670645, Kerala, India 

We thank God for His constant care and enriching hands that we felt in the depth of our hearts throughout the last few months.  We are really nourished with lots of activities, experiences, and events in the life of Canonry.

We, the Canonry of Mananthavady remember the departed soul of our Rev. Fr. Gottfried Menne, with great sorrowful and mourning hearts. Fr. Gottfried was Prior of this Canonry of Mananthavady for one year and the coordinator of our confreres in Germany for the last fourteen years. We acknowledge the great service he has rendered to the Canonry and we continue praying for the repose of his soul.

Norbert House: The mother house of Mananthavady Norbertines had an enriching period that witnessed a holistic growth of its members. We celebrated the feast of its founder on June 6th with great pomp and vigor. The day was coloured with the solemn profession of three of our brothers. A solemn Eucharistic procession and cultural evening made the founder’s day a memorable one.

Minor Seminary: The new academic year began with three day’s of retreat for the minor seminarians. We have 25 brothers in the minor seminary. This year we have got eight aspirants. The postulants are engaged in their pre-university programme. The entire academic curriculum places its thrust at a holistic excellence and therefore apart from the regular classes, brothers are urged to find several of their hidden potentials, to develop them to their maximum and to come out with flying colours.

Sacred Heart Higher Secondary School at Dwaraka: The school is celebrating its Silver Jubilee this year and it is in steady progress, with very good academic performance and notable achievements in extracurricular activities. The school recognizes the needs of the people and is giving excellent academic involvement in the entire district.

Parish and Social Work: Puthiyidom, the sole Norbertine Parish at Mananthavady always renders an excellent pastoral service to the people. The parish became more alive with the vibrant personality of the vicar Fr. Jose Kodakkattu. He arranged retreats, prayers, night vigils, house visiting, de-addiction camps, etc. for the purification of the faith of the believers in the parish. The social work centre at Norbert House provides helping hands to the people around. It newly started a nursery school for the children of the locality. It also gives importance for different vocational training programmes. The centre conducted a medical camp for the people who live around our house.

Bangalore- St. Norbert Bhavan: The community welcomed the new novice master Fr. Sunil Kadumbanthanam, Fr. Babu Thaiparambil, three graduates and eight first year novices. Novices are engaged in different programmes related to the spiritual, physical and academic activities. The issue related to the land of St. Norbert Bhavan is still under consideration of High court of Karnataka.

St. Augustine Study House (SASH): Academic year of 2007- 08 began with new hope and expectations. Brothers are enriched with regular monthly recollections and annual retreats. The summer meeting of the juniors took place at Mananthavady with various colourful programmes. To enhance the unity of Indian Norbertines we had an inter-canonry meeting at St. Norbert Abbey, Jamtara from 5th to 14th May, 2007. It was really a nourishing experience for the brothers of both the canonries. Visiting the Norbertine communities in Jabalpur was an occasion for the brothers of Mananthavady to know how the Norbertines worked hard to bring up the villages. Apart from this, it was an effort to enhance the unity between the canonries. SASH celebrated home day on August 26th with solemn Eucharistic celebration. Focus, the magazine of SASH community was also published on the same day.

ECHO with the dream of serving children in difficult circumstances grows by God’s grace and ecclesiastical authority, Norbertine confreres, political authorities and other public servants. ECHO was blessed with many programmes like group foster homes, traffic police assistance programme, child to child programme, Bala mela, student internship and State level conference in the last few months. The new centre inaugurated on 30th April, 2007 at Mysore is called ECHO- Spandana.

N.R. Pura Mission: The construction of Little Flower Church is going on. The community believes the consecration of the church would take place in the near future. 

SWS and ITC: Focusing on the social substantiality of rural homes, the SWS functions as a channel to the development of the people both socially and spiritually. The centre provided certain programmes for the needs of people like staff training, women empowerment programme, skill development and micro- enterprises development, leadership trainings and cluster level SHG meetings, child development, educational sponsorship for school students and help for professional studies, de-addiction programme, watershed management programme, medical help and disabled development, etc. ITC provides technical education and professional courses with the intention of upliftment of the people of the locality.

Schools at N.R. Pura: Schools function with foreseen needs of the students of the area.  English medium school at Koppa runs with a good strength of students.

USA Missions: Three of our confreres are working in USA. Frs. Binu and Bijoy completed their home holidays and returned to States in the month of August. Fr. Binu is working as a chaplain of a hospital and Fr. Bijoy as an assistant parish priest. Fr. Raju carries his hospital ministry in States.

German Mission: Frs. Justin and John newly joined the German community, and they are recently assigned to work in the parishes. Most of our confreres completed their home holidays and went back. Two more confreres, Frs. Peter and Vineeth will be joining the community of Austria.

Studies: Priests and brothers of our canonry carry on studies in Rome, Belgium, Germany and India. Frs. Joshy and Benny completed their studies of MBA and B. Ed. respectively. Fifteen of our brothers are studying in different institutes like Jeevalaya and DVK in Bangalore, Casa Pallotti in Goa and JDB in Pune.

Canonry Chapter: Canonry Chapter was held in the Benedictine Monastery, Makkiyad from 27th to 30th August, 2007. Chapter days were blessed with the presence of Rev. Fr. Xavier Colavechio of the Abbey of De Pere, who was the special invitee to this chapter. This chapter witnessed a couple of fruitful discussions and decisions regarding the life of the canonry, especially the focal point was the coming election of our Prelate. Chapter also discussed new Book of Customs prepared by Fr. Francis Allumpuram and gave approval with certain changes.

We hope and pray for fruitful days ahead by the grace of God. >>Back<<

Hugh D. Allan, O.Praem.
Corpus Christi Priory, 29 Varley St.
Manchester, M40 8EE, Great Britain 

Since our last report in the Communicator, Fr Hugh has been traveling up and down the country looking at the different places we have been offered as a new home for our community. The most romantic spot was a castle on Lake Windermere! We have been in negotiations with many dioceses and at a recent Canonry Chapter we made a decision about which option to choose as our future home. At the moment we are still working out the details with the local Bishop and another religious community about the site. Hopefully by the end of October that will all be finalised and we look forward to telling you more about our new home in the next Communicator.

During all of that, the community has merrily continued along its path of prayer and work. Fr Hugh is a governor at Xaverian College in Manchester. It is a large sixth form college with a hugely diverse number of students that well reflects the cultural mix of Manchester. Just after Easter he spent a week there interviewing candidates for the post of Principal. It was a long week and the Governors interviewed many outstanding candidates for the post. In the end the post was awarded to a lady called Mary Hunter whose family comes from Alnwick, a town with a former Norbertine abbey. Mary will no doubt lead Xaverian College to many happy years of success.

Br Ambrose and Br Bernard returned from Rome having completed their first year of studies. Shortly after his return, Br Bernard accompanied Fr Hugh and Fr Michael on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Winifred in North Wales. It has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries and there is even a "holy well" which managed to survive the destruction of the reformation. The only problem is that the church is on a hill and the well is at the bottom of the hill. The procession was easy going down but the return journey was a little more penitential!

Br John continues to do excellent work in a local Catholic High School. Both the Bishop and local clergy have said how impressed they are by his catechetical work and care for the children in the school. Fr Cadoc returned for the summer and, as ever, it was a real joy to have him home. He spent the summer furthering his academic work and saying Mass in a nearby parish where the pastor is very ill.

Fr Michael is now Cantor for the community and is working hard to improve our singing. It is an uphill struggle but he is doing great work. Fr Stephen continues to give spiritual talks to our third order group.

At the end of the summer we had our first community retreat. Fr Bede Rowe, a priest from the diocese of Clifton, gave a retreat on the seven deadly sins! It was an excellent retreat and a very happy week together. At the end of the retreat, Br Bernard and Br Ambrose were instituted as lectors. At the first vespers of St Augustine, we celebrated two clothings - one of a new novice and one of a donatus beginning his probationary year. Our new novice is Matthew Allen from Gloucestershire. He has just graduated from Oxford University with a B.A. in Theology and has made a wonderful addition to our community life. He was given the name Br Rupert after Blessed Rupert Meyer. We also clothed James Foley as a donatus to the community. James has been a great friend to the community and has now made this further step in his commitment to the community. It is a privilege to have him as part of our family. Our weekend of celebrations culminated on the solemnity of Our Holy Father Augustine when we celebrated Br John's ordination to the priesthood. This is the first priestly ordination in our Canonry. The church was packed with friends from near and far. Our choir lifted the rafters with the Mass setting of Mozart's "Waisenhausemesse" and Elgar's "Ecce Sacerdos." The sanctuary was filled with over 40 priests and the Bishop preached an excellent homily about the joys of the priesthood. It was a truly wonderful end to a long summer. >>Back<<

Jerome M. Molokie, O.Praem.
St. Michael Abbey, 19291 N. El Toro Rd
Silverado, CA 92679-9801, U.S.A. 

As I write this article for the December issue, the abbey prepares for the funeral Mass and burial of Fr. Paul Gelencser, who died peacefully on October 7, 2007, about a month short of his 91st birthday. Fr. Paul had been in very poor health for a while.  Always very devoted to recitation of the rosary, Fr. Paul died on the day of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, which fell on a Sunday this year and was therefore not commemorated.

As mentioned at the end of the last article from Orange, we had Fr. Gabriel Stack’s 25th jubilee on June 28th, which was followed by the ordination of Fr. Damian Giap to the priesthood and fr. Ambrose Criste to the diaconate at Mission San Juan Capistrano on the 29th. In a particularly touching moment of those ceremonies, fr. Ambrose’s father, who is a member of the permanent diaconate in the diocese of Denver, helped to vest his son in the dalmatic.

Lots of wonderful visits from old friends and new faces mark this period. Over the summer, we had a great visit from Frs. Antony D’Cruz and Marie Soosai Arandu, visiting the US from the abbey of Jamtara in India. Fr. Francis Micek, a priest from Strahov stayed with us for about a month during this time as well.  His visit was partly pedagogical: he wanted to improve his English skills, and this he did. Fr. Anzelm Szuromi of Csorna also stayed here for another wonderful stay.  

Fr. William Fitzgerald passed through for about a week in July during his summer holidays.  He teaches in Covington Kentucky, and is a well-loved chaplain at the school where he is stationed.  The Consul General of Hungary came to dinner with his wife. Other visitors included two professors of theology from the Angelicum University in Rome, Fr. Bruce Williams, O.P., and Fr. Paul Murray, O.P., who gave the community an excellent retreat in August. Also our dear friend Dom Daniel Augustine Oppenheimer is at the abbey with us this year as two of his clerics pursue theological studies in Rome. We also had a visit from William P. Hyland, director of the Center for Norbertine Studies at St. Norbert College in Green Bay. He gave a lecture on the Marian elements of Norbertine spirituality to the community which was a delight.

The expansion project continues to be a high priority as we move toward acquisition of the land for the new site. Frs. Hugh Barbour and Vincent Gilmore went to Spain in July to work with the architects on further precisions to the plans for the abbey and school. As we seek to get the work better known in the greater Orange County and Southern California community, it has been striking how many of the faithful are happy to know the abbey and enjoy visiting. This is an element of apostolic work that can easily be forgotten, especially when schedules are full with much to be done.  We can find it ironic that people visiting rave about “the peace” of the abbey when we are so frantic in trying to get everything done, and it is a call to attention to realize that the place we are blessed enough to inhabit truly is a place of peace.

Many of the confreres have been involved in retreat work: Abbot Eugene gave a retreat to the Knights of Malta in Menlo Park, Fr. Sebastian Walshe gave a retreat for the Kolbe Missionaries at Prince of Peace, a Benedictine abbey in Oceanside. Fr. Gregory Dick gave a diocesan retreat in Canada.

In September, our annual gala fundraiser netted $320,000 for our high school and abbey communities. Fr. Justin Ramos’ untiring efforts once again resulted in an extremely successful evening. Later on the feast of St. Michael, fraters Benedict Solomon and Claude Williams made their solemn professions, and at the beginning of October the students who would study in Rome left for another year: fraters, Benedict, Nathaniel Drogin, Maximilian Okapal and the new deacon, fr. Ambrose.

With the academic year well under way at the prep school, and our football team looking pretty lethal (4-1 so far), we look forward to a good year of learning, athletics, prayer and music here at the abbey and its school.  >>Back<<

Joseph P. McLaughlin, O.Praem.
Daylesford Abbey, 220 S. Valley Rd.
Paoli, PA 19301-1900, U.S.A. 

On June 1,2007 Richard Antonucci began his new appointment as prior, succeeding John Joseph Novielli who had served in that post since January 1, 1997. Andrew Ciferni became subprior the same day, succeeding Francis Cortese who had been subprior since 2000.

John Joseph Novielli was honored at the Missa Summa on June 3rd, and at a catered lunch that followed in the abbey refectory; the community had a private celebration for John Joseph on June 6th. John Joseph went to Strahov on August 10th, and, after visiting other Norbertine communities in Austria and Hungary, arrived in Rome September 3rd for the sabbatical program at the North American College. Travelling with John Joseph was Robert McDonald, a former Daylesford seminarian who retired in June from Archmere after 24 years as a guidance counselor. John Joseph returns to Daylesford on November 17th.

On May 20th Richard Antonucci marked the 35th anniversary of his ordination, at the Sunday community mass; John Zagarella was the homilist and John Joseph Novielli was the assistant celebrant. Richard was ordained on May 20, 1972, along with James Rodia, associate pastor of Saint Gabriel Church in Philadelphia, on leave since July 7th for health reasons.

The annual canonry chapter took place on June 5-7-8. Richard Antonucci and William Kelly, co-chairs of the 9-member central committee of the Futures Task Force, made a presentation of the overall work of the six standing committees. Theodore Antry was elected to the Government and Process Committee and Steven Albero was elected to the Personnel Committee, both for three years.

Daniel Kent, a former member of Daylesford, a Spanish teacher at Archmere from 1964 to 1978, and now a priest of the Archdiocese of Miami, visited Wilmington in June. Richard Antonucci, John Zagarella, and Joe McLaughlin attended a dinner in Dan’s honor on June 16th.

William Craig was in a car accident on June 20th on his way to offer  mass at Saint Monica Parish in Berwyn. Bill was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania for a week; he has recovered nicely from the accident.

Domenic Rossi and Carl Braschoss went to Rome for a week in June, staying at the Generalate. Domenic is in his 11th year as pastor of Saint Norbert Parish in Paoli. Carl is in 2nd theology at the Chicago Theological Union, and lives at Holy Spirit Priory. Carl spent the summer at Daylesford, taking courses and working with the homeless at Bethesda in Philadelphia.

Robert Hyde (De Pere), the founding pastor of Saint Norbert Parish in Paoli in 1956, died on June 25th at age 90. Bob taught at Southeast Catholic-Bishop Neumann High School in Philadelphia three different times: 1940-1948, 1952-1956, 1957-1963; he was vice principal from 1953 to 1955. Francis Cortese represented Daylesford at Bob’s funeral in De Pere.

Joseph McLaughlin went to Strahov on June 27th for the priestly ordination of Josef Kucera on June 29th and his first mass on July 3rd. While in Prague Joe attended a concert of the Philadelphia Youth Symphony which featured Archmere senior Joe Duffy on trombone.

Antony D’Cruz and Maria Sooasi Arulandu (both of Jamtara) arrived at Daylesford on June 28th for a month-long stay in the USA. They spent two weeks at Daylesford, while also visiting New York, Washington, and the New Jersey shore. They returned to Rome via Frankfurt on July 28th.

Twenty-three Daylesford Associates made “A Journey to Our Roots” from July 19th to 23rd, hosted by Saint Norbert Abbey. Accompanying the Associates to Wisconsin were Richard Antonucci, Andrew Ciferni, and Abbot John Neitzel.

On August 16th Abbot Neitzel was the main celebrant at the 40th anniversary mass marking the dedication of the abbey church by Archbishop John Krol on August 15, 1967. In his homily Andrew Ciferni said of the Prayer for the Dedication of a Church, “It both praises God for what God has initiated and petitions God that we might rightfully respond to these gifts.”

The community retreat was held at the Spirituality Center of the Glen Riddle Franciscans in Aston, PA August 20th-24th. Father Michael Murray, OSFS spoke on the Beatitudes.

Joseph Laenen went to his native Belgium on August 27th, staying until September 24th. In addition to his annual visit to Tongerlo, Joe also went to Averbode, Berne, Tilburg, and Conques (Mondaye) where Joe stayed for a week with Ignace de Ruijter (Tongerlo).

On August 28th several confreres marked significant anniversaries: Vestition - Edward Kimpel, 65, Charles Urban, 60, Thomas Meulemans, 55, Theodore Antry, 50, Joseph McLaughlin and David Lawlor, 45, Nicholas Terico, 25; Profession - Paul DeAntoniis, 50, Joseph Serano, 45,  John Zagarella , 25, William Kelly, 10. Abbot Rossi was celebrant and homilist of the community mass. Before Vespers he addressed the community on the need to do something “for the sake of God’s children;” since August 30th some confreres have been meeting weekly to pray the rosary for victims of abuse.

Dr. Robert R. Schwartz, MD, long-time physician for the community, died at home on August 30th at age 77. Abbot Neitzel was the celebrant and homilist of his funeral mass in the abbey church on September 5th. Bob’s wife, Kathy, is as Associate.

Gabriel Wolf (Windberg), Postulator General of the Order, made a presentation on Order causes for Beatification and Canonization, to Daylesford Associates on September 17th. He gave a similar presentation to the professed community at the monthly chapter on September 19th. During the chapter Nicholas Terico was elected to the House Council, succeeding Blase Corso. On that same day Gerard Jordan was formally received into the Affiliate Program, during Vespers.

Abbot Rossi and Andrew Ciferni went to Tongerlo on September 22nd for a meeting of the Norbertine Associates Commission; Abbot Rossi is the preses and Andrew is the secretary. Andrew then went to Rome to visit John Joseph Novielli, before returning to Daylesford on October 6th. Andrew then went to Saint Norbert College on October 9th for Trustee meetings.

Abbot Neitzel was in Paoli Hospital September 27th - 30th after having a weak spell during mass at Saint Monica’s Church in Berwyn. Tests revealed a malignant tumor on Abbot Neitzel’s lung. Abbot Rossi anointed him during Vespers on October 17th. Abbot Neitzel continues to be fully involved in the life and ministry of the abbey. Francis Cortese was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, on October 5th, after he fainted in the abbey refectory; he is back at the abbey.

In July of 1982 Cardinal Krol assigned the administration of Saint Gabriel Parish in South Philadelphia to the Norbertines of Daylesford. On September 28th Michael Lee, pastor, hosted  a silver anniversary celebration of Norbertine presence in the parish with Vespers and dinner. Joining the community were the IHM sisters, whose community has staffed Saint Gabriel School since 1908. Michael Lee, David Lawlor and John Ginder all attended Saint Gabriel School.

On October 12th, the 75th anniversary of the dedication of Archmere, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington dedicated the new McLaughlin-Mullen Student Life Center. Major concelebrants included Abbot Rossi, Abbot Neitzel, Francis Cortese (trustee), Andrew Ciferni (trustee), Michael Collins (faculty/ 7th headmaster), and Blaise Krautsack (faculty). John Zagarella (8th headmaster) was the homilist. The mother and sister of the late Timothy Mullen (De Pere), headmaster from 1997 to 2004, were also present. On October 13th, the anniversary of the death of Roger Paider (Daylesford),  Archmere’s 3rd headmaster, Joseph McLaughlin celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in the new Student Life Center, for Archmere parents and their families. The new building houses the worship space/dining facility, counselling offices, nurse’s office, and the main office.


October 12, 1932 the local Bishop dedicated the new Archmere Academy in Delaware. 
The 75th anniversary this year was commemorated with a Mass and dedication 
of a new Student Life Center (above, top left).


Visitors to Daylesford during the last six months include Jacob Seitz (Windberg), Gabriel Wolf (Windberg), Salvatore Cuccia (De Pere), and Tim Johnston (former novice of De Pere). In May Abbot Rossi went to Jackson; William Craig and Francis Cortese went to De Pere, also in May. >>Back<<

Ambrose Criste, O.Praem.
Collegio San Norberto, 27 Viale Giotto
1-00153 Roma, Italia

The academic year in Rome begins rather late compared to the rest of the English-speaking world, traditionally the second week in October. As of this writing, therefore, the student residents of the Roman house are only now returning from their various summer residences and occupations.  While the curial members of the house remain constant from year to year, there is a continual coming and going of students, and this year is no exception. In fact, Father Rector (Stephen Boyle of Orange) says that this year brings the greatest number of new students in the house since he began his tenure as Rector (2000). As far as the Norbertine students are concerned, however, all of those studying here this year have lived here before; and all of these veteran Premonstratensian Roman scholars are from canonries of the English-speaking Circary (Jamtara, Mananthavady, Manchester, and Orange). We Norbertine students are delighted to welcome so many new men — priests and seminarians, religious and diocesan, from all over the world — to live, work, and pray with us here in the Generalate House. 

The house itself has been the subject of no small amount of renovation and repair in the last year or so. Its fifty-seven year old pipes are beginning to act their age, and so several of the bathrooms, the hot water and heating systems, and other such necessary features, have needed to be replaced and modernized. Much to the dismay of Father Economo (Edward Van Gysel of Averbode), no sooner does one repair job end, and another one literally “springs up.” Fortunately, there is an outstanding band of handymen and workers, led by a man known affectionately as Il Mago (the Magician), to help out with all of these practical needs when they arise.

The magic that the handymen worked over summer months has been noticed and appreciated by the students returning in recent weeks. Along with these more practical novelties, we Norbertine students have many new spiritual and intellectual discoveries to look forward to as we settle into the academic year. With great hope and anticipation, therefore, we embark on another year here in the Roman house, seeking in our priestly, religious, and scholastic life, with the help of your good prayers, to follow Our Lord Jesus ever more closely, Who came to make all things new. >>Back<<

Andrew H. Smith, O.Praem.
Our Lady of England Priory, School Lane, Storrington
West Sussex, RH20 4LN, United Kingdom  

We regret that the last Communicator had no report from Storrington. It got lost in cyberspace!

The most important event of the past year was on 14th December '06 which saw the election of our Administrator, Fr. Paul MacMahon, to be our new Prelate. The Election Chapter was presided over by our Abbot General, assisted by Fr. Cyril Caals. Earlier the Canonry Chapter has decided that the new Prelate would have a life term with resignation at the age of 75 years. Our next election will be 2030!

Our Canonry Retreat, during the week of Ash Wednesday in February, was led by Bob Campbell, O.Praem., of Albuquerque. Bob helped us reflect upon the creation of a new Mission statement for the Canonry. We are currently using it each day until we are totally familiar with the wording. 

It reads: 

Called by the Spirit,
united in Christ,
and guided by Augustine and Norbert,
we delight in God’s dream for us
by praying and living together.
 As seekers
we aspire to be of one mind and one heart
on our way to God.
As witnesses
we respond to the Gospel challenge.
As servants of the Church
we minister to ourselves and others,
creating a place of welcome, prayer, and peace.
As prophets
we proclaim the power of living simply in community.

On St. Norbert's Day we had the joy of 24 men and women becoming Associates of the Priory. We have used the term "Norbertine Associates" rather than "Third Order." They began their discernment in April the previous year and after monthly meetings they have now committed themselves to be Associates for one year. By sharing our Order's spirituality and their sharing in our work both they and we have become strengthened in vocation.

We held a great celebration of September 24th, the Solemnity of Our Lady of England to mark the presence of a Norbertine Community in Storrington for 125 years. The principal celebrant was The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, His Eminence Cormac Murphy-O'Connor who before his translation to Westminster was Bishop of Arundel and Brighton for 23 years and lived in Storrington. It was a true homecoming for him and he also visited his former home (sold by the Priory to the new Diocese in 1965) which is now in private hands and has been beautifully restored. During the Mass we sang parts of a new Mass commissioned from Marty Haugen using the new translations. Our Bishop also attended along with priests and deacons from our Diocese. The Church was packed - it being a ticket admission. Afterwards a lovely Reception was held in the Priory Refectory and newly decorated Cloisters.

The first Norbertine Community in Storrington arrived in 1882 and were part of the dispersed Frigolet Abbey Community, expelled by the militia in 1880, which in those days, was its own "Primitive Observance of the Congregation of France" and who were not aggregated to the order until 1898. They recruited in England and the members of the community served in a good number of places including Farnborough where the (ex) Empress Eugenie of France had built a Church/Mausoleum for her husband Napoleon III and her son the Prince Imperial. Abbot Boniface Paulin sent four religious with their newly appointed Prior, Fr. Gonzaga Darras and they lived in a rented house until a Priory and later a Church could be built on land given by the Duke of Norfolk, who lived in nearby Arundel Castle, at the behest of Cardinal Howard, a cousin of the Duke and a Cardinal in Curia who was a friend of Frigolet. The new Priory was dedicated to "Our Lady of England." First of all a school was built and then in 1885 a wooden chapel, the community being fourteen in number. Over the years members of the community either returned to their abbey or were buried in Storrington cemetery and in 1940 Fr. Philip BeasleySuffolk, the last of the Frigoletenses, died. Care for the Priory and Parish was taken over by the Norbertines of Tongerlo Abbey centred at Corpus Christi Priory in Manchester. Tongerlo had established its first Mission in Crowle, Lincs in 1872. In 1952 Storrington Priory was reestablished, by Abbot Emilius Stalmans as a Domus Formata and in 1962 was granted Independence as a Priory Sui Iuris by the Holy See and the first prelate was appointed by Abbot J. Boel.

We are also planning a second celebration on December 18th for representatives of our Order and the religious of our Diocese together with our Abbot General, the Apostolic Nuncio and the Duke of Norfolk. We hope to report on this in our next.  >>Back<<

Mathew Thankchen, O.Praem.
The Making of Man
(Cho & Choice)[1]
In a world unloved, culture estranged
Strangling the Image within
That palpitates every moment
To love and to be loved
The Lord’s command
Blown into the air
Not being fair with one another,
Forgetting that he is a human
Having flesh and blood
Sitting next to you and me
Intoxicated with puff (pub) and puppies
Exists he for you no more
The man in silence
Recoils himself within
Blocking every ray of hope
Clouded, crumbled, crushed
Finds archetypal Christ Crucified
In him and himself alone
Never He to rise again
The Hitler is born to kill the nasty
With a thousand gun shot, if ever
His bullets last
Killing himself, the last ripples
Half-baked, God made man
Only we to make him full.


1.  Mathew says "This poem reflects the need to view Incarnation with a pragmatic approach - that each is responsible to infuse Love unto his neighbor."  

Excerpts from the Protocol of the
Norbertine Order’s Definitory Meeting
Held at Rome
April 16-18, 2007



Ampl. D.nus Thomas Handgrätinger, Abbot General;

Rev.mi, Gary Neville, Jos Wouters, Rocky D’souza (From April 17-18), Martin Felhofer, Definitors, and Cyril Caals, Secretary.


1. Prayer and opening of session

On Monday, April 16, 2007, at 9:00 AM, the abbot general read from Eph. 3:14-21, invoked the help of the Holy Spirit, and then recited a fitting prayer.  He warmly greeted all those present. Then, the order agenda of this meeting, and the sessions in which Robert Finnegan, provisor of the Order, Edward Van Gysel, economo of the generalate house, and Peter-Joseph Stiglich, administrator of Queens Park (W. Australia) were to be involved, was put forward by the abbot general to those present.

2. The approval of the preceding session’s protocol (Rome, Nov. 6-8, 2006) and also the evaluation of the last session’s decisions

The protocol was read by those present and, if it was necessary, it was corrected. Then it was approved and signed by those present. All the decisions of the preceding session were ordered to be carried out.

3. Itinerary and activities of the Abbot General

Then the abbot general enumerated and commented on the fruit of his activities from November, 2006, until April, 2007.

4. Elections/ nominations/ extensions to terms of office

4.1 The Canonry of Storrington (UK): On December 14, 2006, with the abbot general present, the confreres of the canonry elected Paul M. McMahon (b. May 21, 1955) as Prior de Regimine until the age of 75.

4.2 The Canonry of Berne Heeswijk (NL): On Wednesday, March 1, 2007, with the abbot general present, the confreres elected Edward Cortvriendt as the prelate of the canonry for six years. On Sunday, April 22, 2007, in the recently renovated abbatial church, in the presence of many confreres, associates, family of the canonry, superiors and members of other communities of the Order, the new prelate of Berne received the abbatial blessing.

4.3 The Canonry of Queens Park (W. Australia): On the occasion of the definitory meeting, the abbot general, with the agreement of the definitors, nominated Peter-Joseph Stiglich administrator again, “ad nutum abbatis generalis.”

4.4 The Canonry of Montes Claros (BRA): The abbot general, with the consent of the definitors, extended  the administration of Paul Meyfroot until the end of this year, so that by January, 2008, he will be able to be elected Prior de Regimine.

4.5 The Canonry of Saint-Constant (Canada): The definitors approved the proposition of the abbot general concerning the election of a Prior de Regimine there between June 22 and 30, 2008.

4.6 The Canonry of Teplá (CZ): The abbot general, with the consent of the definitors, decided that an election may be held in this canonry after a solution is found to its economic difficulties.

4.7 The Canonry of Oosterhout (NL): The abbot general, with the consent of the definitors, the mind of the canonry chapter having been heard, nominated the new abbot of Berne, Edward Cortvriend­t, “Abbas-Pater” or external superior according to norm n.125 of the Constitution of Præmonstratensian Canonesses.

4.8 The Canonry of S. Sofia, Toro (E): On May 17, 2007, Mother Paz Martìnez Martìnez was elected prioress for six years.

4.9 Doksaný (CZ): The community of sisters in Doksaný, a dependent house of the Canonry in Kraków (PL), from March 9, 2007, is thenceforth recognized as a Canonry “sui iuris” (i.e. independent) of the Praemonstratensian Canonesses by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The abbot general, with the consent of the definitors, the mind of the canonry chapter in Doksaný having been heard, nominated the abbot of Strahov, Michael Pojezdný, “Abbas-Pater” or external superior according to norm n.125 of the Constitution of Præmonstratensian Canonesses. On June 14, 2007, the election of the prioress will be held there, with the abbot general present.

4.10 The Delegate of the abbot general on behalf of the confreres in India. Through a letter of the abbot general on November 11, 2006, the Most Reverend Theophane Thannickunnel, of Jamtara and bishop emeritus of Jabalpur, was nominated by the abbot general.

4.11 The Canonry of Speinshart (D): Thenceforth, from December 1, 2006, until 2012, Hermann-Joseph Kugler, abbot of Windberg, was nominated administrator of this canonry by the abbot general, with the agreement of the definitors.

5. Statistics

5.1 The annual census (sent to the Holy See) of December 31, 2006 is compared to the data of 2005 (which is indicated in italics):

Bishops and priests: 950 (944)
Permanent Deacons: 9 (10)
Seminarians with temporary vows: 138 (115)
Seminarians with Perpetual vows: 24 (26)
Lay brothers with temporary vows: 9 (5)
Lay brothers with perpetual vows: 76 (83)
Novices destined for the priesthood: 76 (93)
Novices not destined for the priesthood: 8 (9)
Aspirants: 65 (71)
Total: 1355 (1356)
Not including aspirants: Total = 1290 (1285)
The Order also has 2 oblates.

5.2 Students at the Collegio San Norberto in Rome for the academic year 2006-2007: 36 Students.

- 14 Præmonstratensians (2 Jamtara; 1 Mananthavady; 2 Magnovarad; 2 Manchester; 7 Orange).

- 3 other religious (1 Missionary of the Holy Family (PL),1 Missionary of the Congregation of the Bl. Sacrament (IND), and 1 Apostle of Jesus (Kenya).

- 19 diocesan: 11 India (2 Changanacherry, 2 Jullundur, 1 Marthandam, 1 Punalur, 1 Nalgonda, 1 Quilon, 1 Tiruvalla, 1 Trivandrum, 1 Vijayapuram); 4 Nigeria (3 Onitsha, 1 Osogbo); 1 Italy (1 Catania); 1 Rwanda (Kibungo); 1 Sudan (Khartoum); 1 Uganda (Lira).

Nations: 15 India; 7 U.S.A.; 4 Nigeria; 2 England; 1 Italy; 2 Romania; 1 Poland; 1 Rwanda; 2 Sudan; 1 Uganda.

6. The Financial Administration of the Order and of the Funds

Robert Finnegan, provisor of the Order, and Edward Van Gysel, economo of the generalate house, were among those present in this session.

The abbot general and the definitors approved the annual accounting of the Postulator General, Gabriel Wolf, and the final accounting of receipts and expenses of the 2006 General Chapter from Gilbert Kraus, the provisor of that chapter.

6.1 In a few words, R. Finnegan indicated to those present the value to date of account N.

6.2 The ordinary budget:

An annual gift of 3,500 Euro was given to the Holy Father.
The annual contribution to the Order still remains:
-  114 Euro or 148 USD for each of the members of the canonries

6.3 From the Caritas fund, the following gifts were approved by the definitory:

-  To the canonry of Jamtara (IND):  15.000,00
-  To the canonry of Kinshasa (RDC):  €10.000,00
-  To the sisters in Zsambek (H):  €5.000,00

6.4 From the fund Investigatio Scientifica, 2,500 Euro was approved by the definitory for Analecta Praemonstratensia.

The abbot general, on behalf of the definitors, thanked R. Finnegan. On this occasion, on behalf of the definitors, he also thanked Gilbert Kraus, the provisor of the priory of Roggenburg (D), for a job well done with the 2006 General Chapter.

7. The Financial Administration of the Generalate House in Rome

The economo of the generate house, Edward Van Gysel, and the provisor of the Order, Robert Finnegan, were present for this session.

7.1 Edward Van Gysel distributed documents of the house’s income and expenses to those present and explained them with a brief commentary.

7.2 At the end of 2006, it appeared that an urgent renovation was necessary of the 9 bedrooms in the Sisters’ section with their conjoined sanitary facilities. The estimated price is: 317,240 Euro. The abbot general and the definitors approved this renovation.

The abbot general, in the name of the definitors, thanked Edward Van Gysel, the economo of the Roman house.

8. The Commissions of the Order

8.1 Historical Commission of the Order

The Historical Commission of the Order held its semester meeting on March 3, 2007, in the abbey of  Averbode (B), and sent the official report to the abbot general.

The same president, secretary, members, and associates were renominated on the occasion of the previous definitory session. The board of directors of “Præmonstratensia vzw” approved the account of income and expenses. The commission thanked the Order for the annual assistance, and the administrators of Averbode (B) for the logistical help.

Analecta Præmonstratensia, LXXXII 2006, issues 1-4 will be printed.  The editions of Analecta Præmonstratensia, LXXXIII 2007, issues 1-4 are being prepared.

The future edition in the series Bibliotheca Analectorum Praemonstratensium [M. Vaillant, Épiphane Louis (1614-1682)] is being prepared.

The next ordinary semi-annual session of the Historical Commission will be held in the abbey of Averbode (B) on August 4, 2007, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

8.2 The commission of associates of the Order (NAC = Norbertine Lay Associates)

The commission held the first meeting on February 3-4, 2007, at the abbey of Postel (B), and they sent the report to the abbot general.

During this meeting they discussed the mandate entrusted to them by the definitory.

8.2.1 Responsibles from other countries are needed for the national meetings.

8.2.2 In the month of June 2009, before the meeting of prelates in that same year, the second session of this commission is planned. The practical logistics concerning the place and participants has, in part, already been decided.

8.2.3 Thomas Richard of Saumer (F) and Raphael Beutner of Hamborn (D) are among those co-opted members.

8.3 The internet commission

Mr. Ed Weeden of the U.S.A. has been co-opted as a member.

8.4 The liturgical subcommission of the German-language Circary held a meeting on February 25-26, 2007, in Roggenburg (D) and sent a report of it to the abbot general.

9. Dispensations  – Transitus - Dismissal – Various Juridical Matters

10. On Certain Canonries and Communities of the Order

11. Meetings of the Order

11.1 General Chapter: 2012.

11.2 The meeting of the prelates: Rome, 2009.

11.3 The youth meeting: 2010.

11.4 The meeting of formation directors: 2011.

11.5 The meeting of sisters: Mariëngaard (NL), August 2-9, 2009.

11.6 The meeting of the associates of the Order (NAC): June 23-25, 2009.

12. Various News

12.1 The Priory of Saint-Pierre in Caen (F): On May 16, 2007, the abbot general consented to the proposition of the abbot of Saint-Martin in Mondaye and his council that the priory in Caen be suppressed, in accord with #118 of the Constitutions.

12.2 The Sisters in Rot (D): The elderly sisters relocated to a house for the elderly in Reute (D).

12.3 Kilnacrott (IRL): On January 5, 2007, in a decree of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (IVC-SVA), the sale of the abbey was approved for the payment of financial losses incurred by sexual abuse.

12.4 Manchester (UK): Since the material condition of the Basilica of Corpus Christi in Miles Platting (Manchester) is suffering greatly, on April 27, 2007, the last Mass was celebrated in that church by the bishop of Salford.

12.5 Mananthavady (IND): After the future election of the Prior de Regimine, this canonry is to be included among the English-speaking canonries.

12.6 A minor part of protocol of the General Chapter of 2006 is approved by the abbot general and the definitors.

13. The next meetings of the Definitory of the Order

-  2007/2: November 12-15, 2007, in Schlägl (A).
-  2008/1: March 31 – April 2, 2008, in Rome.
-  2008/2: November 3-6, 2008, in Averbode (B).

14. End and Thanksgiving

On Wednesday, April 18, 2007, at 10:00am, when the Definitory Meeting had been happily concluded, the abbot general heartily thanked all those present for their collaboration. Then they celebrated a festive meal, with the confreres of the generalate house, happily ending the session. >>Back<<