Abbot Pennings and the Founding of St. Norbert Abbey in De Pere
In 1893, two Norbertine priests and one brother left Berne Abbey in Holland for a journey to northeastern Wisconsin. The Rev. Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., led the group to take up pastoral work to the immigrants from Belgium, Holland and France who had settled in Wisconsin’s peninsula. In 1894, the little group was augmented by two additional Dutch Norbertines, allowing Pennings to accept a parish in De Pere, where St. Norbert College would be developed, and founding what would become St. Norbert Abbey.
The De Pere Norbertines continued to serve the church in northeastern Wisconsin in education, parishes, broadcasting (WBAY-TV) and its Center for Norbertine Spirituality. In the mid-1960s, a group of De Pere Norbertines also began to serve the poor in Lima, Peru.
Now, 900 years later, the vision of St. Norbert continues through Norbertine communities across the world. The Norbertines dedicate themselves to prayer, sharing a common life and serving local needs.