By Michael Hermans, Norbertine Associate, St. Norbert Abbey | During the weekend of July 13-17, 2017, Norbertine Associates (lay people who espouse Norbertine values and charisms) gathered together ...
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By Michael Hermans

Norbertine Associate, St. Norbert Abbey

Norbertine AssociatesDuring the weekend of July 13-17, 2017, Norbertine Associates (lay people who espouse Norbertine values and charisms) gathered together at St. Norbert College and St. Norbert Abbey for their fourth national conference. They represented Norbertine abbeys from:

Many of these associates have been together in the past, so it was like picking up exactly where we left off! We shared abbey and personal events that have taken place since our last coming-together. The “new” attendees very quickly joined in! What a great group of people who have very similar visions about our journeys—to become the best Christ-focused people we can be! St. Norbert, himself, is an excellent example for us.

The majority of us lived in one of the St. Norbert College dorms (Michels Hall). That gave us many opportunities to visit, share ideas, and continue to build friendships that will last long beyond the event. Isn’t that the same reason why the Green Bay Packers use the dorms at the college for their training camp?

Early in our planning we discussed with Abbot Gary Neville, O. Praem., some possible themes for the gathering. One of his suggestions was to focus on Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ recent letter to all the people of the world. As it turned out, that was an excellent starting point. What a beautiful document that goes well beyond just “another environmental paper.”  Pope Francis tells us clearly and beautifully how to care for the world and its entire people!

We had three major presentations regarding Laudato Si. Our presenters included:

  • Dr. David Poister: “God, Love, and Evolution Moving Forward”
  • Fr. Andrew Ciferni, O. Praem.: “Laudato Si – Sacramental Aspects”
  • Fr. Stephen Gaertner, O. Praem., Ph.D.: “Living As If …: Engaging the Ethics and Spirituality of Climate Change Past the Tipping Point”

They each gave us powerful messages that we can use to help us understand and gain new meaning from Laudato Si.

Our time was also spent in liturgies (Mass, common prayer, etc.) at Old St. Joseph Church on the St. Norbert College campus, where we were inundated with the spirit of the Norbertine fathers and Abbot Bernard Pennings, O. Praem., the first abbot of St. Norbert Abbey. We held our sessions in one of the newest buildings, the Gehl-Mulva Science Center. There we sensed the dynamic growth of this Norbertine college! We also gathered at St. Norbert Abbey for more discussions and liturgies. We truly lived in awe of St. Norbert himself and the principles he shared with his “followers.”

Each of our associate groups comes from a different part of our country. Therefore each abbey and region has unique needs and ways to address the principles of Laudato Si.

Those unique needs will be our tasks to address as we return home.

We—individually and as abbey groups—left the gathering with renewed energy and a willingness to address our commitments in forwarding Pope Francis’ dream for a better and more sustainable world … both now and into the future.

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    Gratitude to the Norbertine Community of St. Norbert Abbey
    By Nancy Santamaria
    Formation Director, Norbetine Associates, Daylesford Abbey