For Christmas 2016, in a touching tribute to their confreres who have passed into God’s Eternal Kingdom, members of the Norbertine community placed a Christmas wreath on each headstone in the St. Norbert Abbey cemetery. Below, several Norbertines share their thoughts about the headstones they selected and the impact that these respective Norbertines had on their lives.
By Br. Steve Herro, O. Praem.
Five days before Christmas, I joined several dozen Norbertine priests, brothers, and fraters in adorning the gravestones of our deceased Norbertine confreres. What drew me to help memorialize Fr. Aaron Walschinski, O. Praem. (“Fr. Wally,” † December 7, 1989), and Fr. Alan Scheible, O. Praem. († January 30, 2000)?
Fr. Wally and I were 26 years apart and Fr. Alan and I were 19 years apart—minor age differences in a community in which the pre-baby boom generation dominated. Age differences have never prevented me from becoming a close friend to another Norbertine. Though I was a dear friend to each man, the two were very different people.
Fr. Wally made me laugh. And, as a very serious person, I needed all of the amusement that I could get! We shared interests in library and archival work, and Dairy Queen Blizzard® Treats. Fr. Wally and I worked in the abbey library and archives together in 1988 and 1989. Abbot Benjamin Mackin, O. Praem., knowing my of interest in libraries and archives AND knowing of Fr. Wally’s declining health, asked me to assist Fr. Wally. Fr. Wally and I also spent time together with other Norbertines on our community property in Northern Wisconsin.
I enjoyed his memories of life in Philadelphia and as a St. Norbert College photographer. One of my fondest memories of this amiable Norbertine was at an annual “Steve Herro-Sponsored Brewers Outing.” About 20 Norbertines and Herros celebrated together. The tailgate party ended and we began to walk to our seats. My brother-in-law Andy, who is as sociable as Fr. Wally was, struck up a conversation with him, asking him his name, where he was from, etc. The two quickly realized that they shared a lot in common—including me! The party was more than 90 minutes long before the two realized that they were invited by the same person.
Fr. Alan and I had very similar personalities: serious, learned, introverted, and perfectionistic. We were both very disciplined in what we ate and how we exercised. Perhaps I shared my feelings with him more intimately than I did with any other Norbertine. He was a very provocative man, and he seemed to especially love to challenge the younger Norbertines to live our vows more authentically.
His years serving in low-income communities in Chicago (when he met a South Side community organizer named Barack Obama) have been a constant inspiration to me in my own ministry and discernment. He became seriously ill in 1998. I was seeking a new ministry in 1999 when I returned to De Pere to live and serve among my confreres. As my mother said when I shared Fr. Alan’s condition with her, “Maybe that is why God is calling you back to De Pere.”
- Fr. Guy Guyon, O. Praem.
By Fr. Stephen Rossey, O. Praem.
- Fr. Basil Reuss, O. Praem.
By Fr. Sebastian Schalk, O. Praem.